Heritage School certainly did enough to get Holy Spirit’s attention in the first meeting between the GISA’s top-two basketball programs since last year’s Class AAA title game.
The Hawks took a lead into halftime and got a boost from the return of senior Dylan McLean, who sat out Friday’s big win over Calvary Christian.
But the Cougars and standout Anthony “Ant Man” Edwards held their ground at home to a 60-53 victory.
Heritage School will have to wait until later this month to get a chance to even the regular season series after facing Holy Spirit for the 11th time in the past three years. The Hawks dropped their seventh straight meeting since a win in January 2017.
Both teams have spent most of the 2018-19 season playing a tough non-league schedule. Holy Spirit improved to 6-8 overall and took over sole possession of first in Region 1-AAA at 3-0.
The Hawks fell to 9-8 overall and 3-1 in region play.
Senior Lance Terry had six points of his team-high 20 points in the opening quarter and McLean had two early baskets to help keep Heritage within range in a 12-10 deficit heading into the second period.
Terry’s jumper with just over six minutes left in the second quarter gave the Hawks a 21-20 lead en route to 12 points by the break.
In the third, however, Holy Spirit regained a 29-23 advantage with a thundering dunk by Edwards through the lane and the Hawks turned the ball over on their ensuing possession on what looked to be a ball tipped by Holy Spirit.
Held to four points through the first half, Edwards responded with 11 points in the third including four 3-pointers en route to a game-high 24 in the victory.
Just after connecting from the left side of the arc for a 39-25 advantage, Edwards closed the period by firing just a step outside the circle at center court for a buzzer-beater to keep the Holy Spirit lead at 15.
Heritage whittled its deficit back to 10 on a feed from Terry to Connor Thompson under the basket with 5:30 to play.
The teams meet again on Friday, Jan. 25 at The Heritage Center before likely meeting again to determine the Region 1-AAA title before heading back into the GISA state tournament.
In other local action:
Trinity Christian 70, Fulton Leadership 50: Outside region play on the road against a 6-A opponent, Trinity held its ground while led by Brady
Burnett’s 21 points in another balanced effort for the Lions.
With the win, Trinity, which has faced a tough non-region schedule, inched closer to .500 at 8-9 overall.
Along with Burnett, fellow junior Shamari Reed added 16 points to go with 10 from Giancarlo Bastianoni Sanchez.
The Lions also picked up seven from Maclean Hoekwater and six from Tyler Whitfield. Senior Jacob Blair chipped in with four points in the victory.
Westlake 71, Newnan 51: On the road, Newnan stayed within a 16-10 deficit after one quarter before the Lions exploded for 21 points in the second to pull away.
Westlake improved to 10-7 and won its first Region 2-7A game of the year to move to 1-2. Newnan dropped to 0-4 in region play and 6-12 overall heading into Friday’s home game against Campbell (10-6, 0-4).
New Manchester 60, Northgate 38: The Vikings continue to search for their first win of 2019 after being denied by the Jaguars.
Northgate fell to 6-11 and 0-8 in Region 5-6A play while looking to snap a six-game slide on Friday at Creekside.
Holy Spirit 64, Heritage School 28: On the road, the Lady Hawks dropped their first Region 1-AAA game while facing the defending GISA Class AAA state champions.
The two programs have combined to win the last two GISA state titles.
Heritage had its record drop to 11-2 overall and 4-1 in region play. Holy Spirit improved to 9-3.
Westlake 82, Newnan 37: The No. 1 state-ranked Lady Lions padded an 18-7 lead after one quarter by exploding for 28 points in the second at home.
Westlake stayed unbeaten at 15-0 overall and 3-0 in Region 2-7A play.
Newnan was led by 12-point performances from sophomore K.K. Madrey and senior Hailey Bloom with the duo combining on five of the Lady Cougars’ six three-pointers.
Madrey added a team-high five rebounds and three steals in the loss for the Lady Cougars (6-11, 1-3).
Westlake junior Carlyse Hooks was 9 of 11 shooting from the field en route to a game-high 22 points while sophomore teammate Raven Johnson added 18 in the victory.
Junior Lydia Freeman paced the Lady Lions with 14 points while Newnan freshman Ashira Brown finished with six.
New Manchester 66, Northgate 18: On the road, the Lady Vikings struggled offensively in a Region 5-6A matchup against a 15-2 New Manchester team that averages over eight steals per game.
New Manchester, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in last year’s Class 6A state tournament, remained one game behind Douglas County’s girls in the Region 5 standings at 9-1.
Northgate fell to 4-10 overall and 1-7 in region play.