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.

Bradshaw gets win as Harding wins ninth-in-a-row

March 6, 2020

By SCOTT GOODE/HARDING SPORTS INFORMATION

SEARCY – Harding baseball scored in five consecutive innings Friday and defeated Southeastern Oklahoma 7-2 in game one of its three-game Great American Conference series at Jerry Moore Field.

The win was Harding’s ninth straight overall and fifth straight in the GAC and moved the Bisons to 16-5 overall and 7-3 in conference games. The Bisons moved into second place in the GAC standings, one game back of leader Oklahoma Baptist. Harding and Southeastern Oklahoma (10-10, 3-7) conclude the series with a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.

Trailing 1-0 entering in the bottom of the fourth, Harding tied the game on a Connor Kelly single that scored Miles Humphreys.

Harding took the lead for good in the fifth on a Michael Chrisman RBI single that plated Brendan Perrett.

The Bisons took a 4-1 lead with two more in the sixth. The runs came on a Cody Smith sacrifice fly and Chris Witzke’s single that scored Kelly.

Kelly had another RBI single in the seventh to give the Bisons a 5-2 lead. In the eighth, Harding tacked on two more on three consecutive doubles from Owen Martin, Perrett and Chrisman.

Harding starter Andrew Bradshaw (4-2) allowed single runs in the second and sixth innings but worked out of trouble both times, stranding the bases loaded on both occasions.

Bradshaw struck out six and got eight groundball outs, throwing 90 pitches over six innings.

Ryder Yakel came on in the seventh and retired nine straight hitters, six by strikeout. He threw 27 of his 37 pitches for strikes and had 10 swings and misses.

Southeastern starter Jacob Potter (3-3), the reigning GAC Pitcher of the Week, lasted six innings and allowed four runs (two earned) with five strikeouts and took the loss.

Kelly led Harding, going 3-for-4 with a run and two RBIs. He leads the team with eight multi-hit games and seven multi-RBI games. Chrisman and Perrett had two hits each.

Harding had 12 hits, the sixth time in the last seven games the Bisons had 10 or more.

Junior Panthers fall to Harding Academy

Heber Springs’ Conner Riddle. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

September 12, 2019

By PHILIP SEATON

SEARCY – Harding Academy quarterback Kade Smith rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns as the Wildcats downed Heber Springs, 40-0, in junior high action Thursday night.

Heber Springs (0-2) held Smith in check early though he did manage a 44-yard touchdown run and successful 2-point rush with 4:50 left in the first quarter. The Wildcats first score came off a Panther turnover. Heber Springs took the opening kickoff and moved inside Harding Academy territory thanks in part to a 15-yard run by Xander Lindley, but an interception stalled the drive.

The Panthers picked up a first-down on their next possession when Conner Riddle connected with Kenan Sneed for an 18-yard pass completion, but the drive stalled and Heber Springs was forced to punt.

The Panthers got the ball back two plays later when Hunter Edwards stepped in front of a Smith pass and returned it 14 yards — late in the contest Edwards would be carted off the field with an apparent arm injury.

Heber Springs then proceed to move the ball deep into Wildcat territory. On third-and-1, Riddley again found Sneed, this time for 10 yards to put on the Harding Academy 27. A third-down run by Channer Smith moved it to the Wildcat 17 while Riddle followed on the next play with a 14-yard run to put on the 3. But from there the drive would stall and Heber Springs would turn the ball over on downs with 5:10 left in the first half.

From there, the Wildcats would go on a 13-play, 97-yard drive to go up 16-0 with 48 seconds left in the half as Smith kept for an 11-yard touchdown run and successful 2-point run.

The Wildcats wasted no time going up 24-0 in the second half using a three-play, 58-yard drive that Kyler Hoover capped off with a six-yard touchdown run.

