Heritage Hills hopes to end long sectional droughtJanuary 26, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
LINCOLN CITY — Girls basketball season has been able to commence during the COVID-19 pandemic this season in spite of the fact that some programs have had some of their players, if not their whole team quarantined. It’s a feeling that Heritage Hills knows all too well when its girls squad was quarantined in November.
“I hope that everybody stays healthy and that we have a full sectional,” Patriots coach Kim Brown said. “We just want all the kids to get to play and be able to compete. Everybody’s been hit a little bit here and there. I hope everybody’s healthy by the time it comes around.”
The Pats would certainly want all of their players around to try and give Heritage Hills its first girls basketball sectional championship since 1994.
Heritage Hills’ girls has had a run of competitive teams in recent memory, and the 2020-21 season has brought the program their fifth winning season in a row.
Despite the run of successes in the regular season, the Pats haven’t had much to show for it come tournament time, given their long drought without a championship, and they haven’t even won a sectional game since Feb. 3, 2017.
“Every game’s different, but we’ve had a tough sectional, and every year, it seems like we’re in the mix, but Gibson (Southern) and (Evansville) Memorial are always in there, too,” Brown said. “Any given night, somebody can knock you off, and you just have to bring your best game.”
The Pats got a look at both of these teams during the regular season. Heritage Hills played one of its first games back from quarantine against Memorial, dropping a 71-43 loss Dec. 5 against the Tigers. It was the first time the Pats lost a game this year after starting the season 4-0.
“We played Memorial so soon after our quarantine, we only had a couple of practices before we had to visit them,” Brown said. “So, we were very unprepared, and their aggressiveness, their speed, just took us out of the game almost from the tip. We realized that we have to be able to handle their pressure, and play fast and under control at the same time. So, we’ve been working on that all season, and hopefully we’ll give them a better game when we do see them.”
The Tigers weren’t the only formidable competition that Heritage Hills has seen this season, taking losses Dec. 22 at Silver Creek, 67-46 and Dec. 29 against Washington, 49-33. Brown thought the Dragons and Hatchets brought a lot to their respective games, just as the Tigers did, such as speed and physicality.
Heritage Hills did break through in a big way on Jan. 19, however, securing a win against the Titans, 71-43, as senior Rebekah Gordon and junior Hadley Lytton each had 23 points.
Heritage Hills made eight threes and scored 24 points in the final quarter.
Brown told the Herald before the season started that the Pats were working on defending without fouling — wanting to move up and down the floor and defend without fouling. She said Heritage Hills has been getting “better and better” on the defensive end, but the Pats haven’t done so well with the free throws, while the team hasn’t run up and down the floor as consistently as she would like, but added opposing defenses have also played a part in preventing them from doing so.
This year will be the last year for a seasoned Heritage Hills group to get the job done together, as players like Hadley Lytton and Ella Schnieders are in their junior years, but the Pats are graduating players in Rebekah Gordon, Avery Neff and Nevah Barnett. Brown hopes her team always brings their best game — win or lose, but hopes their big game experience, plus if they play a good defensive game, will factor into their success.
“There’s no question that Memorial is definitely the pick of the litter in our sectional, but anything can happen any night,” Brown said. “So, we’re going in with positive thoughts and working hard to get better every day up until that point.”
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