Tuesday, January 26, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Heber Springs rallies for win over ’Rabbits

Leader sports editor

If one looked at just the very beginning and very end of the game, it would appear Heber Springs led Lonoke from pillar to post. Truth is, the Jackrabbits dominated nearly the entire game before succumbing in the fourth quarter. In the end, the Panthers prevailed 59-54 in Monday’s make-up game at the Gina Cox Center, avenging a 74-68 home loss to the Jackrabbits in November.

Heber Springs jumped out to a 7-3 lead as Lonoke missed its first five shots in the first three minutes of the game. But from the 5:02 mark to the end of the opening period the Jackrabbits went on a 13-0 run. Bryson Jackson then opened the second quarter with a nifty dish to Kylan Branscomb for a huge dunk that completed the run at 15-0 and gave the home team an 18-7 lead.

The lead never got any bigger, but the Panthers couldn’t get any closer than six, and that only briefly, until the fourth quarter. That began to change with the last bucket of the third quarter.

Heber Springs’ Hunter Chandler scored to pull the Panthers to within 44-38, and they were within 46-43 within 90 seconds of the fourth.

Jawaun Bryant scored for Lonoke, but Heber answered to make the score 48-45 and force a Lonoke timeout.

The Panthers scored the first four points after the break. Two free throws by Jordan Adkins gave Heber Springs its first lead since halfway through the first quarter at 49-48 with 4:38 remaining.

Lonoke turned it over on the ensuing possession but got a defensive stop. Branscomb then put back a Bryant miss to put the Jackrabbits back in front with three minutes remaining.

Isaac Toney then got a steal. His outlet pass went to Tyler Spencer who dished to Jackson for a layup and a 52-49 Lonoke lead with 2:30 remaining.

Heber Springs then closed the game with a decisive 10-2 run.

It started with a dubious foul call on Justin Meadows that sent Chase Galloway to the line for two free throws. Bryant then traveled with the basketball on the ensuing possession, and Chandler scored at the other end to put the Panthers up 53-52 with 1:25 to play.

Spencer then penetrated the lane and hit a huge short jumper, his first basket of the game, to give Lonoke a 54-53 lead with 1:10 left, but it was the last Lonoke basket of the game.

Chandler was fouled again, making the foul count 11-4 in Heber’s favor, and hit both free throws with 39 seconds to play. Lonoke had a chance to hold for the last shot, but made only one pass before Bryant threw up a contested shot and missed with 30 seconds to play.

Chandler got the rebound and after dribbling into the frontcourt, called timeout with 22 seconds to play. Lonoke fouled Chandler with 20 seconds to play and he again made both free throws.

Bryant missed a 3-pointer off the back of the rim, and the long rebound led to a run-out bucket by Slade Welch just before the buzzer that set the final margin.

Heber Springs (9-9, 7-4) got no scoring contribution from its bench. Chandler led all scorers with 21 points, including 12 of 13 from the free-throw line, and made it a double-double with 10 rebounds.

Welch scored 15 for the Panthers while Adkins added 11 and Galloway 10. Heber Springs went 18 of 21 from the foul line and 18 of 47 from the floor, including 5 of 15 from 3-point range.

Branscomb led Lonoke with a double-double, scoring 13 and grabbing 10 rebounds. Jackson and Bryant each scored 11 while Meadows added nine despite missing most of the game with foul trouble. Spencer had five assists.

Lonoke (11-9, 4-7) went 21 for 55 from the floor and an impressive 17 of 36 from 2-point range. But the Jackrabbits were just 8 of 16 at the free-throw line and 4 of 19 from outside the arc.