Heber Springs’ best chance to score in the second half came after Riddle picked off Smith and returned it 36 yards to the Wildcat 33. After a first-down pass from Lindley to Dalton Yancey moved to the Wildcat 13, the drive would fizzle out three plays later when Lindley was intercepted.

Harding Academy would close out the third-quarter scoring on the next play when Smith raced 83 yards for the score on the quarter’s final play.

The Wildcats added another score with 1:30 left when Hoover ran in from 15 yards out.

Heber Springs will be idle on Thursday before return to play on September 26 when it travels to Lonoke.

Heber Springs junior high head coach Chase Roberts after Harding Academy

Panther 7th-Graders claim win in final seconds

Heber Springs quarterback Liam Buffalo looks for running room as coaches Drew Lawrence and Jay Bishop look on during seventh-grade football action in Searcy. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

September 12, 2019

By PHILIP SEATON

SEARCY – Heber Springs scored a touchdown in the final minute to pull out an 18-14 victory over Harding Academy Thursday night in Searcy.

The Panthers improved to 2-0 with the win and will be off next week before returning to action on September 27 at Lonoke.

On Thursday, it was last-minute heroics that got the win for the Panthers.

Heber Springs Ty West running up field against Harding Academy on Thursday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

After Harding went up 14-12 with 4:36 to play, Heber Springs marched the ball downfield mainly on the legs of quarterback Laim Buffalo, but the drive appeared to stall with the Panthers facing a fourth-and-5 from the Wildcat 17. Instead of going with the legs of Buffalo, it was his arm as he connected with Weston Warden who caught the short pass and did the rest racing 17 yards for the score with 53.7 seconds left. The two-point conversion failed.

The Panther defense held Harding Academy and Heber Springs came away with the win.

Heber Springs’ Axley Davis takes the hand-off from Panther quarterback Liam Buffalo Thursday night in Searcy. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs struck first as Buffalo connected with Warden with a 77-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers up 6-0 with 11:21 to play in the first half.

After Harding Academy tied things up at 6-all with 5:41, Heber Springs struck right before halftime as Buffalo found Bryce Seigrest on a 60-yard touchdown pass.

Turnovers plagued Heber Springs in the second half leading to Harding Academy to taking the lead. After a turnover and the ensuing drive reached inside the Panther 25, Heber Springs’ defense stiffened and stopped the Wildcats on fourth down. But another turnover gave Harding Academy the ball back which led to Wildcat score.

Miller joins staff at Ecclesia College

August 20, 2019

By ECCLESIA SPORTS INFORMATION

SPRINGDALE – The Ecclesia Royals Baseball program is excited to announce the hiring of JR Miller. Miller will be joining the Royals as an Assistant Coach this season. He will be working with the pitchers and bringing a strong knowledge of the game and pitching to the team.

JR comes to us form Searcy where he grew up playing ball. Following a successful high school career at Harding Academy, Miller went to Northwest Mississippi Community College. He would end up spending three years there after an injury caused him to miss a season. In his 3 seasons at NMCC Miller compiled an 8-3 record with a 2.23 ERA in 65.1 innings pitched. JR would earn Second Team All MACJC after Tommy John Surgery while posting a 1.25 ERA and a 3-2 record out of the bullpen.

Following his success at Northwest Mississippi, JR went to NCAA Division II Union University in Tennessee. At Union Miller had a dominant Junior season. He earned 2nd Team All GSC with a 9-1 record and a 3.40 ERA over 82 innings pitched. Unfortunately JR would deal with some more arm injuries his senior year after starting the season 2-1 over 24.1 innings.

Following a strong collegiate playing career, JR wants to continue sharing his love for the game of baseball with the next generation of players, so he has gotten into coaching. This summer he coached the Coastal Stars, a Showcase Baseball Program based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Miller will be beginning his college coaching career at Ecclesia and we are thrilled to have him join the staff.

“JR fits exactly what we were looking for out of a pitching coach. He is a dynamic personality with a lot of knowledge, and a hunger for personal, and spiritual growth. I am looking forward to working with him and seeing how he leaves positive marks on these young men and this program”, said Coach McCue.

