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Lexi & Burger’s Last Ride

Heritage duo becomes first of special group

For their performances over the course of their careers, including a memorable last stand Monday night, Heritage’s Lexi Patty, left, and Katlin Burger have been selected as the first official inductees into the Blount Press Row Hall of Fame.

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

She chews gum while she plays.

And deals.

We’re really going to miss that about Lexi Patty.

The Heritage guard paired with fellow senior Katlin Burger to give us some memorable moments the last four years, but none more deserving of being remembered than their final game.

A worthy Bearden team ended their season and with it their careers as Lady Mountaineers with a 67-59 win in a Region 2AAA semifinal on Monday. Few who saw it will remember the score, though.

That fourth quarter?

One for the books. A little background.

The Lady Bulldogs entered the game a heavy favorite. It’s why Blount Press Row picked that game to cover. Bearden won by 25 in January in Knoxville. The rematch at Heritage didn’t go much better for the Lady Mountaineers in early February, the Lady Bulldogs racing away to win by 18.

So why pick that game?

Why would this one be any different?

Patty and Burger, and their coach.

Dynamic Heritage guard finished her career in blue with 1,000-plus career points. In a 2021 contest, the Tusculum signee set the school record for rebounds in a game with 13.

Rick Howard didn’t become the winningest coach in Heritage history by accident. He’s learned a few things over the years. He’ll adjust. Above all else, the trademark of every Lady Mountaineer team he’s coached is the fight they display. Heritage will come at you. You can count on it.

To change things in the third meeting with the Lady Bulldogs, Howard crafted a winning plan: Use a zone defense to stay close enough to mount a fourth-quarter charge – “when (the Lady Bulldogs) were a little tired,” he said – then jump into the press and give it all you got.

The best laid plans of mice and men …

Patty and backcourt mate Bekah Gardner were quickly in foul trouble. Gardner would eventually foul out. With six minutes remaining, Heritage was 17 points back and, valiant though they may be, it was simply too big a hole. Then, WHAM!

Burger and Patty uncorked the mother of all fight backs. The shots they put home were extraordinary.

(Editor: See video.)

With 30 seconds left, Heritage was within five.

The two-sport star concluded her career at Heritage with 1,000-plus career points in basketball and 100 goals in soccer. In her senior season on the hardwood in 2021, the UVA-Wise signee shot 51 percent from the floor.

That’s why we picked Heritage at Bearden. You knew, no matter what, Patty and Burger would play to the horn.

Again, the Lady Bulldogs (29-1) proved themselves worthy district and region champions, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot to stay clear, but the way Heritage rallied in the fourth quarter … that had to be worth something.

It is.

“I’m so proud of my kids,” Howard said. “The fight they showed right there … Katlin and Lexi, they’ve been unbelievable. They put the team on their back all season long. For us to beat people like we did in our district … they had D1 kids; we don’t, but our kids just worked so hard and bought into hard work.

“They (Patty and Burger) don’t want to be the stars. They want to be a part of something special.”

Okay. How’s this?

In honor of their dual 1,000-point careers, for the way they represented their school, for, even though it fell short, a comeback we will never forget, Blount Press Row is making Patty and Burger the two inaugural inductees into the BPR Hall of Fame.

It’s an idea we’ve had for some time. Blount Press Row turns 10 in December. The hall is our way to thank the athletes and subscribers who’ve helped us get this far.

In the coming days, we’ll complete the build of the hall and give it its place on our homepage. The graphics you see above will become our way of retiring the jerseys of those we induct. Once the hall is finished, the list from our first 10 years is going to grow, and pretty quickly, so check back.

We wanted Patty and Burger to be the first two because, as their coach said, what they did Monday night, all season long, really, was “something special.”

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