South Side Batesville’s trio of versatile forwards produced 52 points and made several big plays down the stretch as the Lady Southerners rallied in the last three minutes to escape with a 56-53 victory last Friday night in 2-4A Conference action at the Panther Den.

South Side Batesville’s trio of versatile forwards produced 52 points and made several big plays down the stretch as the Lady Southerners rallied in the last three minutes to escape with a 56-53 victory last Friday night in 2-4A Conference action at the Panther Den.

Forwards Kessie Jenkins, Ashton Ford and McKenzie King crashed the boards, played stifling defense and attacked the basket off the dribble while scoring all but four of the Lady Southerners’ points.

“We rebounded fairly well the first half, second half we didn’t,” said Heber Coach Jamey Riddle. “We got a little tired … We’ve had the sickness for a little bit and we are just not playing good basketball right now all the way around. Defense we are not moving our feet and offensively we are out of sync.

“We’ve got to get some things ironed out. We are a good team but we need to come out and prove it. Get back to fundamental basketball. We didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight. They gave us some opportunities to make some shots and we didn’t get that done.”

Tied at 47-all entering the fourth quarter, Heber took the lead on a jumper from right elbow by guard Madeline Spanel. Forward Hailey Crowder came up with a steal, drove the floor and scored over a defender to extend the lead, but King responded with a pair of free throws for Southside Batesville.

After guard Abigail Herring picked a steal, ran the floor and scored on a layup off an assist from Crowder, the Lady Southerners suddenly came alive, outscoring Heber 7-0 over the final 2:41.
Ford was fouled but had to leave the game due to injury. Guard Caylee McGuire came in to shoot free throws and made the first before missing the second, but Jenkins gained position for the offensive rebound and putback, leaving Heber ahead by one.

Ford re-entered the game and took over, first turning a steal into a driving layup, then following her own miss for a bucket while drawing a foul. Leading 56-53, Southside missed five free throws in the final 50 seconds but Heber failed to capitalize, coming up short on a three-pointer and committing a turnover.

“I thought Southside really played well,” said Riddle. “We are just in a little funk right now and we need to continue to work, try to get better and get through it.”

The Lady Panthers trailed 21-15 after the first quarter as Jenkins poured in 10 of her game-high 26 points in the first eight minutes, including a bank shot that appeared to be released after the horn.

Down 31-23 after a driving shot in traffic by King, Heber closed the first half with a 10-0 run.

Forward Alison Thomas sparked Heber with a putback and forward Makenzie Martin added a jumper from right elbow before Spanel nailed a three-pointer from left elbow and Herring popped a three-pointer from right corner in the closing seconds, giving the Lady Panthers a 33-31 advantage at halftime.

Heber slowly extended its lead early in the third quarter as Martin came up with a steal and layup, Thomas made two free throws and guard McKenzie Cresswell ripped a three-pointer from the top of the key.

Southside stayed within striking distance behind a three-point play from Ford and three-pointer from King, who launched the shot from left corner to cut Heber’s lead to 44-41 with a little over three minutes left in the third quarter.

Heber led 47-43 after a basket inside by Martin off an assist from guard Adrianna Simmons, but Ford and King each scored in the final two minutes and the Lady Panthers hit a drought, leaving the game tied heading to the final eight minutes of play.

Jenkins led Southside Batesville (7-5, 2-2) with 26 points. Ford added 15 and King scored 11. Kaitlyn Grambling made a three-pointer in the first quarter for the Lady Southerners and McGuire came off the bench to hit a free throw in the fourth quarter.

Thomas led Heber with 12 points, Martin followed with 11, Cresswell added 10, Spanel had nine, Herring finished with seven and Crowder had four for the Lady Panthers, who dropped to 7-3 and 3-1 in league play.

King guarded Martin all over the floor. “They did a good job on her,” said Riddle. Martin has been sick. She is still not 100 percent so she was getting wore down a little bit. They were covering Madeline up. She put out a lot of energy trying to get open, which allowed other people to step up and make a shot.

“We had our looks but we weren’t able to do it tonight. That’s the beauty of basketball, sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. Hopefully it will come back our way if we play hard and play like we are capable of playing,” added Riddle.