December 27, 2019
BY LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY
Wyatt Sanders’ 3-pointer pulled the Heber Springs Panthers within one point with less than five minutes left, but Batesville answered with an 18-7 scoring run and pulled away to a 72-60 win in the consolation bracket of the Steve Landers Cowboy Chevolet-Heber Springs Holiday Basketball Classic Friday.
Batesville led 17-7 after the first quarter. The Panthers closed the gap to 31-25 by halftime and 49-46 going into the fourth quarter.
“We responded well from the overtime loss to Rose Bud (Thursday),” Heber Springs coach Chad Johnson said. “The players are working hard to improve their skills. Our scoring is beginning to improve with 60-plus points in back-to-back games, instead of scoring 30 or 40 points.”
Martin led the Panthers with 21 points. Wyatt Sanders, who made four 3-pointers, scored 14 points and Garrett Hudspeth had 13 points.
“We need more than just Adam contributing in scoring,” Johnson said. “Hudspeth made 9-of-10 free throws and scored two field goals against Batesville. Sanders shot the three well in the second half. We need that type of scoring to become more competitive in future games.”
Johnson said the defensive game plan centered on containing guard Caleb Anderson (12 points) and post J.P. Morgan (26 points).
“Anderson is an excellent 3-point shooter,”Johnson said. “Adam did an excellent job of containing him. The other part of the plan was Morgan. We tried and double down on him. He got most of his points on second-chance opportunities.”
Heber Springs (1-10) will conclude the tournament against Mayflower at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.
“Mayflower is our next challenge,” Johnson said. “They have good guard play and a dominating center. It will be another challenge because of the difference in height.”
After the tournament, Heber Springs will not play for more than one week. Johnson said next week will be important before resuming conference play.
“We are moving in a positive way despite our season record,” Johnson said. “Hudspeth is gaining more confidence inside. Wyatt is becoming more confidence in shooting the three. We need that, along with the remainder of the team gaining confidence. That will lead to success.”