Freshman's 31 points paces Heritage sweep of Trinity
When your team leader is out of action, it always is necessary for someone to step up in that person's place. When the one who steps up is a freshman, it makes it that much more special.
The Heritage School's girls basketball team has been forced to play without team leader Lillie Smith and in her absence, freshman point guard Kara Groover has taken the team on her back.
Friday's showdown against crosstown GISA Region 1-AAA rival Trinity Christian was no exception, as Groover led the Lady Hawks to a hardfought 54-47 win over the Lady Lions on their home court.
Groover netted 31 points and stole the show with her hustle and physical play on both ends of the floor. She even survived a brutal collision on a lay-up attempt with the Lions' Sirena Eller in which Groover slammed hard onto the floor.
'She's one of those special talents,' Hawks coach D.J. Clay said. 'She is just getting into the flow of things. We are lucky to have a point guard who can put up 20-30 points.'
The win upped the Hawks' record to 9-3 overall, but more importantly pushed them ahead 1-0 in region play.
'Right now we are 1-0,' Clay said. 'We are just trying to win region games. Our goal is to win the region championship. Right now we are 1-0. Tonight was the first step.'
Trinity's girls fell to 6-5 (0-1) with the loss.
'Our girls fought hard and I'm proud of them,' Trinity coach Brian Long said. 'Heritage is a good team. This was a good gauge of where we are as a team.'
Heritage managed to pull out a doubleheader sweep with a 65-49 victory in the boys game led by Cole Jones' dominating effort inside the paint.
The 6-3 sophomore center went 11 of 16 from the field en route to teamhighs of 24 points and 11 rebounds. Mack Wilkins added four points and nine rebounds while Rich Yancey and Glavine Groover paced the offense with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
The Hawks took a 14-9 lead into the second quarter before beginning to pull away before halftime while outscoring Trinity 21-12 to take a 13-point lead into the break.
Heritage's boys increased its lead to 52-34 after three quarters as nine Hawks factored in the scoring despite hitting 13 of 27 attempts from the freethrow line.
Meanwhile, the Lady Lions got out to a strong start in the girls game while putting their focus quickly on Groover.
Trinity's Sara Bryan opened the scoring with a pair of early free throws and the team stayed ahead 6-4 after a pair of jump shots by Eller and Eve Taylor respectively.
That small run was answered with four unanswered points by Groover and teams traded the lead again when the Lady Lions ended the first period ahead 16-14.
Heritage closed out the second quarter by scoring seven of the last 10 points for a 28-27 lead at halftime.
'We put on a few runs, and they did too,' Clay said. 'In the third quarter we had a chance to put them away, but we let them come back.'
Going to a full-court press, Heritage began to swing momentum in the third while forcing 28 turnovers and taking a 37-30 lead late in the third only to see Trinity answer with six unanswered points to pull within one.
'The difference in the game was turnovers,' Long Said. 'Every time we made a run to come back, we made a mistake.'
The Hawks put the game away with a 5-2 run over the final 1:15 for the 54-47 final.
Kara Groover's sister Karlee finished with 8 points for the Hawks, while Maggie Crosby added 5.
Ashley Caldwell led the Lady Lions with 21 points. Bryan added 14 and Kaley Grace chipped in with 6.