When asked about being the newest member of the EC coaching staff Coach Miller said, “This is an opportunity that I’ve been looking forward to since I was a little kid. The game has introduced me to many great baseball minds and even better people. It’s my hope that, yes I can improve these students as athletes and as baseball players, but more-so that I can be a positive influence and teach them how to be better men”. JR and his wife Morgan are both very excited about this new adventure in their lives.

Vilonia tops Heber Springs in Benefit Scrimmage

4A Panthers battle 5A Eagles; Heber Springs opens with Clinton

Heber Springs junior Matthew Cook fights for yardage as Vilonia’s Kyle Vines brings him to the ground during a scrimmage at Phillip D. Weaver Stadium in Vilonia on Tuesday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

August 27, 2019

By Philip Seaton

VILONIA – Unofficially it was a 21-7 first-team loss to Vilonia in an Arkansas Activities Association benefit scrimmage on Tuesday at Phillip D. Weaver Stadium, but for Heber Springs coach Will Cox, he saw enough to come away happy with his teams performance.

“I thought there were some bright spots,” Cox said.  “We saw some guys step up and play.”

Heber Springs finished with 202 yards of total offense in an abbreviated first half of play that saw the teams start at the 30-yard line without any kickoffs or punts.

Panther senior quarterback Adam Martin was 14-of-24 passing for 155 yards including a 7-yard touchdown pass to junior Matthew Cook right before the half to put the Panthers on the board. Returning all-conference performer Tri Johnson was Martin’s favorite target with five receptions for 84 yards.

With all-state running back Blaze Nelson and his 2,000 yards plus rushing gone from last season, senior Landon Johnson took on the bulk of the load rushing eight times for 40 yards.

“You know what you are going to get with Landon,” Cox said. “The effort you get on game day is the same effort you get every day. He’s a guy that worked out twice every day during the offseason. You know what you are going to get with him. He’s really reliable and he showed everybody else what we know about him.”

While there were some bright spots, there were some things that Cox said his team needed to work on before they open their season against Clinton on Sept. 6 at home in the Battle of the Little Red.

Among those were some dropped passes that could have led to touchdowns and missed blocks on offense, and some missed tackles and bad angles on defense that lead to Vilonia pilling up 319 yards of total offense with the majority of those coming on a screen pass that turned into a 97-yard touchdown.

“It was a lot of first opponent mistakes, but that is stuff that we can clean up” Cox said. “I told the guys that this is going to be great film for us.We are going to learn a lot from this film. It was a great opportunity to learn tonight.”

Vilonia sophomore quarterback Austin Myers was 9-of-10 passing for 266 yards and three touchdowns.

“That’s a very good Vilonia team,” Cox said of the 5A Eagles. “They are deep. They are big. They are going to have a good season. Our guys competed against them.”

SECOND HALF: The two teams played a 10 minute second-half period with the second teams. Vilonia outscored Heber Springs, 20-0, over that stretch, but senior running back Levy Phillips did show some promise during that stretch. 

“(He) came in and got some good runs for us,” Cox said, “that shows that we have some depth at the running back position which is good.”

LET’S PLAY TWO: Cox said that is exciting to see that his team loves to love to play. “They can’t get enough,” he said. “ If I could let them play another game tonight, they would.”

BIG NUMBERS: While Heber Springs has 43 players on the roster, Vilonia had 83 dressed out Tuesday night and that will be the most any team dresses out against the Panthers this season. Heber Springs has the third most players out in the 4A-2 with Southside Batesville leading the way with 51 and Bald Knob with 44. Other opponents by the numbers: Clinton (37), Greenbrier (61), Harding Academy (46), Lonoke (37), Stuttgart (37), Central Arkansas Christian (40), Riverview (33) and Little Rock Mills (20).

