White House Heritage boys basketball entered Friday’s senior night clash with Westmoreland looking to leapfrog the Eagles for second place in the District 6-2A standings.
The Patriots, who claimed a 15-point road victory over Westmoreland on Jan. 30, were in the midst of a three-game winning streak where each of their wins came away from White House.
The latest victory, a two-point win over East Robertson on Thursday, looked to be a launching pad for a potential deep tournament run for Carl Miller’s inexperienced basketball team.
But in the second game of their latest back-to-back, the Patriots showed signs of fatigue and rust in a 32-30 loss to Westmoreland.
“I could tell in our walkthrough today that the guys were a little tired,” Miller said. “We cut (our walkthrough) short but we still can’t use that as an excuse for why we played so poorly. I thought they overmatched us with their physicality in the first half, and we really didn’t match it until the third quarter.”
The Patriots were held to just two points in the first quarter – an Avery Coles bucket with just over 1:40 remaining in the period – while the Eagles opened up a six-point lead thanks to three buckets from senior forward Cooper Abner.
After taking an 8-2 lead into the second frame, Cherie Abner’s Eagles extended their advantage to double digits by the end of the first half. Karson Anderson and Cooper Abner each tallied 3-pointers in the quarter, while senior center Preston King added four points of his own.
Outside of a bucket by junior Noah Green, the lone source of offense for Heritage came from Coles, who ended the night with a game-high 16 points.
“Everybody knows we like to feed the post and get Avery involved every chance we can get,” Miller said. “We know that most teams will try to double the post, so we need our guards to knock down some shots and not force us to be so one dimensional.”
Despite its subpar shooting in the first half, Heritage opened up the second looking like a completely different team.
Miller’s group went on an 8-0 run to start the third quarter, trimming their once 10-point deficit to just two.
But with all the momentum on the side of the Patriots, Anderson nailed two 3-pointers to quickly rebuild a 10-point advantage for Westmoreland.
“Our guys did a much better job of playing with some energy and matching their physicality,” Miller said. “Unfortunately it was kind of for naught, as they ended the quarter with the same lead as they started. They just made the shots and plays when it mattered.”
Heritage mounted one last charge midway through the final frame, cutting its 10-point deficit back to two after 3-pointers from Green and Aric Lopez.
But a last -second shot from Coles fell short of the rim as time expired, clinching the No. 2 seed for Westmoreland in next week’s District 6-2A tournament.
“At halftime we talked about going out and just taking it one possession at a time,” Miller said. “The second half quickly became a half of runs, but our guys never quit and I am glad to see them continue to fight and not give up.
“We will head into the district tournament next week, where we know it’s going to be a battle. There won’t be any surprises between any of the teams, and hopefully we can go out and have fun and enjoy the moment.”
Westmoreland 32, White House Heritage 30
WM 8 12 10 2 – 32
WH 2 8 10 10 – 30
Westmoreland (32): Cooper Abner 9, Karson Anderson 9, Preston King 6, Bryson Maxwell 4, Jacob Richardson 4
White House Heritage (30): Avery Coles 16, Noah Green 7, Pryce Payne 4, Aric Lopez 3