January 28, 2014 10:04:26 PM
Scott Walters - firstname.lastname@example.org
On "Retro 70s" night, the Heritage Academy basketball teams turned back the clock, wearing uniforms from the 1970s and public address music from that time period was played as well.
Unfortunately, the homestanding Lady Patriots could not turn back the scoreboard clock.
Winston Academy scored 25 first-quarter points and withstood a furious rally to post a 50-43 win over Heritage Academy in a non-region girls basketball game.
"Our first quarter we came out and played really well," Winston Academy coach Robin Chastain said. "We were getting everything that we wanted offensively. We started out in our zone but had to make some adjustments to guard their outside shooters.
"We didn't do a real good job of getting back in transition the last three quarters. To their credit, they made us pay and really got back into the game."
Winston Academy (26-9) used its speed to create separation early. These Lady Patriots had nine of their 16 field goals in the first quarter alone. Back-to-back 3-point baskets by Madeline Kirkpatrick and Hayden Hudspeth helped quickly build an 11-4 lead.
Darby Nowell scored on three straight possessions to end the quarter as Winston Academy built a 25-10 lead after one quarter.
"We did not have a good night with our team defense early," Heritage Academy coach Chris Ball said. "I thought we made some adjustments and played really well in the second half. The discouraging thing was the rebounding. We were not good on the boards the entire night. We never could get that critical rebound when we were trying to rally."
Heritage Academy (15-11) turned up the intensity on the defensive end to climb back into the contest. The homestanding Lady Patriots held Winston Academy for better than four minutes without a field goal in the second quarter. By the time, Lauren Pole rammed home a 3-point basket, a once 17-point lead was trimmed to seven at 25-18.
"We really left off the gas and that happens when you have a young team," Chastain said. "We have been preaching all the year to need to play for four quarters. It is hard. When we play a complete game, we have the chance to be really good. It is hard maintaining that effort.
"In the second quarter, we really didn't attack the rim like we did in the first quarter. Things came too easily early and we backed off a little bit."
Nowell again came to the rescue with back-to-back baskets to end the half with a 33-20 lead.
Still, Heritage Academy continued to battle. Back-to-back baskets early in the third quarter had the deficit to eight points. A 3-pointer by Mary Douglass Kerby had the Heritage Academy within six points late in the third quarter.
"I thought we changed what we were doing on defense and it really worked well in the second half," Ball said. "You like how you came back and made a game of it. We just had a couple of critical possessions there at the end where we couldn't score."
On three different occasions, Heritage Academy trailed by five points - only to turn the ball over the first time and to miss shots from the field on the other two times. Winston Academy hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 45 seconds to seal the win.
Winston Academy will be gearing up to host the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AA, Region 2 tournament next week. Already, the Lady Patriots have made some noise this year. Winston Academy will be the second seed in the event with an 8-2 division record. Both losses have come to undefeated Leake Academy.
The Winston Academy seniors had not beaten Oak Hill Academy in their careers but they did that twice this season - winning by seven at home and 15 at West Point. Friday night, Winston Academy battled back from a 21-point deficit to Starkville Academy, only to fall by three points.
"It has been a great year considering how young we are," Chastain said."We only have two seniors who really play a lot - Madeline Kirkpatrick and Marianne Ward. Nowell is our point guard and she is a junior. We are still learning how to play for four quarters. When we do that, we can be pretty nasty."
Nowell led Winston Academy with 19 points, while Ward added 15 points. Shiloh Ellis led Heritage Academy with 11 points, while Kerby added 10 points.
In the nightcap, the Heritage Academy boys rolled to a 71-43 win.
"Nights like tonight (Retro 70s night) are really good for this program," Heritage Academy coach Gary Harris said. "But I was really afraid of how we would react. It seemed like their was more emphasis on the other stuff and not on playing the game. We came out lazy and without a lot of focus and that is disappointing. It is tough to win by the margin we won by and not feel really good about everything."
Walker Brown led Heritage Academy with 17 points. Austin Fitch added 14 points and Hunter Sykes added 10 points.
"It was our fourth game in five days and you could tell we really didn't have any legs so that is understandable," Harris said. "I am really glad that we got to the free throw line in the second and third quarters (22-of-28 as a team). It was a good sign that we did the things that we needed to do to win the game."
Winston Academy received 13 points from Brock Baker.
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Scott is sports copy editor and reporter