HSHS All-Decade Team: 1950s

The 1950s era of Heber Springs football saw some success in the early part of the decade, some struggles in the middle part of the decade and a rebirth with a familiar face in the latter part of the decade as players still played both ways.

New coach Leland Myers guided the Panthers to one of the best marks in school history in 1950 with a 6-2-1 record. Heber Springs opened the season with a loss to Augusta but won six straight with wins over Clinton, Bald Knob, Ola, Cotton Plant, Arkansas School for the Deaf and Sloan-Hendrix. The tie came on Nov. 24 over a heavily-favored Morrilton squad. A loss to McCrory on Thanksgiving closed out the season.

The Panthers would win five games in 1951, the best two-year stretch in school history up that point, with wins over Mountain Home, Harding Academy, Hickory Ridge, Arkansas School for the Deaf and Clinton.

Former Heber Springs Panther standout Robert Fisher would take over as coach in 1952 guiding the Panthers to their first conference title in school history with a 5-3-1 mark — it would be 23 years before Heber Springs would win another conference title. The Panthers defeated Augusta, Harding Academy and Cotton Plant to earn the conference crown and also picked up victories over Mountain Home and Hickory Ridge. On Nov. 21, the Panthers traveled to Earle for a Class B playoff game (with only eight teams in the playoffs at the time). Heber Springs had two weeks off before the game while the Bulldogs had beaten county-rival West Memphis a week earlier and handed the Panthers a 25-6 setback. A Thanksgiving Day loss five-days later to McCrory set the final mark.

A new coach took over the reigns of the Panther program in 1953. Bernis Duke would go on to hall of fame career winning a state basketball title at Newport and later coaching the Oral Roberts University (in Tulsa, Okla.) tennis team for 33 years. Duke was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2002 and the ORU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010 — the tennis center on the ORU campus is named in his honor, but at Heber Springs his only attempt at coaching football resulted in a one-win campaign in 1953 (a win over the “B” team from Conway).

The 1954 squad had the same fate as the 1953 squad, a single win over the “B” team from Conway. The assistant coach for that squad, Elmer Gathright, would also have building named after him, the basketball gymnasium at West Side High School in Greers Ferry.

In 1955 and 1956, another future Hall-of-Famer took over the reigns of the football program as Bald Knob High School graduate Carl Steward would guide the program to a 4-14 mark (a pair of wins over Bradford, a win over Conway “B” and Clinton). Steward would later make his mark as a track coach and a track official.

The decade closed with another HSHS graduate, Cecil Alexander, guiding the program for three season. Alexander, who had starred on the gridiron at Hendrix College after graduating from HSHS, would guide the program for the rest of the decade going 9-12-4. His first squad in 1957 defeated Harding Academy, Bradford and “B” teams from Batesville and Jacksonville to finish 4-4. In 1958, the Panthers would go 3-3-3 with wins over Newport “B”, Augusta and Sylvan Hills and ties with Carlisle, Mabelvale and Conway “B”. His 1959 squad would beat Clinton and Harding Academy and tie Danville.

The 1950s HSHS All-Decade Football Team

(Position, Player and Last Season Played)

End – Pete Benbrook (1950)

End – Sherlon Martin (1959)

Line – Elwood Cooper (1952)

Line – Roy Ferguson (1953)

Line – Dale Ramsey (1951)

Line – Richard Stark (1951)

Line – Tommy Whitaker (1952)

Back – Cecil Alexander (1952)

Back – Mickey Barnett (1951)

Back – Jimmy Davis (1952)

Back – Victor Davis (1959)

Back – Jerry Pilkington (1950)

Back – Keith Pilkington (1957)

All-Purpose – Lovell Davis (1953)

All-Purpose – Jim Alexander (1958)


The 1940s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1930s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1910s/20s HSHS All-Decade Team

Quitman continues five-year run of dominance

Quitman senior Lanny Goff celebrates in the first half of the 2A state semifinal game on Saturday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

March 11, 2020


To say the Quitman girls basketball program is experiencing a run of success would be an understatement. 

Over the past five seasons, Quitman has won an eye-popping 88.8 percent of the games it has played. The Bulldogs have a record of 155-20 over that stretch, an average of 31 wins per season. 

They have also have a record of 61-2 in conference play over that stretch, and won five district and five regional championships. On the biggest stage, the state tournament, Quitman is 12-3 in the state tournament with a state title in 2017 and a runner-up finish in 2018.

