CONYERS — Richmond Hill threw a wrench in Heritage's playoff plans Friday night.
A 6-foot-1 wrench by the name of Jaxson Douglas.
Richmond Hill matched Douglas on Heritage's star player Sade Harrell for most of the night, flummoxing the Patriots' potent offense on the way to a 40-38 upset in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs at Heritage High School.
It was just the third time all season Heritage was held under 40 points.
"We didn't play our best, in all phases of the game," Heritage girls basketball coach Eric Spivey said. "Field goal percentage was low, our defense was not very good; our rebounding, we didn't box out. It was down to the fundamentals, and we just didn't perform up to par."
Harrell finished with a game-high 16 points, though 14 came after a sluggish first quarter that saw Richmond Hill put the clamps on Heritage, allowing just four points.
Heritage (17-8) commanded much of the game after the opening frame, however, leading by as many as 10 points midway through the third quarter.
But back-to-back 3-pointers by Douglas cut Heritage's lead to 27-23, then Kirra Perry's jumper with 6:08 left in the fourth tied the game for the first time since the end of the first quarter.
Harrell hit a clutch shot on Heritage's ensuing possession to put the Patriots back on top, but four minutes later Richmond Hill grabbed the lead after a Danika Boyd layup.
"As a team, we've got to do it together," Spivey said. "Yeah, (Harrell) got it done for us in the second and third quarter, and the fourth quarter and kept us afloat, but overall we just didn't perform like we should have as a team."
Harrell fouled out with 1:33 remaining with Heritage down 38-35.
After trading free throws, Heritage senior Tamira Anderson grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup the brought the Patriots within one point.
Anderson, along with sophomore Kristyn Goshay, forced a Richmond Hill turnover with 41 seconds left, but junior Jayla Jeffries couldn't convert the layup, which Richmond Hill corralled.
Heritage sent Richmond Hill senior Nalexia Vann to the line with 9.2 seconds left, with Vann hitting one of two. Freshman Zoraya Thornton grabbed the rebound on the missed shot but missed both free throws after Heritage fouled.
With the score 40-38 and 7.4 seconds remaining, Heritage senior Treina Shanks rebounded the ball but immediately had it stolen by Vann, who dribbled out the clock.
Jeffries turned in a gutsy performance for the Patriots.
After injuring her leg with three minutes left in the second quarter, Jeffries returned after halftime only to leave again in the third quarter, this time being carried off by an assistant coach.
Jeffries came back in the fourth quarter and provided lock-down defense for Heritage.
"She brought a lot of fight for us," Spivey said. "All year long she's been very tough, as far as playing man-to-man defense on point guards for us and doing a good job. She tried to fight through it and she gave it her all, but it just wasn't enough for us."
Richmond Hill (19-10) will face the winner of Lee County and Forest Park in the second round of the playoffs.