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Heights boys edge South 46-44

Published Jan. 10 at 11:22 p.m. | Last updated Jan. 11 at 6:48 a.m.

Almost every part of Friday’s basketball game against Heights suited South best, down to the way most of the final moments were spent – with the Falcons on the free-throw line.

Heights was unable to completely seal it there, making 5 of 11 in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons had just enough to hold off South. Forced into a halfcourt-oriented game in which it does not excel, Heights nevertheless managed a 46-44 win.

Heights isn’t particularly comfortable out of its full-court press or on the line, where it made 9 of 20 Friday. South’s strengths are getting the ball to physical forward Jordan Moore or kicking it out to its shooters, and the Titans nearly rode those, along with Heights’ mistakes, to victory.

But two zone-busting three-pointers by Tre King gave Heights breathing room, even though the Falcons needed plenty of breath to exhale after the final buzzer.

“Tonight you just had to grit your teeth and figure out a way to win the game,” Heights coach Joe Auer said. “I thought we won the game on the defensive boards at the end. We held them to one shot for most of the first quarter.

“We missed free throws, we missed layups … but to our kids’ credit, we defended almost all night. They never really cracked the code.”

Heights led 12-10 after the first quarter and the teams scored the exact same amount of points in each of the next three. Heights’ press was ineffective because the Falcons didn’t make enough shots to use it consistently and because South had little trouble breaking it.

The Falcons were effective defending the halfcourt, holding South to 18 of 46 shooting, but Heights rarely found its bearings on the offensive end. Leading scorer Ealy Bell found little room for his specialty, creating his own shot, and Heights didn’t make enough threes to force South out of the zone.

Center Davon Gill made all of his five shots, but disappeared at times when South’s zone sagged. The Falcons’ best offensive stretch was when Tre King made consecutive fourth-quarter three-pointers, sparking a run that turned a tie game into a 41-34 advantage.

“Tre is quite capable,” Auer said. “He didn’t hesitate. Our guys don’t hesitate, and he’s done that for us in practice. I’m very proud of him and his confidence. He’s a confident athlete, and he knew we needed to make a play there. He’s got the green light when he’s open.”

South matched Heights’ futility at the line, missing 9 of 14, including five of eight in the fourth. Moore scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds, but the Titans never retrieved momentum after King’s threes.

“They hit some big shots, and it worked out for them,” South coach Charles Gunter said. “I think they missed some free throws like we did, but they hit the big shots when they needed them, when it counted.”

South101191444
Heights121191446

SOUTH: Hudspeth 0 1-2 1, Lee 2 1-2 6, Griffin 5 1-2 11, Moore 6 2-7 14, Brown 4 0-0 10, Rogers 1 0-1 2.

HEIGHTS: Hervey 4 1-2 11, King 3 2-4 10, Bell 3 1-4 7, A. Johnson 1 1-4 4, Wilbeck 0 3-4 3, Gill 5 1-3 11.