The Heber Springs Panthers and Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs battled to the wire Monday night in the opening round of the 4A-2 District Tournament held at Riverview, taking it all the way to overtime before CAC knocked down five of their last six free throws to survive and advance, ending the Panthers’ season despite a hard-fought game between the two teams.
Junior Brady Adkins and senior Kam Vick each provided six points for their teams in the first quarter, which saw CAC lead 15-11. Heber would find another gear in the second, however, as Adkins added another basket to his stat line and sophomore Adam Martin got in on the action with back-to-back triples to give the Panthers a 19-15 advantage. The lead exchanged once more after Davis Gatling got to the goal for two before sophomore Trenton Barnes finished off a layup to knot the game at 25-25.
Martin would drill another trifecta out of intermission, with the contest continuing to be nip and tuck after Adkins and Trevor Torres scored from down low and Gatling and Blake Smith turned in old-fashioned three-point plays to go with a steal and coast-to-coast finish for Justin Bates. Adkins and Ellis Henderson lined up and traded triples, with the score favoring CAC with eight minutes to play.
Martin got the gears turning for the Panthers with two consecutive jumpers and senior Jacob Bremmon clipping on a couple of layups, the second of which came after Martin passed ahead to Bremmon, who had a clear path to the basket. Clinging to a two-point lead, Torres committed a foul on Vick, who would knock down both free-throw attempts to tie the game once more, as Martin’s game-winning three-point try fell off the mark and sent the game into overtime.
Vick knocked down one of two charity stripe shots after CAC won the tipoff, but Bremmon powered through for a finish, leading to a travel call on the Mustangs to get the ball back. Following the empty possession for Heber, Vick would cut to the goal for a lay-in, netting three of four free-throws, to limit the Panthers’ options. Bremmon made it a one-possession affair as a result of splitting on a pair of foul shots, the second one bouncing out of bounds but not before touching the hand of a CAC player. With the ball and a chance to tie with 13.1 ticks remaining, Adkins would be found for a three, but it was no good as the Mustangs pulled down the rebound and Vick connected on his second free throw to give his team the walk-off victory.
Vick led CAC (8-19) with a game-high 21 points, with Gatling adding 17. Adkins totaled 18, as Martin chipped in with 13 and Bremmon closed out with 11. The Panthers finished with a record of 5-21. CAC advanced to play Southside Batesville tonight.