Pats triumph over Princeton, 63-32

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Heritage Hills senior Avery Neff (5) prepares to take an outside shot during the first quarter of Thursday evening’s game against Princeton in Lincoln City.


LINCOLN CITY — When Heritage Hills (16-4, 11-1) needed a boost in the early stages of Thursday evening’s Pocket Athletic Conference contest against Princeton, the Patriots’ defense answered the bell. Heritage Hills clogged up Princeton’s potential passing lanes and rode the momentum en route to a 63-32 victory over the Tigers.

“It’s something that we really work on,” Heritage Hills head coach Kim Brown said. “I felt like we had a little dip in our execution over Christmas break. We let up a little bit. Honestly, we had some easy wins that we took for granted. I think we’ve started to kick it back into gear over the last couple of weeks.”

Pats junior Hadley Lytton found a groove from beyond the arc before providing a critical basket in the second quarter. Lytton stepped through the paint, maneuvered past some defenders and flicked the ball through the net with a deft touch. The layup gave Heritage Hills a 19-7 lead and forced Princeton to take a timeout.

“Starting slow has been our bugaboo here lately,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t call this start as slow as some of our others have been. It’s just getting that fluid motion of the offense clicking. You want to get one basket and then another one like that. It’s just a great drive in penetration, and everybody feeds off it. It just keeps going from there.”

The Pats kept hustling after the stoppage in play. When the Tigers drove toward the basket, a swarm of white jerseys protected the paint and contested shots at the rim.

Lytton, junior Ella Schnieders and senior Avery Neff provided Heritage Hills with some key baskets throughout the remainder of the second quarter. The Pats took a 29-11 lead into the intermission.

Heritage Hills senior Rebekah Gordon asserted herself in the second half. Gordon drew fouls on drives and spaced the floor with proficient outside shooting. When senior Nevah Barnett drained a 3-pointer from the right corner, the Heritage Hills bench roared in excitement.

“That’s got to be the best-balanced scoring that we’ve had all year,” Brown said. “It’s hard to defend eight players that put the ball in the hole.”

Lytton skipped through the lane for another layup before Neff knocked down a 3-pointer of her own. Stifling defense helped the Pats earn a 50-22 lead right before the third quarter concluded.

Heritage Hills sealed the conference win with proficient bench play. When the reserves entered the game, the Pats kept their consistent offense humming.

After the final buzzer sounded, Brown reflected on the conference season.

“We did everything we could except beat Washington,” she said. “A little positive that I can pull out of us not winning the conference is that we actually beat more teams than Washington did. They weren’t able to get the full PAC schedule in. It’s not a conference championship, and we’d love to have that chance back. That was one of those games where I felt like we let up. That was a very good team victory tonight.”

Gordon led the Patriots with a game-high 13 points. Schnieders contributed 11 points, while Lytton and sophomore Olivia Susnjara added 10 points apiece.

Heritage Hills will face Mount Vernon at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a first-round sectional game at Mount Vernon. The Pats earned a 44-9 victory over the Wildcats on Monday.

“Anybody can pull it off any given night,” Brown said. “It’s win or go home, so everybody is putting it all out there. We need to get the best effort out of everybody. Every single kid and every team is going to come out with everything that they’ve got. Just the idea of coming away with a sectional championship is what you’re working for all season.”

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