2019-20 Year-In-Review: Top 20 Heritage Athletics Moments, #1-5

With a later than expected start to the 2020-2021 athletic year, we finish taking a look back at the top 20 moments from 2019-2020, in four different parts. This is the final part of our series, and counts down the top five moments.

  1. Boys basketball comes back against Liberty

A fast start and a strong finish had the Heritage side of the gymnasium at Liberty going crazy in the Bay Valley Athletic League opener for both schools, but it was a game-long effort by the Patriots' defense which kept them within striking distance, eventually leaving with a 59-51 victory over the Lions.

The Patriots led 12-5 after one quarter, but Liberty was not about to go quietly on its home court. The Lions outscored Heritage 24-10 over the next eight minutes to take a 29-22 lead at the half.  Liberty then pushed its lead into double digits, leading by as many as 13 points and holding a 42-32 advantage headed to the fourth.

The fourth quarter, however, belonged to Heritage senior Sebastian Duran and the Patriots' defense. Heritage outscored Liberty 27-9 in the final quarter, with Duran exploding for 18 of his game-high 27 points in the final eight minutes, including a pair of three-pointers and 10 made free throws. A late technical foul resulted in four straight free throw attempts for Duran, and he made all four in the final minute to seal the victory, seconds after his three from the right wing had extended the lead to four points.

Liberty's final lead in the game came in the final two minutes, when the Lions led 49-48. Lamar Murphy, however, drained a pair of free throws to give the Patriots a 50-49 lead, before Duran's big three with 49 seconds left in the game.

  1. Girls basketball takes down state-ranked Lynwood

Lynwood from Southern California entered this Saturday evening contest as a huge favorite against the Patriots, ranked in the top 20 of the state and playing on a neutral court at St. Mary’s in Stockton.  But Heritage set the tone early, and a drive-and-dish from Julie Ramirez to Abby Muse gave the Patriots a 20-point lead midway through the second quarter, en route to the big 55-48 victory at the MLK Showcase.

The Knights closed the gap back to 13 points at the half, and actually got within five points after three quarters, but Heritage was stingy on defense in the fourth quarter, especially after a loose ball rebound and putback by Muse midway through the fourth quarter gave the Patriots a nine-point lead in a game which only featured two points in the final three minutes of play.

Muse finished the game with 19 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks, while Ramirez added 11 points and five assists.  Freshman Amanda Muse had 11 points and seven rebounds while senior Bella Fabricante chipped in nine points.

You can relive the game on NorCal Sports TV here on YouTube.

  1. Boys basketball pulls biggest NCS first-round upset

All year, Heritage had stayed in games largely on the strength of its defense. In the opening round of the North Coast Section Division I boys basketball playoffs at Clayton Valley, the Patriots again relied early on their defense, but it was an offensive awakening in the second half which propelled them to a 56-52 upset victory over the third-seeded Eagles, in a rematch of the section title game two years earlier.

After losing at home to Pittsburg a week earlier, the Patriots were largely written off as a playoff contender, needing a win over league champion Deer Valley in the regular season finale to even qualify for the field. They got that win on a steal and lay-up in the final three seconds, and then improbably knocked off Clayton Valley for the biggest upset of Tuesday’s first-round action.

The Patriots fell behind early to Clayton Valley, trailing 15-9 after one quarter and 23-18 at the half. But Heritage went on a 10-0 run to start the third quarter to take a five-point lead, as senior Sebastian Duran and junior Isaiah Hinds began to heat up. Hinds scored six of his 12 points in the quarter, while Duran drilled a pair of three-pointers and scored eight of his 15 points after being held scoreless in the first half.

Clayton Valley (19-8) responded, however, going on a 14-4 run of its own to take a 37-32 lead, before the Patriots scored the final four points of the quarter to trail by a single point headed to the fourth.

Heritage went on another quick run to start the final quarter, outscoring the Eagles 11-3 in the first two minutes of the fourth before Clayton Valley cut the lead back to one at 48-47 with four minutes remaining in the game. The Patriots pushed to lead to 54-49 with 54 seconds left before the Eagles again cut the lead to three points.

Lamar Murphy iced the game with a pair of free throws with under a second remaining, to send Heritage back to the quarterfinals for the first time since winning the Division I title two seasons ago. Murphy finished with a game-high 16 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.

  1. Wrestling beats Liberty for first time ever

For the first time in school history, the Heritage wrestling team earned a dual meet victory over Liberty, a longtime section and league powerhouse in the sport.  The Patriots clinched a 40-36 victory over the Lions when sophomore Hunter Holguin earned a major decision victory in the 111-pound weight class, giving Heritage an insurmountable lead at that point.

One of the key victories for the Patriots was obtained by junior Joseph Hurtado, who trailed in the third round of his match before reversing his opponent and finishing his match with a pin.  Heritage led 18-12 going into Hurtado’s match, and it appeared as if the Lions were going to cut the lead to three points, but instead his pin gave the Patriots a 24-12 advantage, and they built upon that when Alex Peterson earned a win by forfeit and Sebastian Davis pinned his opponent in the 285-pound weight class for a 36-18 lead.

Ronald Jackson and Caleb Waller also won by pin earlier in the match, while senior Harrison Garcia notched a big victory early.

The win over the Lions proved to be pivotal later in the year, when Heritage finished 4-1 in BVAL dual matches, ending the regular season in second place behind Freedom and qualifying for the NCS Dual Team Championships for the first time in five years.

  1. Girls cross country surges to BVAL championship

The most dramatic league championship this past school year no doubt came courtesy of the Heritage girls’ cross country team, which needed to finish in first place at the BVAL Championships at Contra Loma in order to claim a league title, having finished second behind Liberty in the dual meet portion of the season.

When sophomore Lauren Lane became the fourth Heritage runner to finish in the top ten of the championship race, the win became likely, and became a reality when Chloe Zimmerman finished just outside the top 20, enabling the Patriots to hold off the Lions by a score of 42-47 and claim the league championship.

Senior Sarah Smith led the way for the Patriots, placing third in the league in her only season on the outdoor trails.  After that, it was a trio of underclassmen for Heritage, as Sabrina Rogers, Renny Buchanan and Lane finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, all of them earning first-team all-league honors.  The end result was the first league title on the girls side for Heritage since 2012.