Beyond the Scoreboard: Cougars snap Avery’s 58-game winning streak

Mountain Heritage ended Avery County's 58-game conference winning streak Friday night with a 66-48 victory (WLOS Staff).JPG

(WLOS) – It’s been 1,792 days, nearly five years, since Avery County High lost a Western Highlands Conference game in boys basketball.

A run of 58 straight games, 51 in regular-season play and a 7-0 mark while winning the last four conference tournaments.

But Mountain Heritage put an end to that run Friday night – emphatically.

Using a suffocating man-to-man defense that stymied Avery scoring star Deacon Heath, the Cougars rolled to a 66-48 romp in front of a loud and enthusiastic home crowd.

Mountain Heritage (12-1, 4-0), ranked sixth in the state among 2A schools, jumped out to a big early lead and never let Avery cut the deficit under 10 points in the final three quarters.

Heath, a UNC Asheville commitment averaging 28 points a game, couldn’t shake the Cougars’ tight defense and finished with just half his average. His 14 points came on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor and six free throws for the Vikings (12-4, 3-1), ranked fourth in the state in the 1A class.

The program’s last loss to a WHC team was 61-46 to Hendersonville on Feb. 21, 2013 in the WHC tournament.

“Heath is such a great player, and we just shadowed him for four quarters,” said Cougars coach Hank Newson after his team won its 11th straight game.

“I’m really pleased with the way we shared the ball and took great shots. We’ve been on the doorstep of (breaking the streak), we lost in overtime to them in one game.

“My hats off to their program. It was a tremendous run and we feel blessed to be the team that beat them.”

“They did a great job and they were exactly who I thought they were,” said Avery coach Scott Grubb.

“They were aggressive and forced the tempo, getting us to play faster than we like to. They did an outstanding job of taking Deacon away, and that really affected us.”

“It was a great run thanks to a lot of great players. We’re thankful for that, and now it’s time to start a new one.”

Justus Shelton, a 6-10 sophomore, was strong around the basket and led Mountain Heritage with 18 points. Brandon Aumiller scored 10 of his 15 points in the third quarter for the Cougars.

A steal and dunk from Aumiller at the first-quarter buzzer gave the Cougars a 23-11 edge after one period.

Mountain Heritage stretched its lead to as much as 19 points in the second quarter as the cold-shooting Vikings managed just two field goals in eight minutes.

Evan Krug had a 3-pointer in the first minute of the period and a layup in the final minute to account for both Avery field goals in the quarter.

Heath was limited to 10 first-half points, making 3-of-5 shots from the floor.

The Cougars maintained a comfortable double-digit lead the entire second half.

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