The Heritage High School girls’ basketball team entered its game with Liberty last week plenty motivated.

The Lions had put a scare into the Patriots earlier this season; Heritage’s five seniors were honored before the game; and star Abby Muse took to the court just a few rebounds shy of 1,000 in her career.

Heritage didn’t disappoint, racing to an 18-2 first-quarter lead, en route to a convincing 69-40 win.

To make the win even sweeter, Muse grabbed her illustrious 1,000th career rebound just four minutes into the game, officially becoming a member of the school’s 1,000-1,000 club. She notched her 1,000th point on Dec. 27.

“Honestly, I am really proud of this (rebound) accomplishment because rebounds are kind of underappreciated,” Muse said, before commenting on her team’s win. “I think we came out a lot more aggressive. We definitely had that last game in mind. Having that focused mindset and just being ready to go after them really helped us today.”

The Patriots’ win came just weeks after they defeated Liberty 55-39 in a game that was much closer than the score indicated.

“We talked about coming out a little more aggressive and just executing our offense,” said Heritage head coach Rob Ocon. “We didn’t do that very well the first time (against Liberty). We were a little bit more fired up for today’s game, and our defense was a lot better.”

Senior guard Payton Bradley led the way with 18 points — 7 in the first quarter — and Muse added 14 points and 15 rebounds to propel Heritage (18-4, 7-0) to its fifth-straight victory. Guard Paige Ziemann (11 points) and junior guard Julie Ramirez (10 points) also scored double digits in the contest.

Heritage executed from the start, scoring 18 first-quarter points and holding Liberty to single digits until midway through the second quarter.

The Lions (19-14, 3-4) outscored Heritage 10-7 over the final five minutes of the second quarter to pull within 14, but the Patriots answered with a 10-2 run in the first two minutes of the second half to open a comfortable 22-point cushion.

Liberty junior Rylie Manke led the Lions with 15 points (9 in the second half).

Heritage also knocked off Rocklin 64-25 on Feb. 1 and Freedom 65-54 on Feb. 4.

The Patriots are at the top of the league standings, with a two-game lead over Pittsburg with only three league games remaining.

Liberty defeated Deer Valley 59-19 on Feb. 4.

The Lions host Freedom on Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Heritage returned to the court on Feb. 6 when it hosted Antioch. Results of that game were not available as of press time.

Boys’ Game

The Liberty High School boys’ basketball team used a 34-17 second half run to upend Heritage 52-31.

Lions sophomore forward Josh Clark led the charge, scoring a game-high 16 points — all in the second half — and senior guards Braden Basmagian, Kahli Custard and Zach Moll chipped in with 8 points each.

The win was the Liberty’s third straight — all against league opponents — following a tough six-game losing streak.

“The first half was a little rough for us in terms of getting a little anxious for the game,” said Liberty assistant coach Mike Gregory. “It was a little tight. But the second half we had them a lot more calmed down. They came out with a lot more fire.”

The Lions’ offensive came in alive in the second half, largely due to Clark’s contributions off the bench.

The sophomore scored 8 of the team’s 19 third-quarter points and 8 of 15 fourth-quarter points to propel the Lions (11-11 and 3-3 in league play) to victory.

Liberty outscored Heritage 19-12 in the third and 15-5 in the fourth to hold Heritage down.

Clark’s 3 with 3:58 remaining pushed the Lions’ lead to 18 and cemented the victory.

“My defense really carried me,” Clark said. “When I first came in, I was nervous, I turned the ball over once, but I came back in, pressured the ball, forced a turnover, and that is what carried me.”

Heritage junior guard Lamar Murphy led the Patriots with 10 points in the loss, but Heritage as a team struggled offensively all night, held to a season-low 31 points, including single digits in the first, second and fourth quarters.

The loss dropped Heritage to 9-13 and 3-3 in league play.

Liberty was scheduled to play Deer Valley on Feb. 4. Results of that game were not available as of press time.

The Lions host Freedom on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

Heritage bounced back on Feb. 4 with a 54-47 win over Freedom.

Heritage was slated to travel to Antioch on Feb. 6. Results of that game were not available as of press time.

Deer Valley sits atop the league standings with a three game lead over Heritage and Liberty with only three league games left to play.

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