Lady Panthers tamed by Searcy

Heber Springs’ Hailey Bresnahan battles with Searcy’s Ashley Brown for a rebound at the Panther Den. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Trailing by 16 points midway through the second quarter didn’t discourage the Heber Springs Lady Panthers for long.

The Lady Panthers trailed 28-12, reduced Searcy’s lead to nine points by halftime and four points going into the fourth quarter. Heber Springs tied the game twice during the final minutes, but fell to the Lady Lions 58-54 in a non-conference basketball at the Panther Den Tuesday.

The loss ended a four-game win streak for the Lady Panthers.

Heber Springs’ Ellie Riddle made two free throws and tied the game at 51-51 with 3:13 left. Madison Clemons made a 3-pointer and tied the game at 54-54 with 1:01 remaining. Ashria Brown put Searcy ahead to stay 55-54 with 39 seconds to play.

“We finally started to make shots,” said Heber Springs coach Jamey Riddle when asked what triggered the second-quarter turnaround. “We capitalized on rebounds, slow down our offense and got better shots. We tied the game, but turnovers prevented us from taking the lead.”

Naliyah Hadley led Searcy’s attack by scoring 13 points. Ashria Brown had 11 points. Hailey Bresnahan came off the bench for the Lady Panthers and scored a game-high 17 points. Jaylee Hooten added 14 points.

“Searcy played more physical during the first half, and we came back and played more physical during the second half,” Riddle said. We can’t start games like that and win.”

Searcy dominated the first quarter and built an 18-8 lead. The Lady Lions increased the lead to 16 points before Heber Springs started its comeback. The Lady Panthers went on a 12-5 scoring run and trailed 33-24 at halftime.

Heber Springs (6-4) closed the gap by outscoring Searcy 19-10 and trailed 47-43 going into the fourth quarter.

Riddle said Bresnahan, who missed the second half of last season with knee surgery, continues to play well off the bench, and she was a major part of the comeback.

“Hailey is finding her rhythm,” Riddle said. “She could become our third or fourth scorer (behind Ellie Riddle and Hooten). It came down to making plays at the end of the game. We need to learn from this game and move on.”

Searcy 18 15 14 11–58
Heber Springs 8 16 14 11–54
Searcy scorers — Naliyah Hadley 13, Ashria Brown 11, Kendricka Turner 9, Olivia Robertson 9, Ashley Brown 7, Chelsea. Johnson 5, Blair Henry 4.
Heber Springs scorers — Hailey Bresnahan 17, Jaylee Hooten 14, Ellie Riddle 8, Sophie Stone 7, Madison Clemons 6, Kylie Carr 2.

Panthers fall late to St. Joseph

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Heber Springs’ Conner Riddle runs into a Conway St. Joseph defender in action Tuesday night from the Panther Den. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs never successfully solved Conway St. Joseph’s change of defense during the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s nonconference basketball game at the Panther Den.

St. Joseph went on a 21-7 fourth quarter scoring run and defeated the Panthers, 43-33.

Heber Springs led 18-16 at halftime and took a 26-24 lead into the fourth quarter.

“St. Joseph made defensive adjustments against what we were doing in the first half at halftime,” Heber Springs coach Dusty West said. “They were playing a 2-3 zone and a soft man-to-man defense during the first half. They switched to a full-court man defense and forced us to play at a different pace during the second half. We took a lot of quick shots and were held to seven points in the fourth quarter.”

West said work remains on the team’s conditioning, so the players can maintain that pace for four quarters.

“We looked tired and fouled too much,” he said. “We have been working on our conditioning. St. Joseph’s man defense made a difference in the fourth quarter. We were getting good shots in the second quarter, but we didn’t do that during the second half.”

St. Joseph built an 11-5 lead and increased it to 14-5 by early in the second quarter.

Conner Riddle led the Heber Springs’ rally, scoring eight points, while Ryan Crocker made a 3-pointer and Austin Winchester scored as Heber Springs led 18-16 at halftime.