The track team has also won a state championship in 2017, the cross country team has state titles in three consecutive seasons while the softball team is coming off back-to-back state titles.

“Six-years ago Quitman wasn’t even on the map as an athletic school,” Quitman coach Tim Hooten said. “Right now I think we are really making huge strides. 

“In cross country, we have won three championships in the past three years. We are going back to the finals and hopefully be in the position to bring home another basketball, but Melbourne will have a lot to say about that.” 

Hooten says that the championships build off each other.

“Our girls program is at the top level right now,” Hooten said.

EARLE: Quitman has faced Earle in the state tournament the past four seasons with the teams splitting four games. Last season, Earle ended Quitman’s season last year with a 70-58 setback in the 2A quarterfinals at Carlisle  and prevented the Bulldogs from repeating as state champions in 2018 with a 48-43 decision in the finals.  

Quitman coach Tim Hooten

Quitman defeated Earle, 49-44, in the semifinals on its way to claiming the 2017 state title while the Bulldogs punched their ticket to the finals this season with a 40-28 win on Saturday. Both of those wins came at Quitman.

“We knocked them out when we won it,” Hooten said on Saturday. “They got us the last two years. We had a lot to prove here to get back at them. We really wanted to redeem ourselves because we played horrible last year. We didn’t get shots we should have. Our defense was not as good as it was tonight. To hold Earle to 28 points, that’s a defensie accomplishment.”

RUBBER MATCH: Melbourne handed Quitman its first loss of the season back on November 21 with a 59-43 decision at the First Service Bank Classic in Clinton. Quitman would defeat the host in the third-place game while Melbourne would go on to beat 6A Springdale Har-Ber for the tournament title. “I think we are a totally different team now,” Hooten said.

PATH TO THE TITLE GAME: Quitman defeated Hector (84-45), Marmaduke (71-37) and Earle (40-28) in the semifinals while Melbourne downed Fordyce (67-27), Bigelow (54-38) and Des Arc (68-54) to punch its ticket to Hot Springs.

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TICKETS: Fans may purchase tickets for the Class 2A girls’ state basketball tournament until 1 p.m. Thursday at Quitman High School. Quitman will play defending state champion Melbourne at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Hot Springs Convention Center. Cost is $8. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

COMMUNITY PEP RALLY/SEND-OFF:  A community pep rally will start at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in the old gym. The team will leave for Hot Springs around 3:15, according to the school’s Facebook page They will start at First Baptist Church and make their way through town around 3:15 p.m.

VIDEO: Final seconds and buzzer celebration

Quitman advances to 2A state title game

The Quitman Lady Bulldogs defeated Earle on Saturday, 40-28, to advance to the 2A state championship game this week in Hot Springs. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

March 7, 2020


QUITMAN – Defense, not a high-scoring offense, opened the door for a return to the Class 2A state championship basketball game for the Quitman Lady Bulldogs.

Earle was held to single digit in three of four quarters as Quitman advanced to the state final for the third time in four seasons with a 40-28 win at the Bulldog Complex Saturday.

Quitman (30-3) will meet Melbourne (33-2) at Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Bearkats punched their ticket with a 68-54 win against Des Arc in the other semifinal on Saturday at Quitman.

“It was a defensive game between two good teams,” Quitman coach Tim Hooten said. “Both teams reacted against the physical play. We did a good job of getting into defensive position and drew charges. That slowed down Earle. It is a defensive accomplishment to hold Earle to 28 points.

“We got good play off the bench when we got into foul trouble during the second half. They may have been out of positions at times, but they got the rebounds and took good care of the ball. They played their roles.”


Hooten hinted after Friday’s quarterfinal win against Marmaduke how defense would be a key against Earle. He also said scoring back-to-back field goals in the final seconds of the first half was important.
“The girls did it on their own,” said Hooten when asked about that sequence. “We jumped passes and scored. I told the girls earlier to play a little off Earle’s players because of their speed. Those two field goals gave us a big lift at halftime.”

Taylor Hooten led Quitman in scoring with 11 points while post player Lucy Holland also finished in double figures with 10. Carson Rackley had nine points but her play was limited because of foul trouble during the second half, but Holland shouldered part of the load during Rackley’s absence.

“Our defense pulled us through,” Rackley said. “I was in foul trouble, but my teammates picked it up. I never care about how many points I score, but my only concern is getting the win. I try to be a good cheerleader from the bench when that happens.”

