When layups were swirling in and out of the rim and points became a premium, it was the resilience of the Heights boys that prevailed on Friday night.
The Falcons missed 47 of their 70 shots, but won the rebounding and turnover advantage over Southeast to redeem a 64-53 victory. The win improves Heights to 6-1 and keeps it one game back from Kapaun Mount Carmel atop the City League standings.
“It was a game of missed shots, whether it was free throws or layups,” Heights coach Joe Auer said. “That meant it became a game of rebounding. We had 40 rebounds tonight and that was huge. Both teams can shoot so much better than they did, but when you get 40 rebounds, you get second-chance points and you give yourself an opportunity.”
Southeast star Israel Barnes once again posted a sterling stat line (26 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, two blocks), but for the third time this season it came in a loss for Southeast (4-3).
The Buffaloes started the game with a 10-2 lead, but their offense never looked as smooth as it did when Barnes opened the game with back-to-back three-pointers.
Heights employed its typical zone defense to much success, as Southeast struggled to consistently piece together the passes necessary to find the unguarded shots. Southeast coach Melvin Herring said he was pleased with the execution of the game plan, but disappointed in the results from the free-throw line.
“Anytime you go 9 for 29 from the free-throw line, you’re not going to win the game,” Herring said. “The free-throw line is what hurt us, not the zone. We make half of those and we win that game. But give Heights credit, they earned it.”
Neither side could gain much separation during the first three quarters. It was a two-point game early in the fourth quarter before a Tyrell Andrews three-pointer kickstarted the game-winning run for Heights. After the Andrews triple, Heights rattled off nine straight points to open a 56-43 lead with 4:24 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Andrews finished with a team-high 18 points to go along with nine rebounds and three steals.
“Even though you’re struggling to score, you have to stay determined and just keep attacking the rim,” Andrews said.
Auer credited Heights’ advantage rebounding, 40-36, over Southeast as the key to the game. Southeast also committed 16 turnovers against Heights’ zone defense and shot 32 percent from the field.
“You have to have your mindset be that I’m going to get every rebound,” said Heights senior Decquan Richardson, who had nine rebounds. “This is my rebound, every single time.”
With leading scorer Devin Davis limited to five points, Heights relied on timely efforts from bench players such as Braxton Kirkendoll (six points), Trenton Driskill (six points, five rebounds), and Jaden Okon (six rebounds).
“Whatever it takes to win, that’s what we’ll do,” Auer said. “We had a lot of bench players step up. For us, that’s a typical Heights-Southeast game. It’s not pretty. It’s a lot of speed and a lot of shots that are being contested. You better get loose balls and rebounds because there are a lot of great athletes out there.”
SOUTHEAST: I. Barnes 26, S. Warrior 9, M. Jacques 9, O. McGee 3, M. Perkins 3, J. Murdock 2, C. Williams 1.
HEIGHTS: T. Andrews 18, A. Collins 13, D. Richardson 8, B. Kirkendoll 6, T. Driskell 6, D. Davis 5, K. Baker 4, C. Profit 4.