After playing host to the Heber Springs Holiday Classic last week, the Panther basketball teams eased back into their regular season schedule on Tuesday, sweeping the Newport Greyhounds in three games at home. The Heber Springs boys used a second-half run to beat the Greyhounds 58-51, the Lady Panthers routed Newport, 64-37, and the Junior Panther boys completed an unlikely comeback, winning 36-33.
After a back-and-forth first half, Heber Springs (6-9) used a 10-0 third-quarter run and sharp shooting from its seniors to take a 58-51 win over the Newport Greyhounds (1-8) on Tuesday.
“I thought it was a really solid team win,” said Heber Springs head coach Jay Moore. “We had a lot of guys step up and shoot the ball really well. We had some foul trouble early with Jaden [Johnson], and that was a really concerning deal with all the size and athleticism they had rebounding. That was definitely their strength.”
The Panthers were able to mitigate the Greyhounds' size with solid shooting at the perimeter. Heber Springs knocked down 11 3-pointers en route to Tuesday's win, including five from senior Slade Welch, four from senior Jordan Adkins, and two from sophomore Brandon Blankenship.
Welch assisted Adkins on two 3-pointers in the first quarter, then hit one of his own to close out the opening eight minutes with the score tied at 15.
Adkins opened the second quarter with his third 3-pointer of the evening before splitting at the line and assisting Welch on an open three before halftime, tying the score at 25 at the break.
Trailing by five early in the second quarter, the Panthers used a 10-0 stretch to turn the tables on the Greyhounds. Welch opened the run with his second 3-pointer of the half, junior Jaden Johnson hit two for two from the line, Adkins connected from just inside the arc, and Welch hit again from downtown to take the score to 38-33.
Welch finished with a game-high 24 points, including three 3-pointers and two free throws for 11 points in the third quarter.
“He's got a green light. He can hit six or eight on you at anytime, and we needed them tonight,” said Moore.
Blankenship knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to close out the third quarter with the Panthers leading, 44-39, and the sophomore hit again from three to open the fourth, stretching the Heber Springs lead to eight. Adkins hit a midrange jumper on the baseline and connected for a corner 3-pointer, his fourth of the night, to close out the Panthers' win, 58-51.
Adkins finished with 17 points, and Blankenship added 10 points for Heber Springs.
Larell Hardiman and Larry Nicholson led Newport with 14 points each.
After closing out the first quarter tied at 11, the Lady Panthers exploded offensively in the second period, pouring in 28 points on the way to a 64-37 win over Newport on Tuesday.
“We finally had a burst of energy there more than anything, I guess,” said Heber Springs head coach Jamey Riddle. “We picked it up defensively. We let them get some offensive rebounds there in the first quarter and they kind of scored off that. It was a typical first game back from Christmas . It wasn't the prettiest game in the world, but we did what we needed to get the win.”
Heber Springs opened the second quarter on a 20-2 run to take full control of the game. Junior post player Lana Milton and senior guard Hannah Thomas led the charge for the Lady Panthers. Milton controlled the paint and scored 11 of her game-high 22 points in the quarter, and Thomas added nine of her 15 points as Heber Springs led 39-21 at the break.
“Everybody was kind of struggling with the outside shooting tonight, so we worked off Lana and let her take control of the game and hopefully let our defense get some steals, and that's where everybody else kind of kicked it in,” said Riddle.
The Panthers' pace slowed considerably in the third quarter, scoring only nine points but maintaining a 14-point advantage heading into the fourth, 48-34.
The score remained the same three minutes into the final quarter as both schools struggled to score.
The Lady Panthers ended the scoring drought and began a 16-0 run when Milton hit Thomas with a nice outlet on the fast break. Milton then hit a pair of free throws, Thomas scored again on a pull-up midrange shot in transition, and sophomore Hailey Vaughn hit consecutive jumpers, the first a 3-pointer, as Heber Springs closed out another dominating win, 64-37.
Vaughn scored 19 points for the Lady Panthers.
“She needs that confidence to know that she can score,” said Riddle. “I'm excited about her and seeing her progression as we keep going.
The Junior Panthers overcame a nine-point deficit with just under three minutes remaining to stun the Greyhounds, 36-33, on Tuesday
Newport took a 20-13 lead into halftime before Colin Parson knocked down two 3-pointers and Trent Barnes scored on an offensive rebound tip-in to cut the Newport advantage to four, 28-24, headed into the fourth quarter.
The Panthers' shots weren't falling early in the final quarter, and the Junior Greyhounds stretched their advantage to nine points before Heber Springs head coach called a timeout with 2:40 remaining in the game.
Out of the timeout, freshman Adam Martin hit a baseline 3-pointer off the inbound to cut the lead to six. Martin scored again on a fast-break runner with two minutes left, then hit a baseline 3-pointer in front of the Panther bench to put Heber Springs within one, 32-33, with 1:36 remaining.
Heber Springs regained possession after picking up a charging call at the other end, and Martin drove to the basket looking to give the Panthers' the lead but his contested layup was no good. Heber Springs came away with an offensive rebound and Martin got another look low but couldn't get it to go, and Newport took possession up by one with 24 seconds left.
Newport would get three chances at the free throw line but couldn't convert on any, and the Panthers regained the ball with 20 seconds left. Martin was fouled in the bonus and knocked down both free throws to give Heber Springs its first lead of the game, 34-33, with 12 seconds remaining.
Parson stole an errant Newport pass off the inbound and hit Tri Johnson cutting to the basket. Johnson was fouled and hit both free throws, and the Junior Greyhounds missed a last-second desperation 3-pointer as the Panthers closed out the comeback, 36-33.
Martin led the Panthers with 16 points, including a personal 10-point run in the fourth quarter to give Heber Springs the lead. Parson added 13 points for the Junior Panthers.
Heber Springs will play next today at Riverview, beginning with the junior high games at 4 p.m. The Panthers will move on to host Rose Bud at 5 p.m. at the Panther Den next Tuesday.