by Bill Turner
Heritage overcame a five-point deficit to start the fourth quarter, and the Pioneers managed to escape the Salem Civic Center last Saturday night with the 48-42 win over Hidden Valley in the Group AA Division IV quarterfinal.
Hidden Valley head coach Troy Wells had put a masterful game plan into action for the first three quarters that kept the talented Heritage team at bay and allowed Hidden Valley to control the tempo.
Things looked good for the Titans in the early going. After Heritage scored the first four points of the game, Hidden Valley responded with a 12-0 run that put the Titans in control, and allowed Hidden Valley to hold the ball near midcourt as Heritage refused to come out of its tightly packed 2-3 zone defense.
Hidden Valley went to the halftime break up 22-18. The action had been so subdued in that those first two quarters, there were only five fouls committed between the two squads.
Heritage retook the lead in the third quarter 27-26, before Hidden Valley closed with a 6-0 run on a Malik Williams 3-pointer and a Thomas Nave basket and foul, sending the Titans to the final frame with the 32-27 advantage.
Things turned on a dime for Heritage to start the fourth quarter. The Pioneers went to a full-court press that led to several Titan turnovers. On three occassions, Heritage misfired from the field, only to have the rebound bounce their way for a stick-back basket.
The resulting 12-2 run put Heritage up 39-34 midway through the final quarter and Hidden Valley could never get back over the hump.
Dylan Hodson’s long-range trey got the Titans to within 2 points with 3:43 left. Hidden Valley center Austin Beecher again closed the gap to two with just under a minute left.
After a Heritage free throw, Hodson scored to cut the deficit to 43-42 with :36.4 left, but Hidden Valley would not score again and Heritage closed the game out with five free throws as Hidden Valley was forced to foul.
“We had 12 second-half turnovers, and that was the difference in the game,” Wells noted in the Titan locker room after the game. “I draw it on the blackboard all the time. There’s a fine line between getting a W and getting a L. This game was a prime example of that.”
The Hidden Valley defense held Heritage to 16-for-43 shooting from the floor, and the Pioneers hit only 1-of-12 attempts from behind the arc.
“We handled it well in the first three quarters,” Wells added. “I was surprised Heritage let us control the tempo and shorten the game.”
“We had a chance down the stretch,” Wells pointed out. “These kids did everything we asked them to do.”
Williams led the Hidden Valley scoring with 12 points, all coming on 4 baskets from behind the arc. Hodson added 10, while senior floor-leader Daniel Rowe had 9 points for the Titans. Beecher (6) , Nave (3) and Will Pilat (2) rounded out the Hidden Valley attack.