Senior forward Marcus Heard leads a talented Springfield Southeast
team into what he hopes is an Elite Eight finishing season.
Heard to DePaul
By Frank Rusnak
There is a new sheriff in the capital city, and they are led by a long armed, soft shooting, defense demoralizer named Marcus Heard.
Heard, a 6'7" combo forward, leads Springfield Southeast into action as the top team in Springfield this year. Usually that tag is reserved for neighboring Springfield Lanphier, but the Spartans led by seniors Heard, Ty Johnson, Tony Wheatley, Asa Clayborn and junior Tommy Collier, have the edge this season returning all five starters.
"We have about eight or nine guys who can score in double digits every night."
They are usually the favorite against us, but not this year, said Heard, who signed with DePaul before the season to focus on getting to State. They are our rivals. For the most part we've always been the underdogs though. But we are really confident about beating them this year.
Heard, whos Spartans started off the season with the Alton Tip-Off Classic Championship, is so secure in his team that he rates his confidence with an 11 on a scale of 10.
On a scale of 1-10 of being confident in my team would be an 11, said Heard, who has a jet airplane like wingspan of 611. We are confident we could beat anybody.
Heard has started the season holding true to his words, guiding Southeast to a 5-0 record at Alton. Heard started off the tournament with a 27-point output against Jerseyville. He followed that up with 10, 17, 6 and 21-point games for a 16-point average.
The only problem Heard has ran into this season has been foul trouble. He fouled out in the championship game against Cahokia with only six points.
All I heard all day was Foul on No. 51, said the 215-pounder. I had two clean blocks in the first minute of the game and they were both late calls. I got back in the second quarter, took a charge and didnt get the call and went back to the bench. I started the second half and blocked a dunk attempt and eventually fouled out.
Johnson, the teams point guard and tri-captain with Heard and Wheatley, knows that the team will be OK if Heard gets in foul trouble, and even when hes not the teams leading scorer.
We have about eight or nine guys that could score in double digits every night, said Johnson, a Division One recruit who has slipped below the radar. It makes my job so much easier I don't have to put a lot of pressure on myself to score, but just get some other players involved. [Marcus] is going to help everybody else out this year because everyone's going to focus on him. If he cannot really worry about getting his (points) then we'll be all right. A lot of teams think we don't have anyone else except him.
Johnson, like the rest of the Southeast team, is gearing up for their matchups with Lanphier that will come first on Dec. 21, then again in January.
Lanphier has the tradition and history, being the state title runner up three times since 1977 and state champs in 1983. Lanphier also has the stars in former Iowa Hawkeye greats Ed Horton and Kevin Gamble, who both headed the 83 squad. What does Southeast have? They are hoping, this year.
[Lanphier] basically always would beat us, Johnson said. This year it probably should be a whole lot different though. All they're doing is depending on (all-state senior guard) Rich [McBride].
While Southeast has its own all-state candidate this year in Heard, the only goal on his mind is getting to Peoria for the Class AA Elite Eight.
Coming off a disappointing regionals loss to Mt. Zion last year, the team finished the year with a 20-8 mark. Heard looks for improvement this year, and thinks this years team can be special.
Were trying to get to state and break a few records for the school, Heard said. We want to be the best team that [Southeast] ever had.
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