By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY
MOUNT VERNON – The Heber Springs Panthers finished 2021 strong and built momentum going into 2022.
Heber Springs held the Concord Pirates to four points during the third quarter and pulled away for a 54-36 win and won the Mount Vernon-Enola Holiday Basketball Tournament championship Thursday.
The Panthers (10-5 overall, 1-1 in Conference 4-4A) trailed 9-8 after the first quarter before they rallied for a 19-17 halftime lead and increased it to 34-21 by the end of the third quarter.
Heber Springs reached the 10-win plateau for the first time since the 2015-16 season and won a tournament championship for the first time in more than a decade.
Concord fell to 12-7 on the season.
“They are starting to believe in themselves,” Panther coach Jordan Riley said. “It’s not anything special I’m doing. The players are the reason for the success. They just needed someone who believed in them. I’m proud of their effort, and everything is coming together.”
Riley said getting the 10th win was important.
“It was a milestone that the team wanted to achieve,” he said. “We just need to keep moving forward.”
Ryan Crocker, who finished with 14 points, led the third-quarter charge by scoring six of Heber Springs’ 15 points. Parker Brown led the Panthers with 15 points.
“We did a better job of taking away the things that Concord was doing against our defense during the first half,” said Riley when asked about the second half. “Ryan hit some big shots and gave us separation. Concord has a good team and did a good job attacking our zone defense during the first half. In the second half, we came away with enough rebounds and didn’t give them many second chances.”
The lead changed back and forth during the first quarter. Heber Springs led 8-4 until Concord finished by scoring five unanswered points. Gage Morgan scored on an inside move, and Eli Heigle hit a 3-pointer, giving the Pirates a 9-8 lead going into the second quarter.
The trend continued through the remainder of the first half. Crocker connected on a jumper late in the second quarter as Heber Springs led 19-17 at halftime.
The Panthers outscored the Pirates 35-19 during the second half.
“We didn’t make many shots during the second half,” Concord coach Keith Cornett, who led Heber Springs to the state semifinals during the early 2000s. “Heber should be credited for playing a good 2-3 zone defense. We didn’t take advantage of getting the ball into the post and to players in the corners during the second half. They made shots in the second half, and we didn’t.”
Heber Springs built a 16-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Crocker and point guard Gavin Vaughn (who was selected the tournament’s MVP) went to the bench with four personal fouls. Concord pulled to within seven points before the Panthers finished with a flurry.
“I’m proud of the younger guys who took good care of the ball against Concord’s full-court press and kept the lead,” Riley said. “Once Ryan and Gavin went back into the game, we pulled away. It was a good way to wrap up our non-conference schedule.”
Cornett said the difference in the game came from how Heber Springs played defense during the second half.
“We played okay on defense, but struggle on offense throughout the game,” he said. “We showed fight in the fourth quarter when we reduced Heber’s lead.”
The Panthers will host Morrilton (7-6 overall, 0-1 in Conference 4-4A), led by Razorback signee Joseph Pinion, on Tuesday.
“Morrilton is going to be a tough game, just like the other conference games,” Riley said. “If we can keep playing hard, it will give us a chance for a win every night. Pinion is the best player in the conference.”
Riley said Tuesday’s game will be a challenge for his team.
“We are starting to look like a good basketball team,” he said. “We will do our best to put the guys in the right positions for a chance to win the game.”
Concord 9 8 4 15 -36
Heber Springs 8 11 15 20 -54
CONCORD SCORING (36): Eli Tate 12, Eli Heigle 12, Gage Morgan 9, Dylan Byrd 3.
HEBER SPRINGS SORING (54): Parker Brown 15, Ryan Crocker 14, Gavin Vaughn 9, Eli Riggs 5, J.T. Spears 4, Ladd Choate 3, Adam Winchester 3, Zach Thomas 1.
MOUNT VERNON – Three Lady Bulldogs finished in double figures as Quitman claimed the championship trophy of the Mount Vernon-Enola Holiday Tournament.
Senior Silver Mulliniks led the way with 22 points followed by Taylor Hooten with 16 and Katelyn Black with 10.
Quitman (13-1) trailed for less than 60 seconds on the night. After jumping out to a 5-0 advantage on a 3-pointer by Hooten and a pair of free throws by Mulliniks, Mount Vernon-Enola (19-2) would answer at the 4:39 mark of the first quarter. Baskets by Olivia McClelland, A.J. Person, Jaley Belote and Dessie McCarty would spark an 8-0 run and give the Lady Warhawks an 8-5 lead with 2:41 left in the first quarter.
