Tuscarora had led Heritage by 15 points in the second half, but in the final 18 seconds of the game the score was tied at 68. Tuscarora boys basketball head coach Michael Newkirk called a timeout as his team had a chance to win the game on its final possession. The Huskies inbounded the ball to senior guard Jack Clark and they set a screen at the top of the three-point line.
Heritage’s senior guard Max Jannes fought through the screen and got help from sophomore guard Tyler Smith as they doubled Clark. The double-team forced a pass that was stolen by sophomore guard Blake Rorrer, who then sent a pass ahead to Jannes, in full stride at half court.
Jannes received the pass with six seconds left on the clock and the game on the line. He confidently drove to the basket and converted a game-winning lay-up, despite a hand in his face. The go-ahead basket was the Pride’s first lead since the first-quarter.
“Our team didn’t stop fighting,” Jannes said. “We played together, like our coaches have been saying since the season began. Everyone did their job, and I happened to score the last basket.”
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Jannes and Tyler Smith led the Pride with 20 points each. Junior guard Richard Rogers paced the Huskies with 25 points, while Clark tallied 20 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
Heritage boys basketball head coach William Hatchett was proud of his team for rallying back late in the game.
“In the second half we turned up the intensity and we played,” Coach Hatchett said. “We started getting our legs – we’ve been out, our last practice was the 26th. Before that, it was December 9th. It’s been hard.”
Clark opened the game with a three-pointer, which would set the tone as the Huskies converted 10 treys in the first half. Heritage trailed 5-2 a few minutes into the first quarter, but they quickly changed the momentum by sinking three consecutive 3-point shots courtesy of junior guard Braden Smith, Tyler Smith, and Rorrer.
Heritage’s trio of shots gave them an 11-7 lead, but the Huskies responded with a 12-0 run to close the first quarter. Tuscarora carried their hot streak into the second quarter as they hit two consecutive 3-point shots, increasing their lead to 25-14.
The Pride cut the lead down to seven at 21-28, but Tuscarora responded with a 10-0 run late in the second quarter. The Huskies would enter halftime with a 37-25 lead over the Pride.
“In the first half, we didn’t track the guys that could shoot threes,” Coach Hatchett said. “They shot ten threes in the first half – that was the difference in the game.”
Four minutes into the third quarter, Tuscarora had increased its lead to 47-35 after Rogers drained a three-pointer. Rogers finished the game tying a school record of eight three-pointers made. The Huskies would retain a 52-45 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Rorrer converted a three to open the quarter that would cut the Huskies lead to four. But Tuscarora would go on a 9-0 run to strengthen its lead with four minutes left in the game. Tyler Smith would convert two three-point shots on Heritage’s next two possessions. Rorrer would also make his way to the foul line and sink one-of-two shots, which shortened Tuscarora’s lead to just 61-56 with 3:47 remaining.
Jannes then scored seven consecutive points for the Pride, to bring the game within reach at 64-63 with 1:40 left to play. But Clark would drain a pull-up jumper for the Huskies to put the pressure back on Heritage. Coach Hatchett called a timeout to gather his team and prepare them for the final minute of the game, he told his players: “play hard, and keep 13 [Clark] from shooting.”
After the timeout, Tyler Smith rose to moment and drained a three-point shot – the Heritage bench yelled with excitement as their team had tied the game at 66. Tuscarora would score another basket, but Heritage completed their comeback, as Jannes converted two free throws, and scored the game-winning layup.
“We’re just trying to get better every game,” Coach Hatchett said. “We can’t get too high, we can’t get too low.”