Quitman’s Lucy Holland looks to go up for a shot against Earle’s Kaliyah Washington. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Holland downplayed her role during the second half and credited her teammates for their performance.

“Someone has to step in when that happens,” she said. “We can’t rely on just one player to do it all.”

Rackley and Holland said the team welcomed an opportunity to play in the state tournament at home. They also said part of the motivation was getting redemption from last year’s performance against Earle at the state tournament in Carlisle.

“We came into the tournament confident and knew Earle was there,” Rackley said. “We benefited from playing at home and in front of our fans.”

Holland agreed.

“I knew it would be Earle and us in the semifinals,” she said. “The seniors realized every game could be our last one. Our crowd and community are the best around. Our fans had a great effect on us. It will be great to play our final game on the biggest stage. It will be the greatest feeling in the world.”

Earle took a 2-0 lead early in the first quarter, but Quitman answered by scoring seven consecutive points and led 7-2 going into the second quarter.

Quitman’s Halle Bennett looks to penetration past Earle’s T’asja Hughey. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

The Lady Bulldogs maintained the lead and struck quickly in the final 10 seconds for a momentum lift. Rackley scored on an inside move and then Taylor Hooten intercepted the inbound pass and made a shot at the buzzer for the 20-14 halftime lead.

Tim Hooten said the message to his players during halftime was simple.

“We were missing too many shots and taking too many shots in a panic,” he said. “We needed to relax, so we could shoot better. We did that in the third quarter.”

Quitman controlled the second half. The Lady Bulldogs built a 29-22 lead by the end of the third quarter and never challenged for the remainder of the game.

Hooten said preparation for Melbourne will begin on Monday.

“We lost to them early in the season,” he said. “We are a different team now.”

Class 2A Semifinals at Quitman
March 7, 2020
Earle (30-7)   2  12  8   6 - 28
Quitman (30-3) 7  13  9  11 - 40
EARLE SCORING (28): Colbi Maples 12, Elaijha Brown 8, T’asja Hughey 6, Tiara Rogers 2
QUITMAN SCORING (40): Taylor Hooten 11, Lucy Holland 10, Carson Rackley 7, Halle Bennett 7, Gracie Smith 2, Haley Trawick 2, Autumn Johnson 1


Pangburn falls to Earle in 2A quarterfinals

Pangburn’s Cade McKee goes up for a shot against Earle on Friday in Quitman. Pangburn led at the half but fell to Bulldogs, 73-42. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELLE McCARTY

March 6, 2020


QUITMAN – Pangburn held the lead during most of the first half, but Earle’s second-half scoring outburst became too much for the Tigers to overcome.

Earle (20-9) trailed 27-24 at halftime and returned with a 21-6 third-quarter scoring run and defeated Pangburn 73-42 in the Class 2A state tournament quarterfinals at the Bulldog Complex.

Luke Rolland scored 17 points for Pangburn, while Cade McKee finished with 10 points. Rholly Davis led Earle with a game-high 19 points. Jermayne Johnson scored 17 points, followed by Donnie Warren with 15 points and Donnie Cheers had 11 points.

McGee made 2-of-2 free throws and Alex Langley hit 1-of-2 free throws as Pangburn led 8-5 midway through the first quarter. Rolland tied the game at 8-8 with a 3-pointer, but the Tigers regained the lead on another 3-pointer by Rolland.

Cheers scored late in the quarter and reduced Pangburn’s lead to 11-10 going into the second quarter.

The score was tied twice early in the second quarter before Pangburn regained the lead on Jadyn Ramsey’s field goal. Earle rallied for a 20-19 lead before back-to-back 3- pointers by Rolland and Brenden Grayum, giving the Tigers a 25-20 lead.

Pangburn maintained the lead and held a 27-24 advantage at halftime.

The tide turned midway through the third quarter with the game tied at 31-31. Earle had a 14-2 scoring run and pulled away to a 45-33 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Earle outscored the Tigers 28-6 during the fourth quarter.

Pangburn finished the season with a record of 24-15.

Class 2A Quarterfinals
Pangburn  11 16  6  9 - 42
Earle     10 14 21 28 - 73
PANGBURN SCORING (42): Luke Rolland 17, Cade McKee 10, Tanner Galyan 8, Brenden Grayum 3, Jadyn Ramsey 3, Alex Langley 1.
EARLE SCORING (73): Rholly Davis 19, Jermayne Johnson 17, Donnie Warren 15, Donnie Cheers 11, Nick Mathis 6, Devin Johnson 5.