Seventy-First ends Heritage's dream season with third-round upset
Posted February 26
Wake Forest, N.C. — Seventy-First senior point guard Jmon Raeford sneaked behind two defenders and scored with seconds remaining to upset No. 1 Heritage, 63-62, Saturday night, punching the Falcons’ ticket to the fourth round of N.C High School Athletic Association 4A state playoffs.
Falcons’ junior forward Zion Autry threaded the needle between Heritage senior Thayer Thomas and junior Jarren McAllister, finding Raeford streaking to the basket for the game-winning score.
“I think we could’ve pressured the ball a little better,” said Heritage head coach Tilden Brill. “We didn’t have anyone on the help side. It was a heck of a play. We wanted to face-guard No. 5, but he just did a good job of beating us back door. [It was] a real basic play but very well executed.”
Raeford tallied a team-high 17 points Thursday night and Autry scored 16 in the upset win.
Seventy-First trailed by 10 points in the second quarter, but the Falcons chipped a way at the lead and were the beneficiary of several late-half Heritage turnovers.
“Live-ball turnovers will kill you every time, and we just had too many of those,” Brill said. “You think back to the first half – they go on maybe a 5-0 run and cut our lead from 10 at one point. And then we go into the locker room up two and lose by one.
“It’s not just the end of the game, but plays that weren’t made in the first, second and third quarters. Those plays at the end just get magnified.”
Senior Ricardo Rubio-Santiago drilled a three-pointer from the wing with time winding down to lessen the Falcons’ deficit to two points, 32-30, which would stand heading into the mid-way pint.
Rubio-Santiago scored seven points in the second frame and finished the contest with 12 points.
The sharpshooting senior hit his second triple of the game to give Seventy-First its first lead of the second half, 43-42, with 1:08 remaining in the third quarter.
Seventy-First carried its lead into the final frame, but the teams battled back-and-forth over the final eight minutes.
Heritage standout junior Jayden Gardner missed a basket with less than three minutes to play but grabbed his own rebound and scored and was awarded a free throw after being fouled.
Gardner, who shot 62 percent from the charity stripe Thursday night, missed the free throw, but senior Ian Hinkley grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled while shooting.
Trialing by two points, Hinkley stepped to the line and made both shots, knotting the game at 57-57 with 2:13 remaining in the contest.
Seventy-First junior Dontravious Byrd, who earlier gave the Falcons a two-point lead, answered the call again to put the Fayetteville visitors up 61-59 with 53.4 seconds to play.
Heritage had to play the final 53.4 seconds remaining without Gardner after the junior was called for a blocking foul in the lane on Seventy-First Dontravious Byrd.
Bryd stepped up to the line and gave the visitors from Fayetteville a 61-59 lead, but the one-loss Huskies had an answer without its leading scorer.
Heritage’s leading three-point shooter on the season, senior Colton Reed, drained his 86th triple to give the Huskies a one-point lead with less than 30 seconds to play.
The Huskies had a chance on its next possession to lead by as many as four points but sophomore Dyson Pender missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the ball back to Seventy-First with 15.4 seconds remaining.
Seventy-First grabbed the Pender miss, advanced the ball up court and called a timeout with 11.2 seconds left to draw up its final play that would end up sending the Falcons to the regional finals.
“We’ve done a lot of things we haven’t done before here at Heritage; winning our first regular season championship, winning a holiday tournament and getting this first seed,” Brill said. “We just couldn’t get it done today, but this team means everything to me. They’ve set a new standard for Heritage basketball.”
Gardner led all scorers with 24 points and 20 rebounds Thursday night, recording his 27th double-double of the season.
Heritage’s second leading scorer – junior Jarren McAllister – finished the game with only eight points and was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Hinkley and Reed combined for 21 points Thursday night, tallying 11 and 10 points apiece.
The Huskies finished the 2016-17 season with a program-best 28-2 record and its first trip to the third round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs.
Seventy-First advances to the fourth round with the victory and will host No. 17 Leesville Road Tuesday evening in Fayetteville. The Pride upset No. 3 Garner Saturday night, 63-60, at South Garner High School.