NO CONTACT: Both quarterbacks were off limits in regards to being tackled and were downed by touch. Martin and second-team quarterback John McBroome wore a red no contact jersey.

EXTRA POINT: Jackson Harrod connected on the lone extra point for Heber Springs. The Panthers will be looking to replace the graduate Julian Cameron, who connected on a state record 100 extra points. Cameron is battling for a starting position at Arkansas Tech.

NEW COACH: Will Cox was named interim head coach over the summer after former head coach Darren Gowen left at the end of the school year in the spring to pursue other opportunities in northwest Arkansas. Gowen has since been named the offensive coordinator at Gravette. Cox was co-defensive coordinator last season with E.G. Dew.

NEW ASSISTANTS: Former Greenbrier Panther Chase Roberts is the new junior high coach and will assist on the senior high team. Roberts was the head coach of the eight-man team at Pattonsburg (Missouri) High School last season. Roberts led his team to a 10-2 record last season. Also joining the staff is Hunter Davis. Davis coached at Star City last season. He will also be the head senior girls track coach. 

NEXT YEAR: Heber Springs’ 2020 schedule has been set. Riverview is moving down to Class 3A while Clinton will be moving back up to 4A. The Yellowjackets will replace Riverview in week 9 in conference. The Panthers will open at home in 2020 against Newport followed by a road date at Harding Academy before wrapping up nonconference play at home against Dover. Heber Springs athletic director Brad Reese said he attempted to schedule Riverview for a nonconference date but the Searcy school opted for a game with Bauxite instead.

GLOWING REVIEW: Former Heber Springs coach Bill Buckner made an appearance on the sidelines on Tuesday night to catch some of the action. Buckner, who has since retired after years of coaching in the area with stops at Quitman, Greenbrier and Vilonia among others, was impressed with what he saw from the Panthers. “Tell the people of Heber Springs that they have a good football team,” he said.

Heber Springs senior quarterback Adam Martin looks to complete a pass against Vilonia in a Arkansas Activities Association benefit game at Phillip D. Weaver Stadium in Vilonia. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

PANTHER DRIVES

OPENING DRIVE: 10 plays, 36 yards. Highlights: Adam Martin 10-yard run, Landon Johnson 14- and 13-yard runs. Result: Turnover on downs.

SECOND DRIVE: 10 plays, 68 yards. Highlights: Adam Martin to Tri Johnson for 34-yard completion. Result: Stopped on fourth-and-goal at the 1.

THIRD DRIVE: 5 plays, 20 yards. Result: Fictional punt.

FOURTH DRIVE: 10 plays, 70 yards: Highlights: Adam Martin to Landon Johnson for 12- and 25-yard pass completions. Result: Touchdown.

INDIVIDUAL STATS (First-half only)

Rushing: Heber Springs, Landon Johnson 8-40; Julie Rubio 5-5; Adam Martin 5-2. Vilonia, Draven Smith 7-43; Seth Kick 1-5; Austin Myers 1-3; Tyler Moran 1-2.

Passing: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 14-24-155-1-0. Vilonia, Austin Myers 9-10-266-3-0.

Receiving: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson 5-84; Landon Johnson 3-45; Matthew Cook 3-13-1; Landon Barbee 1-8; Nathan McKee 1-6; Hunter Kent 1-(-1). Vilonia, Tyler Moran 4-127-1; Jamison Hinsley 2-40-1; Kannon Bartlett 1-45; Draven Smith 1-38; Corbin Watson 1-24-1.

TEAM (First-half only)

Rushing: Heber Springs 18-47; Vilonia 10-53

Passing: Heber Springs, 14-24-155-1-0; Vilonia 9-10-266-3-0

Total Yards: Heber Springs 202, Vilonia 319

First Downs: Heber Springs 11, Vilonia 8

Turnovers: Heber Springs 0, Vilonia 1

Penalties: Heber Springs 1-5; Vilonia 4-50