Mulliniks and Hooten would close out the quarter with 3-pointers for Quitman as the Lady Bulldogs led 11-8.
Quitman would hit 10 3-pointers on the night and Black would drill one of those for the Lady Bulldogs to make it a 15-8 contest with 6:47 left before the half.
Mount Vernon-Enola would pull within one at 14-13 at the 2:30 point of the second quarter after a Ally Mendoza 3-pointer, but Hooten would answer on the other end with a 3-pointer of her own to push Quitman’s advantage back to four points.
After leading 20-16 at the break, McCarty would pull the Lady Warhawks back to within two points at 20-18 with 7:14 to play in the third quarter, but Hooten would hit a 3-pointer, a pair of free throws and a field goal over the next 1:14 to push the Lady Bulldogs advantage to nine at 27-18.
Mount Vernon-Enola would make it a six-point game twice the rest of the way. The first time at 34-28 with 1:56 left in the third quarter after a McClelland basket and the last time with 7:06 left in the contest after a three-point play by McClelland made it 41-35.
Quitman would close the contest on a 12-4 run as Mulliniks had 8 during that stretch.
Hooten finished with four 3-points on the night and Mulliniks had three.
Quitman returns to conference action on Monday, Jan. 10, at Bigelow.
With only one senior and one junior on the roster, all of the scoring for Mount Vernon-Enola was handled by sophomores, led by McCarty’s 14 points.
The Warhawks will face Wonderview in conference play on Friday (Jan. 7).
MOUNT VERNON-ENOLA SCORING (43): Marlee Raby 7, A.J. Person 4, Dessie McCarty 14, Jaley Belote 2, Olivia McClelland 8, Ally Mendoza 8
QUITMAN SCORING (58): Silver Mulliniks 22, Emi Kennedy 5, Jadie Langston 1, Katelyn Black 10, Taylor Hooten 16, Macy Broadway 2, Cailyn Sullivan 2
MOUNT VERNON-ENOLA HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT at Mount Vernon-Enola High School SENIOR GIRLS December 28th Game 1 - Mount Vernon-Enola vs. Concord (10 a.m.) Game 3 - Morrilton Sacred Heart vs. Conway Christian (12:30 p.m.) Game 5 - Heber Springs vs. Nemo Vista (3 p.m.) Game 7 - Quitman vs. Midland (5:30 p.m.) December 29th Game 9 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 5 (10 a.m.) Game 11 - Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 7 (12:30 p.m.) Game 13 - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 7 (3 p.m.) Game 15 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 5 (5:30 p.m.) December 30th Game 17 - Loser Game 9 vs. Loser Game 11 (10 a.m.) Game 19 - Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 11 (12:30 p.m.) Game 21 - Loser Game 13 vs. Loser Game 15 (3 p.m.) Game 23 - Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 15 (5:30 p.m.) SENIOR BOYS December 28th Game 2 - Concord vs. Morrilton Sacred Heart (11:15 a.m.) Game 4 - Nemo Vista vs. Conway Christian (1:45 p.m.) Game 6 - Heber Springs vs. Quitman (4:15 p.m.) Game 8 - Mount Vernon-Enola vs. Midland (6:45 p.m.) December 29th Game 10 - Loser Game 6 vs. Loser Game 8 (11:15 a.m.) Game 12 - Loser Game 2 vs. Loser Game 4 (1:45 p.m.) Game 14 - Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 4 (4:15 p.m. Game 16 - Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 8 (6:45 p.m.) December 30th Game 18 - Loser Game 10 vs. Loser Game 12 (11:15 a.m.) Game 20 - Winner Game 10 vs. Winner Game 12 (1:45 p.m.) Game 22 - Loser Game 14 vs. Loser Game 16 (4:15 p.m.) Game 24 - Winner Game 14 vs. Winner Game 16 (6:45 p.m.)
By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY
Senior Ryan Crocker and junior Gavin Vaughn led a 9-0 scoring run late in the fourth quarter as the Heber Springs Panthers stopped a two-game losing skid by rallying past South Side Bee Branch 41-38 in a nonconference basketball game at the Panther Den on Tuesday.