The Panthers kept the momentum at the start of the second half and led 26-22 going into the fourth quarter.

Riddle scored 17 points for Heber Springs. Luke Bruich led St. Joseph with 18 points.

“Conner had a good game,” West said. “He handled the ball and the pressure of bringing the ball up well. I’m proud of how he played. The team keeps improving overall, but we let this game get away from us. We led going into the fourth quarter and had a change at winning.”

Heber Springs (1-5) will play Riverview in Searcy at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

“Riverview will be a challenge,” West said. “It will be a different style of game because Riverview will play at a faster pace. We are giving a great effort, and that is all you can ask from them.”

Conway St. Joseph 11 5 6 21–43
Heber Springs 5 13 8 7–33
Conway St. Joseph scorers — Luke Bruich 18, Luke Pope 8, Jake Hill 7, Jacob Williams 6, Gage Kordsmeier 3, Matt Brorman 1.  
Heber Springs scorers — Conner Riddle 17, Ryan Crocker 6, Austin Winchester 4, Gus Hannah 3, Logan Monahan 3.

Lady Panthers hold off St. Joseph

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Heber Springs’ LiLi Chaney with a pass against Conway St. Joseph Tuesday night at the Panther Den. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

After a scoring marathon for 29 minutes, the Heber Springs Lady Panthers finally shut the door on Conway St. Joseph at the Panther Den Tuesday.

The Lady Panthers (5-3) went on an 11-2 run during the final three minutes and defeated St. Joseph 71-62 in a nonconference basketball game for their third straight win.

Heber Springs started the fourth quarter trailing 51-49 as the lead changed three times during the next five minutes. St. Joseph tied the game at 60-60 on Savannah Mooney’s 3-pointer before the Lady Panthers made their move. Hailey Bresnahan broke the deadlock by hitting a jumper and seconds later, she made two free throws, and Heber Springs never trailed again.

“I knew the first team that got a couple of defensive stops was going to win,” Heber Springs coach Jamey Riddle said. “We got deflections, rebounds and made shots. Our defense came through in a big way.”

Jaylee Hooten scored a game-high 29 points for the Lady Panthers, followed by Sophie Stone with 14 points and Ellie Riddle had 12 points. Stone and Bresnahan, who combined for 23 points, led the charge late in the game.

“They (Stone and Bresnahan) are capable scorers and understand their roles,” Riddle said. “They helped out the team in that situation.”

Savannah Mooney led St. Joseph with 22 points. Lilly Hill contributed 15 points and Livi Williams added 12 points. Maggie Mooney scored 11 points.

“St. Joseph’s shooting surprised us, but our defense didn’t rotate quick enough to the right spot,” Riddle said. “We didn’t slow down their passes.”

The two teams exchanged field goals during most of the first quarter. St. Joseph took a 16-14 before Hooten scored on an inside move and Riddle’s jumper put the Lady Panthers ahead 18-16 with 1:11 left in the quarter.
Hill made 1-of-2 free throws and made a short jumper, giving the Lady Bulldogs a 19-18 lead going into the second quarter.

Heber Springs rallied for a 28-23 lead midway through the second quarter. The Lady Panthers maintained that margin and took a 35-30 lead into the dressing room at halftime.

St. Joseph took a 49-44 lead midway through the third quarter. The Lady Bulldogs survived Heber Springs’ rally and led 51-49 going into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Panthers hope to continue the momentum from the win against Riverview in Searcy at 6 p.m. Friday.

“We have played a lot of homes games and Friday will be an opportunity to show we can win on the road,” Riddle said. “Conference play is coming, and we need to learn how to win on the road. It will be a good test in preparing for the conference opener against Ozark, which had a great run late last season and returns experienced players.”

