Blount Press Row

Long From Done

Overtime loss to Hawks only emboldens Mountaineers

IMG_4311Heritage’s Cody Brimmer brings the ball across the timeline on Tuesday. Photos by Jerry Traxler

Editor’s note: Technical problems Wednesday delayed this report on Tuesday night’s game. Our apologies for the delay.

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

Beware the team that comes in ready to scrap.

Hardin Valley's Zac Carter puts up a shot while defended by Heritage's Hunter Bailey.

The Hawks’ Zac Carter puts up a shot against Hunter Bailey.

Zac Carter put on an unbelievable show in the fourth quarter and overtime, and Hardin Valley held off bleacher-stomping challenge from homestanding Heritage, 65-60, on senior night on Tuesday.

Jake Long sent a large, pro-Mountaineer crowd into a frenzy with a length-of-the-court drive as time expired in regulation, the Heritage guard’s layup sending the game to overtime tied at 46-all.

“That old stuff about the heart of a champion, we showed that tonight,” Heritage coach Bill Duncan said. “We’re going to come out and guard you and we’re going to get after you.”

Carter, among a small group of frontrunners for league player of the year, poured in 20 of his game-high 37 points over the course of the fourth quarter and overtime, enabling the Hawks to put the District 4AAA regular-season race into a three-way tie at the finish line.

“I just recognized I needed to step up and make some plays,” Carter said. “We knew coming in it was their senior night and they were going to play hard.”

The red-hot night from Carter also kept Heritage top gun Hunter Bailey in foul trouble for much of the night, the Mountaineer ace fouling out with two minutes to play in the fourth after a four-point night.

With the district tournament beginning on Tuesday at Farragut, Maryville (20-7, 11-3 4AAA), Bearden (18-7, 11-3) and Hardin Valley (17-7, 11-3) each finished at the top, the Hawks surging over the last month to produce the deadlock.

William Blount’s Governors (15-14, 5-9) will enter in the No. 6 spot. Like the Governors, the Mountaineers (14-14, 4-10) have a tough road ahead to reach the region tournament, but, if Tuesday was any indication, Heritage has more than enough fight left in the tank for the challenge.

“They (the Mountaineers) did not want to lose that game,” Hardin Valley coach Keith Galloway said. “It was their senior night and you could tell they wanted to win.”

Cody Brimmer and Petar Bukerica lit the fuse on a Mountaineer explosion from 3-point range on Tuesday, Brimmer, 12 points, connecting four times from the arc, Bukerica, team-best 15, hitting the mark three times. Andrew Pryor, eight points, and Matt Davis, five, and Long, eight points, also hit once from downtown.

The Mountaineers have the state’s seventh-best scoring defense as postseason nears, but Carter was hot early underneath. With help from guard Blaine Shockley, who finished with 11, the Hawks big man pushed Hardin Valley to leads of 13-5 after one and 23-13 at the half. Heritage, though, was anything but done.

Three-point bombs from Bukerica, Hardwick and Brimmer in the third sparked the Mountaineers to come tearing back. It was 29-28 Hawks at the end of three.

Pryor’s baseline line drive brought Heritage within 45-44 with a minute to play in regulation when the heady point guard converted on the free throw after being fouled. When the Hawks missed on a pair of free throws with six seconds left, the deficit for the Mountaineers now two, Duncan had just the thing to get the Mountaineers even.

“I said, ‘Give it to Jake and you go straight to the basket; they’re not going to stop you,’” Duncan said.

A 9-0 Hardin Valley run to start the extra session got the Hawks home.

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