Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Heritage's Taylor Zelt prepares to shoot the ball as Woodlan's Madi Koos plays defense during Tuesday night's ACAC Tournament first-round game at Heritage. Heritage won 36-33, advancing to Thursday's semifinal against South Adams.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Heritage’s Nevaeh Feasby loses the ball as Woodlan’s Lexia Holmes plays defense in Tuesday night’s ACAC game at Heritage.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018 1:00 am
Heritage 36 Woodlan 33
Shorthanded Patriots move on
With post presence injured, adapt to win tournament opener
AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette
MONROEVILLE – The Heritage girls basketball team recently had to shake up its lineup due to injury but has responded well, including a 36-33 win over Woodlan to open the ACAC Tournament on Tuesday.
Center Karlee Fackler, the team's lone senior, suffered an injury ahead of the tournament forcing the Patriots (8-8) to adjust.
“It's a great feeling. I don't really know how to explain it,” sophomore Bree Dossen said of the win. “Our only post (player) and only senior got hurt, so we needed this to get back into the groove for her and win it for her.
“We had to adjust Taylor (Zelt) and me to post position because, we don't have that many big people. But we're powerful and it just worked out.”
With the absence of a designated post, other players had to adjust to a different kind of playing style.
“We had to start driving, too. We're basically all guards so we just had to start driving more,” junior Nevaeh Feasby said. “(Our team's) strengths are basically driving to the middle. Other than that, shooting. We've been working on shooting a lot and driving to the basket.”
Another motivating factor for Heritage was the 43-39 loss to Woodlan on Dec. 16, before Fackler was injured.
“We've been practicing hard for this,” Feasby said. “They're a rival team, especially, so I think combined with the tournament and being rivals, it was something special. I feel like we've grown a lot. It just means a lot since we worked so hard to beat them because they beat us before.”
The Warriors (6-12) trailed 33-23 with 3:17 left in the game but closed on a 10-3 run. Eight of the points in the run came from Addie Bayman.
Bayman had two opportunities in the closing minutes to tie the game as the Patriots missed free-throw opportunities but neither shot fell.
“I think the previous game, Woodlan's aggressive, we had a hard time handling it the last game, so it shows a lot of growth mentally for our girls,” Heritage coach Melissa Connor said. “They're young but they're still learning, and they definitely handled it a lot better tonight.
“Defensively, we know we needed to stop Addie Bayman and Gabby Joyce, so that's what we practiced, and we came out and tried to do that and, I think, for the most part we were pretty successful with that.”
Heritage scored the final seven points of the first quarter to take a 9-5 lead, but in the second, Woodlan went on a 9-0 run to lead 16-13 with under two minutes left in the half. Free throws tied the game at 16 heading into halftime.
Abby Sheehan led the Patriots with 11 points and Dossen added 10.
Bayman scored 15 points and Lexia Holmes added 10 for the Warriors.
Heritage will face South Adams in Friday's semifinal game.
Note: Former Heritage athletic director and basketball coach Cheri Gilbert was honored with an ACAC Lifetime Achievement Award following the game. Gilbert coached Heritage to five ACAC Tournament championships and the 1982 girls basketball state championship during her time as coach from 1978 to 1987.