For three-and-a-half quarters it appeared that Midlothian Heritage would run away with a bid to a second-consecutive 4A regional tournament. Burkburnett had other plans.
The Jaguars led 46-43 at the half before outpacing No. 23 Burkburnett 25-18 in the third quarter. Heritage then extended its lead to 12 points, 80-68, with about four minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
At that point, the nailbiting commenced.
Burkburnett closed the gap to one-point, 81-80, after piecing together a 14-3 run.
Enter Noah Parker.
The junior drew a foul shortly after a Heritage inbound and toed the charity stripe with six seconds remaining on the fourth-quarter clock.
He made both — his only two free throw attempts on a night when he scored nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field.
"That was awesome," said Midlothian Heritage head boys' basketball coach Andy Slye after the game.
The two free throws iced the game for No. 11 Midlothian Heritage, as the Jaguars held on for the regional quarterfinal win, 85-82, against Slye's alma mater.
"When we led by 15 or 16, I knew they were going to make a run at some point," Slye said. "That’s my old high school, and that’s my old coach, and I knew that is what was going to happen. They dug in there in the and made a little run there at the end. We had to withstand the run."
He added, "The game was unbelievable. It was a really good game for us. They are a really good basketball team and really well coached.”
Vincent Lee balled for the Jaguars. The senior big man finished with a 23-point, 13-rebound double-double, while Colin Valenta added 21 points to the win.
Sophomore Reggie Adams scored 12 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the floor, and Tristan Paschall finished with 11 points. Parker (9), Kevin Luke (4), Kaleb Neal (3), and Kerrion Fields (3) rounded out the Heritage offense.
The Jaguars shot 65 percent from the field (33-of-51) and committed 14 turnovers. Heritage struggled from the free throw line, finishing 15-of-27 (56 percent) from the stripe.
The win moved the Jaguars to 32-6 on the season.
Midlothian Heritage returns to the 4A Region I tournament for the second-consecutive year at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 10 (25-8) Seminole at the Rip Griffin Center on the campus of Lubbock Christian University.
The winner advances to the regional championship against the winner of No. 8 (25-5) Estacado and No. 9 32-3) Abilene Wylie at 1 p.m. Saturday. That winner will travel March 9-10 to San Antonio for the 4A state championship tournament.
Mike Sackett/Mirror contributed to this report.