But Berkeley left the Patriots feeling rusty.
After battling back from a 71-57 fourth-quarter deficit, senior guard Pierre Carter missed a game-tying three pointer at the buzzer as Heritage (12-3) fell 75-72 to the Yellowjackets (7-6).
“We battled back at the end there, but we didn’t play well tonight,” said Heritage head coach Pat Cruickshank. “That wasn’t our team that was playing the last two weeks. Hopefully we learn from it and move on.”
Fresh off winning the Bambauer Classic, Heritage rode senior Shon Briggs to an early 22-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the sting of Berkeley seniors Henry Cornelious and Justyce Key, who each scored 20 points, turned the game into a back-and-fourth battle the rest of the way.
Briggs was a constant force in the low post for Heritage all night. He finished with 31 points, including eight in the final two minutes, to pull the Patriots within two with seven seconds left.
After senior guard David Jacobs sunk one of two free throws for Berkeley to give the Yellowjackets a three-point lead, Carter got an open look from beyond the three-point line, but it bounced off the rim as time expired.
“It was a struggle,” Briggs said. “We came out kind of quiet. We haven’t played in a week, and came out slow and sloppy. We have to step it up next game.”
Heritage, which had lost only to Dublin and Arcata prior to Monday, struggled to maintain its edge after posting an eight-point lead at the end of the first quarter. Berkeley answered with a 9-3 run to open the second quarter, capped by a layup by Jacobs to tie the game at 25 with 5:17 to go in the half. Jacobs finished the night with 10 points.
Heritage took its last lead of the game, 33-32, on a bucket by Briggs with two minutes to go in the second half before trailing 42-37 at halftime.
“We have to learn to start the game early,” Briggs said. “You have to come out and start from warm-ups.”
Cornelious appeared to seal the game for Berkeley on a dunk to give the Yellowjackets their biggest lead of the game at 71-57 with 3:25 left in regulation. But Heritage answered with a 15-4 run in the losing effort.
“One of the things we’ve done well this year is learn well from our losses,” Cruickshank said. “We’ll learn from this one and bounce back Friday.”
The Patriots open league play at home Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. against Antioch.