Conway St. Joseph 19 11 21 11–62
Heber Springs 18 17 14 22–71
Conway St. Joseph scorers — Savannah Mooney 22, Lilly Hill 15, Livi Williams 12, Maggie Mooney 11, Chloe Skinner 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Jaylee Hooten 29, Sophie Stone 14, Ellie Riddle 12, Hailey Bresnahan 9, Melissa Clemons 4, Hope Turney 3.

Heber Springs claims first win of the season

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Heber Springs’ Logan Monahan looks for a teammate in action against Shirley. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The season’s first win didn’t come easy for the Heber Springs Panthers.
Heber Springs went on a 19-4 third-quarter scoring run and pulled away with a 55-41 nonconference basketball win against the Shirley Blue Devils at the Panther Den Tuesday.

The Panthers trailed late in the second quarter, but Bauer Pruitt’s 3-pointer with seconds left sent the team into the dressing room with a 28-27 halftime lead. Heber Springs led 47-31 going into the fourth quarter.

Heber Springs ended a 24-game losing streak. The last win came at Dover (37-32) on Dec. 10, 2019.

“These guys have been through so much for the past two weeks,” coach Dusty West said. “The players kept fighting after they played three tough opponents (Batesville, Greenbrier and Guy-Perkins). We took our licks in those games. The players showed their maturity and composure.”

Ryan Crocker led a balanced scoring attack with 11 points for the Panthers. Conner Riddle and Gus Hannah each had eight points. Nash Little scored a game-high 17 points for Shirley. Arrick Nowell contributed nine points.

“It was a fun night, and they deserved this win,” West said. “The players refused to lose. Before the game, I drew a line on the board and told the players we will do what is needed to get across this line.”

Heber Springs held a four-point for most of the first quarter. Shirley tied the game at 7-7 midway through the quarter before back-to-back 3-pointers by Crocker and Zach Thomas broke the deadlock. Shirley pulled to within 13-12, but the Panthers answered and held an 18-13 lead going into the second quarter.

The Blue Devils remained close and took their first lead on Little’s 3-pointer, 26-25, with 1:30 left in the first half. Little made 1-of-2 free throws before Pruitt’s 3-pointer gave Heber Springs a 28-27 halftime lead.

“Our depth was a factor in the second  half,” West said. “Shirley had two good shooters, and we did a good job defending them. This was a good way to go into Thanksgiving.”

Heber Springs (1-4) will return to action by hosting Conway St. Joseph at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“It will be a challenge and a tough matchup,” West said. “The players are hungry after getting that first win.”

Shirley 13 14 4 10–41
Heber Springs 18 10 19 8–55
Shirley scorers — Nash Little 17, Arrick Nowell 9, Hunter Bradford 8, Alex Eoff 5, Trey Mattison 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Ryan Crocker 11, Conner Riddle 8, Gus Hannah 8, Logan Monahan 6, J.T. Spears 5, Austin Winchester 5, Dakota Farmer 4, Zach Thomas 3, Bauer Pruitt 3, Harley Breshanan 2.  

Lady Panthers run past Shirley

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Heber Springs’ Ellie Riddle with a pass against Shirley in senior girls nonconference action at the Panther Den. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Playing back-to-back basketball games didn’t slow down the Heber Springs Lady Panthers.

After Monday’s double overtime win at Guy-Perkins, the Lady Panthers (4-3) moved above the .500 mark on the season with an 63-18 non-conference win against Shirley at the Panther Den Tuesday.

Sophomore Jaylee Hooten and senior Ellie Riddle combined for 33 points. Hooten led the Heber Springs’ scoring with 19 points and Riddle contributed 14 points. Sophomore Hope Turney had nine points.

Alyssa Gatlin scored seven points for Shirley.

“I was curious to see how the players’ legs were after playing the night before at Guy,” Heber Springs coach Jamey Riddle said. “They played a lot of minutes. Sometimes, the more you play, a team can get into a better rhythm. We picked up where we finished the Guy game against Shirley. We were moving well, and our shots were falling better. It was good to see them playing consistency.”

