The Heritage boys’ basketball team opened the North Coast Section Division 1 playoffs Tuesday night as a big underdog against Clayton Valley.
But the Patriots surely didn’t play like it.
No. 14 Heritage shocked No. 3 Clayton Valley 56-52 in front of a near capacity crowd in Concord.
The Patriots move on to host No. 11 Deer Valley on Friday at 7 p.m.
“I think we just don’t want to lose; we don’t want the season to be over,” said Heritage head coach Carly Perales. “We have some guys that have a will to win, a will to compete, and it’s inside them. That is all I can say.”
The guard trio of Lamar Murphy (16 points), Sebastian Duran (15 points) and Isaiah Hinds (12 points) combined to score all 20 of Heritage’s fourth-quarter points, as Heritage never trailed in the quarter and fought off a feisty Ugly Eagles bunch, who twice tied the game in the final frame.
The Patriots, who didn’t take their first lead until early in the second half, closed out the contest on a 9-5 run over the final four minutes to seal the victory.
Clayton Mahloch’s open three brought the Ugly Eagles within 2 with 40 seconds left, and Heritage turned the ball over seconds later, but Clayton Valley’s Semajay Brown missed go-ahead 3, as Heritage regained possession with 2 seconds remaining.
Murphy put the finishing touches on the victory with two free-throws.
“We want to keep going, we want to keep playing,” said Murphy, who scored 11 of his game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Duran scored all 15 of his points in the second half, and Hinds was also huge in the second half, picking up eight of his 12 points.
“We all think we are the best,” Duran said. “ You have to have that confidence, you have to have that mindset.”
Perales said his squad hit many of his pregame marks to pull out the road victory.
The Patriots (12-15, 5-5 in league play) held Clayton Valley to around 50 points; bounced back from expected early nerves and turnovers caused by the big-game road atmosphere; managed to break the Ugly Eagles’ pressure and traps, especially in the second half; and kept the game close heading into the final frame.
“We came in with a game plan and did the best we could to execute it,” Perales said. “On the road, in the playoffs, you just want to be there in the fourth quarter and give yourself an opportunity to win.”
Heritage exploded out of halftime on a 10-0 run to lead by five halfway through the quarter, but the Ugly Eagles closed the quarter on a 14-8 run to take a 1-point lead into the fourth.
Duran’s bucket to start the final frame, however, gave Heritage a 1-point lead, and the Patriots didn’t trail the rest of the contest.
But the Ugly Eagles made the Patriots sweat.
Murphy’s bucket just before the midpoint of the fourth gave Heritage a 7-point lead, but Clayton Valley answered with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 47 with just under five minutes remaining.
Back-to-back scores by Duran and Murphy opened up a 4-point Heritage lead, but Pedro Alday’s score cut the Ugly Eagles deficit to 2 with 1:49 left.
Duran’s 3 pushed Heritage’s lead up to 5 with 57 seconds left, but Mahloch’s 3 brought Clayton Valley within 2 with 40 seconds left.
A Heritage turnover, two missed Clayton Valley looks at the bucket and two Murphy free-throws later, the Patriots emerged confident victors.
“We knew we were the underdogs — knew they’d underestimate us — so we came in here with something to prove,” Murphy said.
Mahloch led the Ugly Eagles with 14 points in the loss, and Jayson Downs added 10.
Looking ahead, Heritage and Deer Valley split the season set, with Deer Valley defeating Heritage 56-47 on Jan. 28 and the Patriots knocking off the Wolverines 42-40 to close out the regular season on Feb. 12.
OTHER local playoff scores
No. 5 San Leandro 67
No. 12 Pittsburg 47
No. 6 Carondelet 51
No. 11 Freedom 39
No. 4 Moreau Catholic 73
No. 13 Liberty 57
No. 5 Monte Vista 75
No. 12 Pittsburg 38
No. 11 Deer Valley 54
No. 6 Amador Valley 45