The Panthers (0-1 in 4-4A, 5-4 overall) returned above .500 on the season before Friday’s 4-4A conference game at Ozark (4-6, 0-0 in the 4-4A).
Vaughn led the Panthers with 12 points, including two 3-pointers. Eli Riggs and J.T. Spears each made two 3-pointers. Crocker also had a 3-pointer.
Former Panther Conner Riddle was the leading scorer for Southside (10-11) with 15 points, including two 3-pointers.
“Ryan did a good job, especially on defense,” Heber Springs coach Jordan Riley said. “He contested shots around the rim and rebounded well. Galvin has come a long way. He is beginning to figure things out, running the show and getting the ball to the right spots.”
The Hornets claimed the lead on a 7-2 scoring run late in the fourth quarter. Riddle’s 3-pointer increased the Hornets’ lead to 35-30 with 3:42 left in the fourth quarter. Heber Springs started its final scoring surge after Crocker’s block of Reese Beaudin’s baseline jumper.
The defensive play resulted into a 3-pointer by Vaughn from the right wing with 3:22 left in the game. After a defensive stop, Crocker connected from behind the arc, giving the Panthers a 36-35 lead with 1:42 to go.
Vaughn converted two free throws and Brown added 1-of-2 for a 39-35 lead with 23 seconds remaining. The lead increased to six points after Riggs and Vaughn each sank 1-of-2 free throws.
South Side’s Whitt Holland hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
“We had two close losses (Benton Harmony Grove and Subiaco Academy) and needed to win and did it,” Riley said. “We came up with a turnover (Crocker’s blocked shot) and made a three to take the lead. We held on for the remainder of the game.”
Riggs, Spears and Brown each made field goals for a 6-0 Heber Springs lead early in the first quarter. Beaudin and Riddle each scored baskets, but the Panthers scored the next five points for an 11-4 lead going into the second quarter.
Riggs connected on a 3-point jumper for the largest lead of the game, 16-8. The Hornets finished with a 7-0 run, capped by Holland’s 3-pointer as Heber Springs led 16-15 at halftime.
The lead changed four times during the third quarter. South Side led 24-20 before Brown led the Panther charge late in the quarter with two free throws, and Spears hit a 3-pointer for a 25-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“J.T. stepped up and made two big shots (3-pointers),” Riley said. “I’m proud of the way we adjusted during the second half. Offensively, we had too many turnovers during the first half that caused problems. We started to play the right way during the second half and got the job done.”
Riley said the win will give his team confidence going into Friday’s game at Ozark as well as the second half of the season.
“If we can reduce turnovers and make free throws better, we have a chance for a good season,” he said. “We were two possessions away from being 7-2. I feel good where the team is right now. This win will give us confidence. I hope it also gets the players believing in themselves more. That will help put us on the right track.”
Southside Bee Branch 4 11 9 14--38 Heber Springs 11 5 9 16--41 SOUTH SIDE BEE BRANCH SCORING (38): Conner Riddle 15, Reese Beaudin 9, Whitt Holland 6, Nathan Emmart 6, Tyler Sullivan 2. HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (41): Gavin Vaughn 12, Eli Riggs 9, J.T. Spears 8, Parker Brown 7, Ryan Crocker 5.
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HEBER SPRINGS SENIOR BOYS 2021-2022 (Click on a game for previous details) (Record: 5-4, 4-4A Conference: 0-1) Nov. 18 Heber Springs 43, Bald Knob 37 Nov. 22 Guy-Perkins 54, Heber Springs 39 Nov. 23 Heber Springs 46, Shirley 34 Nov. 29 Conway St. Joseph 37, Heber Springs 30 + Dec. 02 Heber Springs 43, Mayflower 41 + Dec. 04 Heber Springs 36, South Side Bee Branch 25 + Dec. 07 Benton Harmony Grove 31, Heber Springs 29 Dec. 10 Subiaco Academy 43, Heber Springs 40 * Dec. 14 Heber Springs 41, South Side Bee Branch 38 Dec. 17 at Ozark (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Dec. 20 at Lonoke (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. Dec. 21 at Des Arc (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. Dec. 28-30 at Mount Vernon-Enola Tournament (SG, SB) Jan. 04 Morrilton (SGJV, SBJV, SG, SB), 6 p.m. * Jan. 07 at Dardanelle (JG, JB. SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Jan. 11 at Clarksville (SBJV, SG, SB), 5 p.m. * Jan. 14 Pottsville (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Jan. 21 Ozark (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Jan. 25 at Morrilton (SGJB, SBJB, SG, SB), 6 p.m. * Jan. 28 at Subiaco Academy (JB, SB), 5 p.m. Feb. 01 Dardanelle (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. Feb. 03 Clarksville (SBJV, SG, SB), 5 p.m. * Feb. 08 at Pottsville (SGJV, SG, SB), 6 p.m. * Feb. 14 District Tournament at Subiaco Academy ( + - Denotes Conway St. Joseph Tournament)
HEBER SPRINGS – South Side Bee Branch’s final 12 points all came from the free-throw line as the Hornets held off Heber Springs, 44-36, in nonconference senior girls action at the Panther Den.