Riddle said the team’s full-court press slowed Shirley down and created scoring opportunities.

“Our press confused and caused them to rush their shots,” he said. “We got a lot of rebounds and into our transition game for easy buckets.”

Coach Riddle also said Ellie Riddle and Hooten continued to lead the offense.

“Ellie is finding more of a groove with her shot,” the coach said. “Jaylee is starting to play well and doing a better job of driving into the lane and making shots. Other players are playing their roles.”

Riddle said Kylie Carr continues to play well. Carr scored 16 points at Guy after Ellie Riddle and Hooten fouled out.

“We need players to do that;,” coach Riddle said. “Ellie and Jaylee will not score 20 or more every game. Kylie is an unselfish player. It was her time to shine. She plays that way all of the time in practice. If she hadn’t, we might not have won the game (at Guy).”

Hooten and Riddle combined for 16 of Heber Springs’ 21 points during the first quarter. The Lady Panthers led 21-6 going into the second quarter.
Heber Springs didn’t slow down and went on a 18-4 scoring run and built a 39-10 lead by halftime. The Lady Panthers led 51-12 going into the fourth quarter.

“The two wins will give us momentum,” Riddle said. “We lost games to tough teams (Batesville and Greenbrier).”

Heber Springs will host Conway St. Joseph at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Shirley 6 4 2 6–18
Heber Springs 21 18 12 12–63
Shirley scorers — Alyssa Gatlin 7, Sidney Severn 3, Lilly Wymer 2, Ariana Bradford 2, Kayla Ginn 2, Hoydi Breedlove 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Jaylee Hooten 19, Ellie Riddle 14, Hope Turney 9, Hailey Bresnahan 8, Sophie Stone 4, Kylie Carr 4, Lili Chaney 3, Olivia Norton 2.  

Greenbrier tops Heber Springs in senior boys play

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Heber Springs’ Ryan Crocker in action against Greenbrier. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs never got the offense rolling, scoring in single digits during each of the first three quarters, and lost to Greenbrier 65-28 in a nonconference boys’ high school basketball game at the Panther Den Thursday.

Greenbrier built a 13-2 first-quarter lead and went on a 25-7 scoring run during the second quarter and led 38-9 at halftime. Heber Springs trailed 52-16 going into the fourth quarter.

Wyatt Winchester scored six points for Heber Springs. Logan Monahan and Conner Riddle each had five points. Reece Jones led Greenbrier with 13 points and Marques Robinson contributed 10 points.

Heber Springs (0-3) is scheduled to play at Guy-Perkins on Monday and will host Shirley on Tuesday in nonconference games. Both games are set to start at 6 p.m.

Greenbrier 13 25 14 13–65
Heber Springs 2 7 7 12–28
Greenbrier scorers — Reece Jones 13, Marques Robinson 10, Bryce Webb 9, Jack Runsick 7, Jace Dunlap 7, Hayes Johnson 5, Dax Caughern 4, Nate Barrentine 3, Spencer Melton 3, Thomas Kendall 2, Gavin James 2.  
Heber Springs scorers — Wyatt Winchester 6, Logan Monahan 5, Conner Riddle 5, Bent McClain 3, J.T. Spears 3, Trevor Myrick 2, Ryan Crocker 2, Bauer Pruitt 2.

Greenbrier downs Heber Springs in senior girls action

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Heber Springs’ Kylie Carr goes up for a shot against Greenbrier at the Panther Den. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Greenbrier post Alexandria Newland proved too much for the Heber Springs defense to contain during Thursday’s non-conference basketball game at the Panther Den.

Newland scored 12 of her game-high 22 points during the second half in Greenbrier’s 48-40 win against Heber Springs.

“You can’t lose where No. 44 (Newland) is on the floor when she puts up shots because she will go after the rebound,” Heber Springs coach Jamey Riddle said. “We lost her a couple of times. She posts up well and has a good touch on her shot.”

