The Van Buren Pointers finished what they started on Friday night.
The Pointers sprinted to a quick lead and senior Brayden Gilmore capped the night with a slam at the buzzer for a 63-50 win over Rogers Heritage at Clair Bates Arena.
Van Buren (9-14, 3-8) helped their state-tournament aspirations with their second Friday night home win in a row.
“Had to win, had to win, had to have it,” Van Buren head coach Brad Autry said. “Got it. I’m so proud of these guys.”
Van Buren controlled the first half behind a quick start by Avery Salisbury, who hit a 3-pointer 18 seconds into the game and then added all three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt.
Maury Newton added a driving bucket for an 8-0 lead by Van Buren with 4:59 left in the first quarter.
“That was huge,” Autry said. “Obviously, when you make shots everything seems to go a lot better. Our intent and our pace was really good, offensively and defensively.”
Van Buren increased its lead to 18-7 after a quarter with Salisbury ending the period with a four-point play, draining a 3-pointer and adding a free throw after being fouled on the shot.
Van Buren bumped its lead to 32-17 at the half, again ending the quarter with a flurry. Salisbury hit a free throw, and Gary Phillips added a driving layup followed by a jumper at the buzzer after grabbing a loose ball in the lane.
Van Buren was 12-of-21 shooting in the opening half.
“You earn the right to make shots,” Autry said. “I thought early we earned the right to make shots.”
Heritage made a third-quarter run, putting up 20 points and trimming Van Buren’s lead back to 43-37 after three quarters.
Gary Phillips, though, scored 16 of his 24 points in the last quarter and the Pointers answered with a 20-point quarter of their own.
With Heritage within, 51-44, with 2:49 left, Phillips scored successive breakaway buckets.
Gilmore added 15 points for the Pointers. Salisbury and Newton scored 11 each.
Logan Glenn led Heritage (9-14, 2-9) with 17 points. Logan Clines followed with 11.
ROGERS HERITAGE 57, VAN BUREN 49
GIRLS – A span of 72 seconds separated Heritage and Van Buren on Friday night.
Heritage (14-11, 6-5) trailed 42-40 after Van Buren’s Bailee Woodard drained a 3-pointer with 4:30 left but reeled off seven straight points to take the lead for good.
Aleyshka Pabon tied the game with a bucket inside for Heritage and, after a miss by Van Buren, Pam Seiler hit a 3-pointer. A turnover by Van Buren led to two free throws by Quiara Jones with 2:59 left as Heritage took a 47-42 lead.
Two free throws each by Emmalee Grebe and Lexi Miller had Van Buren within, 47-46, with 2:18 left, but Heritage answered again.
Pabon and Jones each hit two free throws on consecutive possessions to push Heritage back up, 51-46, with 1:08 left.
Heritage was 25-of-27 from the free-throw line in the game, including all 14 of its tries in the fourth quarter.
Pabon scored 22 points and Jones added 11. Seiler scored nine on a three 3-pointers.
The Lady Pointers (8-16, 2-9) were led by Grebe’s 12 points and Woodard’s 12. Brooklyn Kannady added nine.