The Class 4A No. 4 ranked Heber Springs Lady Panthers clinched their third 2-4A Conference championship in as many seasons with a 75-27 drubbing of Marianna-Lee on Tuesday night in 2-4A Conference action at the Panther Den.
Heber led 15-0 five minutes into the game and never let up, pushing its lead to 41-12 by halftime and 64-22 after three quarters of play.
Forward Makenzie Martin got the Lady Panthers started with a bucket in the paint off an assist from guard Skylar Johnson then guard Hannah Johnson buried a three-pointer from right corner.
Guard Devrie Attendorn followed with a three-pointer from left elbow and Skylar Johnson scored two buckets in transition sandwiched around a three-pointer by twin sister Hannah Johnson.
At the 2:04 mark in the first quarter, the Lady Trojans got on the scoreboard when forward Brittany Wade turned an offensive rebound into a free throw.
Lady Panthers' Coach Jamey Riddle said his team came out ready to secure another crown. “We didn't play very well when we went over there and I think they wanted to come and prove a point. Marianna is a team that won't usually play as hard on the road so we kind of fed of that negative energy from them and played hard.
“I feel like we just wanted to play tonight, ran everything well and I thought our defense was a lot better. We made some shots tonight, came out ready to play and did a good job,” added Riddle.
Hard work, strenuous off-season conditioning and precise execution are all parts of the formula that makes the Heber program successful.
“It's fun, I am not going to lie,” said Riddle with a smile. “It's fun being around good girls that are committed and just work hard. They are committed and don't mind putting the time in.
“I do demand a lot of time and commitment from them and they don't waver one bit. We will go all summer long and it's a long preseason but it feels good and I am really proud for the girls. Hopefully they will look back on it someday and see what they did and be proud of it. It's something they can tell their kids someday. I am just really proud of them,” added Riddle.
Already holding a commanding 17-3 lead entering the second quarter, six different players notched at least one point in the period as the Lady Panthers outscored Marianna 24-9, led by eight points from Skylar Johnson, five from Hannah Johnson and four apiece from Martin and guard Skye Miller,
Leading 41-12 heading into the third quarter, Heber continued to pour it on, outscoring the Lady Trojans 23-10 over the next eight minutes as Attendorn had six points, while post player Janae Long and Hannah Johnson each scored five points.
Page 2 of 2 - Heber forward Mary Simmons sank a jumper from right elbow late in the third quarter, then guard McKenzie Cresswell buried a three-pointer up top off an assist from Miller, giving the Lady Panthers a 64-22 lead going into the final frame, which would be played under the mercy-rule with the clock running continuously.
Simmons added two more buckets in the fourth quarter, while Miller and post player Mary Lawrence each contributed a basket and guard Courtney Reed ripped a three-pointer from right corner off an assist from Simmons, setting the final at 75-27.
Wade led Marianna (3-10 in 2-4A) with 16 points and guard Monica Young chipped in five. Hannah Johnson paced the Lady Panthers (21-3, 12-1) with 16 points, Skylar Johnson followed with 14, Attendorn had 11, Long added seven, while Martin, Miller and Simmons each finished with six.