Sophomore post Jaylee Hooten and senior guard Ellie Riddle combined to score 33 of Heber Springs’ 40 points. Hooten had 10 of her 18 points during the first half. Riddle contributed 15 points, eight points coming during the first two quarters.

“Jaylee played more aggressively, and we need her to do that every game,” coach Riddle said. “Ellie had a good game, handled the ball well and made a few shots. She is doing what a senior should do and a good team leader.”

Greenbrier took a 5-2 lead early in the first quarter. Hooten scored back-to-back field goals as Heber Springs pulled ahead, 6-5. Heber Springs maintained control during the remainder of the quarter and led 14-7 going into the second quarter.

Greenbrier seized the momentum and went on a 9-2 scoring run and tied the game at 16-16 midway through the second quarter. The lead changed five times during the next four minutes as Greenbrier emerged with a 22-20 advantage at halftime.

Heber Springs trailed by 11 points late in the third quarter. Sophie Stone and Hooten scored field goals as Greenbrier’s lead was reduced to 40-31 going into the fourth quarter.

“We played a great first quarter,” Riddle said. “Greenbrier turned it on during the second quarter and evened the score. Greenbrier began hitting its shots in the third quarter that it had missed earlier in the game.”

Riddle said Greenbrier’s conditioning and stronger physical play were determining factors, especially during the fourth quarter.

“Kylie (Carr) started because she is more of a physical player,” Riddle said. “She helped on the inside. Lili (Chaney), Brandi (Meredith) and Hope (Turney) came off the bench and played well. That is what we are going to need this season to be more successful.”

Riddle said playing more physical will be one of the areas that the team needs improvement before starting conference play.

“You got to play physical and not get tired,” Riddle said. “We didn’t do that or enough to win the game. We need to get in better physical condition.”

Heber Springs (2-3) is scheduled to play at Guy-Perkins on Monday and will host Shirley on Tuesday in nonconference games. Both games are set to start at 5 p.m.

“We need a bounce-back week,” Riddle said. “We played better against Greenbrier, and I hope that momentum will carry over to those games going into Thanksgiving.”

Greenbrier 7 15 18 8–48
Heber Springs 14 6 11 9–40
Greenbrier scorers — Alexandria Newland 22, Kylie Griffin 7, Riley Myatt 5, McKayla Betts 5, Carlie Reynolds 4, Brooklyn Jerry 3, Ashton Hopper 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Jaylee Hooten 18, Ellie Riddle 15, Hailey Bresnahan 3, Sophie Stone 2, Kylie Carr 2.

Heber Springs runs into Batesville buzzsaw

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Heber Springs’ Conner Riddle drives along the baseline against Batesville Tuesday night at the Panther Den. Also pictured is Batesville’s (23) Kyrese Johnson. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs started a tough two-game stretch before Thanksgiving week with a 71-40 loss to Batesville in a nonconference basketball game at the Panther Den Tuesday.

Batesville built a 26-6 lead by the end of the first quarter and increased it to 45-20 by halftime. The Panthers trailed 67-29 going into the fourth quarter.

“You could tell that Batesville is a senior team,” Heber Springs coach Dusty West said. “They have played together for four years and were playing in mid-season form. Batesville made a lot of shots and has a great post in J.P. Morgan. We didn’t have an answer for him, but battled as best we could. Morgan’s physical strength and basketball skill were on a different level.”

Sophomore Conner Riddle, who just completed the football season, scored 10 points for the Panthers in his season debut. Bauer Pruitt, also a sophomore, added seven points.

Morgan led the Pioneers with a game-high 21 points. Caden Griffin had 11 points.

West, who assumed the head coach duties last week, took over Heber Springs program following the resignation of Scott Bramlett, hopes his players will follow Batesville’s example in the future. Thirteen of the Panthers’ 16 players are underclassmen.

