By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY
The Heber Springs Panthers trailed by 16 points early in the third quarter, but didn’t go away with a battle late in the fourth quarter against Clarksville.
Heber Springs rallied within five points, but the Panthers’ comeback bid came up short in the 68-51 loss to Clarksville in a 4-4A Conference basketball game at the Panther Den Tuesday.
“The players played well during the fourth quarter,” Heber Springs coach Dusty West said. “We made shots, played with more intensity and made it a two-possession game. We couldn’t get the defensive stop.”
Clarksville led by 16 points with five minutes left in the third quarter. Heber Springs stayed close and pulled to within 46-34 going into the fourth quarter.
The Panthers reduced Clarksville’s lead to single digits on Ryan Crocker’s 3-pointer 53-45 with six minutes left in the game. Two minutes later, Conner Riddle drove and scored as Heber Springs trailed 55-50 with 3:53 to go. Clarksville finished the game on a 13-1 scoring run.
Riddle led the Panthers with 22 points, followed by Crocker’s 16 points. Owen Ashlock scored a game-high 27 points for Clarksville. John Case, who hit three 3-pointers, had 16 points. Hunter Buss, who made four 3-pointers, added 12 points.
“The players still are giving great effort and doing good things,” West said. “We’re trying to get over that hump during the fourth quarter. Conner played well, along with Ryan during the fourth quarter. The team tends to play better when Ryan plays well. We need him to play with more confidence and get going for the entire game.”
Clarksville emerged from a low-scoring first quarter with an 11-5 lead. The Panthers fell behind by double digits during the second quarter, but they remain within range and trailed 26-14 at halftime.
Heber Springs played even during the third quarter and trailed 46-34 going into the fourth quarter.
Clarksville’s 3-point shooting proved to be too much for the Panthers to overcome.
“We knew they could shoot the threes,” West said. “No. 33 (Ashlock) worried us and we focused on containing him. Clarksville deserves credit for making the 3-point shots.”
Heber Springs (0-5 in conference, 1-15 overall) will play at Pottsville on Friday.
“We will be playing another good team,” West said. “The players still have a lot of fight left.”
Clarksville 11 15 20 22–68
Heber Springs 5 9 20 17–51
Clarksville scorers — Owen Ashlock 27, John Case 16, Hunter Buss 12, Ryan Clark 6, Cody Qualls 4, Abel Dean 3.
Heber Springs scorers — Conner Riddle 22, Ryan Crocker 16, Logan Monahan 8, J.T. Spears 3, Bauer Pruitt 2.