First-year head coach Sam Onwuchekwa has already learned volumes about his basketball team, with Heritage Christian Academy maintaining perfection nine games into the district season.

It’s safe to say he learned a lot more Friday night, watching his team battle back from a 37-14 halftime deficit to Gulf Coast Trades Center, only to lose 66-60 in double overtime.

With the score deadlocked at 47 at the end of regulation, both teams went shot-for-shot through two bonus periods. GCTC’s Robert Wolbright and Carlos Guillory proved to be the difference as they combined for seven of the team’s final nine points, handing the Eagles a heartbreaking loss in the nightcap of Friday’s homecoming doubleheader.

HCA could not get a shot to fall in the first half, but came out of the locker room firing, outscoring GCTC 26-8 midway through the second half to climb back into the game.

“I told the team that I appreciated their effort,” Onwuchekwa said. “We came out at halftime and gave this crowd something to be proud of. I always tell the kids that all I want is what you got and they gave that to me tonight. We came out a little too excited with homecoming and everything. If we were to harness our energy a little bit early it would have been a different story.”

Rayce Carter led the charge for the Eagles in points with 31, while Marquis Sherwood was cast in a supporting role with 11. The Eagles had a great night underneath the basket, outrebounding GCTC 40-29; but they committed 21 turnovers.

“We have a young team that is gaining experience and tonight they showed me they are in it to win it,” Onwuchekwa said. “When we get some players back from injury and combine that with the improvement we have made so far this season, it’s going to be tough to stop us.”

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