On the road for the first time this season, the Panthers pounced all over eStem, utilizing pressure defense to race out to an early 20-0 lead.

On the road for the first time this season, the Panthers pounced all over eStem, utilizing pressure defense to race out to an early 20-0 lead.

Heber Springs maintained its 20-point lead until the fourth quarter, when the Mets whittled away at their deficit as the Panthers emptied their bench while cruising to a 63-50 victory on Tuesday at the Nutt Complex.

"No doubt that was probably our best performance of the year so far," said Heber Coach Kevin Kyzer. "They pressured up on us with man-to-man and we did a good job. We were able to run anything we wanted to run set-wise or just run our basic motion.

"There are some things we could do better. We missed some back doors that were open. The seniors played really well. They don't give up any offensive rebounds and really didn't turn the ball over and if they continue to grow by January this ought to be a pretty good team," added Kyzer.

Versatile senior forward Mason Schroeder was nearly unstoppable, pumping in 23 points in the first half while blocking four shots and pulling down 11 rebounds.

Despite limited playing time during the second half, Schroeder finished with a game-high 25 points and 15 rebounds, hitting 10 of 12 free throws, 7 of 11 shots from the field ¬ including 2 of 3 from three-point range. "Obviously Mason was dominating in the first half," said Kyzer.

Senior guard Austin "Red" Adkins, who finished 4 of 6 from three-point range, drilled a deep three from right wing on the Panthers' opening possession. Adkins then picked a steal, which led to a free throw by Schroeder, who added two more from the line only 26 seconds later.

With Heber leading 6-0, point guard Waren Thomas Olmstead snared an offensive rebound and scored in traffic then Olmstead added a breakaway layup as the Panthers used suffocating defense to force difficult shots, create turnovers and run the floor.

Olmstead found Schroeder filling the lane on a fast break for a layup and Olmstead stole the inbound pass and dropped a floater as the Panthers' lead grew to 14-0.

Schroeder followed with six straight, including an 18-foot jumper up top and a steal, which he turned into an old-fashioned three-point play.

The Mets finally got on the scoreboard near the two-minute mark of the first quarter when guard Dewayne Jones sank a three-pointer from right corner.

Olmstead used his length and athletic ability to cause havoc throughout the game.

"Waren Olmstead did a great job of running the team," said Kyzer. "He looked like a true point guard. He distributed the ball well, took care of the basketball. He drove it, slashed and kept the ball low to the floor. He is hard to pressure up on because he is more athletic than you think he is. He was able to get by some people."

Olmstead finished with nine points, six assists and four steals.
Leading by 16, the Panthers closed out the first period with three straight, taking a 23-4 lead when Olmstead swiped a steal and hit Adkins for a layup.

Heber outscored eStem 20-16 in the second quarter behind 12 points from Schroeder, who ripped a pair of three-point shots in the span.
Adkins, who was trailing on a fast break, nailed a three-pointer off an assist from Olmstead as Heber took a 28-9 lead before the Mets used a 9-2 run to pull within 12.

Following a Panther timeout, forward Michael Kramer slashed down left baseline for a layup and Schroeder popped a three-pointer out front off an assist from Olmstead.

Leading by 15, the Panthers closed out the first half with an 8-0 run sparked by Schroeder, who buried a three-pointer up top. After Schroeder added a pair of free throws, Kramer knocked down a three-pointer from left wing at the buzzer, increasing Heber's lead to 43-20 at halftime.

With the game getting rough and Heber holding a comfortable lead, Kyzer rotated in each player on the Panthers' 10-man roster during the second half. The Mets outscored Heber 30-20 in the final 16 minutes behind 12 points from Jones, a physical guard.

"I thought the referees let the play go in the second half and I actually like that because we have future road games at places like Marianna and Stuttgart where it's going to be real physical," said Kyzer.

"We played the sophomores extensively in the second half with maybe one senior out there with them. It was good to see them handle that pressure with the physicality of play going on in the second half. Early in the year we want to win but our main objective is to be peaking at the right time and develop our younger guys where they are ready to go in January and February," added Kyzer.

A charter school located in downtown Little Rock, eStem enters the 2-4A Conference next season as a basketball only member.

Jones led eStem (1-4) with 18 points and Dyllon Mitchell added 10.

Schroeder paced Heber (2-1) with 25 points, Adkins followed with 18, Olmstead added nine and Kramer had seven. Senior forward Spencer Grogan and sophomore forward Hunter Chandler also contributed a bucket for the Panthers.