Heber Springs drilled 11 three-pointers, including four by shooting guard Judson Smith and three each from point guard Austin “Red” Adkins and forward Michael Kramer, propelling the Panthers to a 55-47 victory over Newport on Tuesday in 2-4A Conference play at the Panther Den.
“We did a pretty good job of denying penetration defensively and closing out on shooters,” said Panther Coach Kevin Kyzer. “We didn't have a ton of turnovers but the ones we had went for layups so we've got to shore that up. We did a good job of keeping them from scoring in their half-court offense.
“We ran our offense well at times and we didn't at times. The good side is we scored 55 without really doing a good job of executing on offense,” added Kyzer.
The Panthers jumped out to an 11-9 lead after one period of play as Adkins, Smith and Kramer each drained a three-pointer, while forward Aaron Brown scored from right block off an assist from Smith.
Newport guard Kristen Crite helped the Greyhounds stay close with seven points in the first quarter and guard Marcus Neal added a fall away jumper from the foul line, slicing Heber's lead to a basket heading to the second quarter.
Holding a 15-13 lead, the Panthers gained some breathing room in the second quarter, starting when Smith ripped a three-pointer from right wing off an assist by Brown. Following a stick back from Newport center Asante Shell, Smith struck again, this time with a deep three-pointer from right wing.
Crite fired back with an 18-foot jump shot from right wing before the Panthers responded with four straight as Smith scored inside off an assist from Brown, then Kramer canned a pair of free throws.
Trailing 25-17, the Greyhounds suddenly pulled within four on a steal and layup by Neal and jumper from forward Charles Malone, but Heber closed the first half with a 7-0 run, sparked by Kramer, who drilled a three-pointer from left wing off an assist from Adkins.
Kramer then split two defenders with a smooth spin move and scored in traffic and Smith stole the ensuing inbound pass and scored just before the buzzer, giving the Panthers a 32-21 lead at halftime.
Crite poured in seven quick points in the third quarter as the Greyhounds sliced their deficit to single digits but Smith buried a three-pointer from right wing and Adkins scored off a backdoor cut and assist from Kramer.
After Newport forward Robert Robinson scored in the paint, Heber finished the third quarter with a 7-0 run, ignited by Adkins, who popped a deep three-pointer in the face of a Greyhound defender.
Heber center Mason Schroeder, who has only played in three games after suffering a preseason injury, stepped out and drained a three-pointer off an assist from Kramer, extending the Panthers' lead to 47-30 at the end of three quarters.
Page 2 of 2 - Newport outscored Heber 17-8 in the fourth quarter as Crite tallied 12 points, guard Lorenzo Ollison added a three-pointer and Shell hit two free throws, while Heber struggled to put the game away.
With just under two minutes remaining, the Greyhounds pulled within four when guard Marquelle Killingsworth stripped a steal and hit Crite for a layup, but Adkins responded with a strong drive for a layup.
Kramer secured a defensive rebound and hit two free throws to ice the Panthers' 55-47 victory.
Crite scored a game-high 30 points for Newport (5-4, 3-2), while Neal and Shell each added four points.
Smith and Kramer each scored 16 points to lead Heber (10-4, 4-1), Adkins followed with 13, Brown contributed six, including four free throws in the fourth quarter, and Schroeder chipped in four.
The Panthers visit Lonoke tonight for the first game of a three-game road swing. “It's always tough. We hit this stretch every other year where we play six of seven conference games on the road,” said Kyzer. “We have been a good road team the last few years and hopefully we will continue that. We only lost one road game in conference last year and none the year before so we pride ourselves on going on the road.
“We are no longer a team that can sneak up on anybody. We've won conference the last two years so we know teams are going to be ready to give us their A game so we've got to step it up every night,” added Kyzer.