Vikings hoops drops two conference matchups, upsets Mountain Heritage on Senior Night
Jamie Shell / (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Big Red and Madison played tooth-and-nail through the first period, with the Patriots holding a narrow 13-11 edge. A 16-9 second-quarter margin by the Patriots gave the visitors some breathing room on the scoreboard, however, taking a 29-20 lead into halftime.
Each time the Vikings attempted a second-half rally, turnovers or Madison execution shut the door. Madison protected its lead in the fourth quarter by making 12-of-15 free throws in the final quarter. Madison shot 38 free throws for the game, with Avery taking only 21 total foul shots as the Patriots handed the Vikings a home loss.
Chance Watson led the Vikings with 12 points, with nine points from Ty Polsgrove and seven points each from Austin Phillips, James Stewart and Luke Wotell. Madison's Sam Cauthren led all scorers with 22 points.
The following evening, Avery traveled to Columbus to make up the previous week's postponed contest against Polk County. The game was physical from the early going, with hard fouls and posturing for position inside the paint.
Avery took an 11-10 lead after one quarter, only to see Polk grab the lead before halftime and lead 23-22 at intermission.
AHS had difficulty slowing down the athletic Wolverines, including center Ben Stockdale, who consistently kept possessions alive with offensive rebounds. Those chances translated into a 38-32 Polk lead after three quarters.
Although down and perhaps tired from two contests in less than 24 hours, the Vikings found its second wind. Phillips and Lowery rose up to meet the physical play of the Wolverines, while point guard Buchanan continued to create opportunities for teammates and himself with dribble penetration and passes.
Avery rallied to take the lead late, but was unable to secure the game at the free- throw line, where the team made only two-of-nine attempts in the fourth quarter and was just nine-for-21 for the game, including four consecutive missed shots in the game's final 30 seconds.
Trailing by a point with possession and seven seconds remaining, Polk's Stockdale scored on an offensive rebound and put-back shot at the buzzer to steal the win away from the Big Red.
Wotell paced Avery with 10 points, with nine points from Lowery and eight points each from Buchanan and Phillips.
AHS celebrated Senior Night on Friday, Feb. 8, by recognizing the team's only fourth-year player Buchanan. Avery met second-place conference foe Mountain Heritage, whose only two conference losses were to conference-leader Hendersonville. The Vikings battled with heart and passion, eventually ending on top with a hard-fought 51-46 home victory.
Mountain Heritage started strong with a 10-3 run to open the contest using its decisive height advantage inside. AHS rallied, however, with its own 16-4 scoring spurt over the course of a little more than four minutes of play to take a 19-14 lead with 2:55 to play before halftime. The Vikings eventually took a six-point lead into the halftime break at 25-19.
As the second half ensued, Avery continued to build upon its edge, leading by as many as 11 points at 36-25 late in the third quarter. Mountain Heritage refused to disappear, however, as it used a 15-4 scoring run in a six-minute stretch to tie the game at 40-40 with 4:13 to play in the game.
The Vikings took a 42-40 lead on two Polsgrove free throws on Avery's following possession after the Cougars tied the score and never trailed again. Although Avery made only six-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter, Heritage only managed to convert five-of-11 free throws itself as the Big Red held on for the victory.
Polsgrove and Watson each netted 10 points to lead the Vikings scoring assault, with nine points from Buchanan and eight points from Wotell.
AHS finished its regular-season schedule at Mitchell earlier this week, and returns to Mitchell next week for the Western Highlands Conference Basketball Tournament.