“After the game, I told the guys that is the type of a team  we want to become,” West said. “We want to push the ball up and down the floor, pass the ball inside and throw it out to the perimeter and make 3-pointers.”

West said his team’s second-half performance illustrated what the future may hold.

“I was happy with our effort,” he said. “Despite trailing by double digits, we still were taking charges, hustling for loose balls and fighting for rebounds. “We played well during the second half and executed better.”

Heber Springs (0-2) will host nonconference rival Greenbrier on Thursday.

“The players were energetic and positive in the locker room after the game,” West said. “They are ready to get back on the floor against Greenbrier on Thursday. Greenbrier will test us, and we hope to show how much fight we have. I prefer playing these type of nonconference games, so we can become a better team and prepare for conference play.”

Heber Springs will play Guy-Perkins, Shirley, South Side Bee Branch, Conway St. Joseph, Riverview and Searcy before the start 4-4A Conference opener at Subiaco Academy on Dec. 11. The home conference opener will be against Ozark on Dec. 18.

The Panthers will play finish Cedar Ridge, Newport, Sheridan, Rose Bud and Clinton before resuming conference play at Morrilton on Jan. 5.

“I told the players not to get caught up with the number of wins and losses, but work to get better and hope it leads to winning conference games,” West said. “The nonconference schedule will benefit us in the long run.”

The Panthers gained six new players — Zach Thomas, Gus Hannah, Dakota Farmer, Riddle, Austin Winchester and Wyatt Winchester — following completion of the football season. West said those players are currently in transition and will become more involved in future games.

“We will be trying to establish our rotation and work with the football players on basketball conditioning,” West said. “You will see the team come more together as the season goes. We have a lot of room for growth. The players have potential.”

Batesville 26 19 22 4–71
Heber Springs 6 14 9 11–40
Batesville scorers — J.P. Morgan 21, Caden Griffin 11, Gunner Shell 8, K.J. Cross 6, John Morgan 6, Kyrese Johnson 6, Wes Lange 5, Logan McSpadden 4, Ben Hopper 2, Kolby Young 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Conner Riddle 10, Bauer Pruitt 7, Gus Hannah 5, Dakota Farmer 4, Zach Thomas 4, Harley Bresnahan 4, J.T. Spears 3, Joseph Ferris 2, Zach Stogsdill 1.  

Batesville races past Heber Springs

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Heber Springs’ Madison Clemons gets past a Batesville defender in action Tuesday night at the Panther Den. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

University of Missouri commit Isabella Higginbottom scored a game-high 23 points and led the Batesville Lady Pioneers to a 78-44 win against the Heber Springs Lady Panthers in a nonconference basketball game at the Panther Den Tuesday.

Batesville began the game with a 9-0 scoring run and held the Lady Panthers scoreless until Jaylee Hooten made 2-of-2 free throws with 4:14 left in the first quarter. Heber Springs was outscored 11-8 for the remainder of the quarter and trailed 20-10 going into the second quarter.

The pace picked up during the second quarter when the Lady Pioneers outscored Heber Springs 26-18 for a 46-28 halftime lead. Batesville’s lead increased to 68-40 going into the  the fourth quarter.

Ellie Riddle led the Lady Panthers with 16 points. Hooten contributed 10 points. Taylor Rush scored 14 points for the Lady Pioneers, while London Cuzzort and Olivia Everretts each had 12 points.

Heber Springs (2-2) will host Greenbrier in a nonconference game at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Batesville 20 26 22 10–78
Heber Springs 10 18 12 4–44
Batesville scorers — Isabella Higginbottom 23, Taylor Rush 14, London Cuzzort 12, Olivia Everretts 12, Kayla Ward 6, Anna Ezell 5, Sophie Poole 4, Belen Sanchez 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Ellie Riddle 16, Jaylee Hooten 10, Hailey Bresnahan 9,  Sophie Stone 3, Madison Clemons 2, Olivia Norton 2, Hope Turney 1, Kylie Carr 1.