The win by South Side Bee Branch avenged a 47-41 victory by Heber Springs on Dec. 4 on a neutral court in Conway.
On Tuesday, a cold second quarter doomed the Panthers (8-2) as they were outscored 12-4 in the stanza to trail at the half 18-11.
Heber Springs, which trailed 26-18 at the end of the third, went on an 8-1 run midway through the fourth quarter to pull within three at 29-26 after a 3-pointer by Sophie Stone and a three-point play by Jaylea Hooten with 4:11 left.
After a pair of free throws by South Side’s Jewel Walley, the Panthers would make it a 2-point game at 31-29 with three minutes left. Stone would hit the front end of a one-and-one while Hooten would stick the rebound back up for two.
Brinkley Smith would have an answer for the Hornets on their next possession when she drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to make 34-29.
From that point on, South Side Bee Branch (10-10) would hit 12-of-14 over the final 2:08 to hold on for the win.
On the night, the Hornets hit 21-of-25 (84 percent) while Heber Springs was 1o-of-17 (58.5 percent).
Hooten led all scorers with 19 points.
Heber Springs will open conference play Friday night at Ozark (7-3).
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (36): Madison Clemons 1, Jaylea Hooten 19, Addison Hudspeth 4, Sophie Stone 7, Savannah Stout 3, Molly Smith 2
SOUTH SIDE BEE BRANCH SCORING (44): Erin Holland 2, Brinkley Smith 7, Marli Huddleston 4, Mollie Leonard 7, Jewel Walley 8, Emily Walley 13, Maggie Bradford 2, Emily Thomas 3
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HEBER SPRINGS SENIOR GIRLS 2021-2022 SCHEDULE AND RESULTS (Click on a game for previous details) (Record: 8-2, 4-4A Conference: 0-0) Nov. 09 Heber Springs 53, Mount St. Mary 42 Nov. 15 Heber Springs 59, Newport 44 Nov. 18 Heber Springs 46, Bald Knob 33 Nov. 22 Heber Springs 55, Guy-Perkins 43 Nov. 23 Heber Springs 60, Shirley 20 Nov. 29 Mayflower 61, Heber Springs 25 + Dec. 02 Heber Springs 45, Conway St. Joseph 44 + Dec. 04 Heber Springs 47, South Side Bee Branch 41 + Dec. 07 Heber Springs 49, Benton Harmony Grove 43 Dec. 14 South Side Bee Branch 44, Heber Springs 36 Dec. 17 at Ozark (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Dec. 20 at Lonoke (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. Dec. 21 at Des Arc (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. Dec. 28-30 at Mount Vernon-Enola Tournament (SG, SB) Jan. 04 Morrilton (SGJV, SBJV, SG, SB), 6 p.m. * Jan. 07 at Dardanelle (JG, JB. SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Jan. 11 at Clarksville (SBJV, SG, SB), 5 p.m. * Jan. 14 Pottsville (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Jan. 21 Ozark (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Jan. 25 at Morrilton (SGJB, SBJB, SG, SB), 6 p.m. * Feb. 01 Dardanelle (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. Feb. 03 Clarksville (SBJV, SG, SB), 5 p.m. * Feb. 08 at Pottsville (SGJV, SG, SB), 6 p.m. * Feb. 14 District Tournament at Subiaco Academy (+ - Conway St. Joseph Tournament)
HEBER SPRINGS – Heber Springs led throughout most of its 4-4A opener with Subiaco Academy, but that was not enough as the Trojans downed the Panthers, 43-40, Friday night at the Panther Den.
Neither team came out sharp as Heber Springs’ Ryan Crocker hit a short jumper with 3:04 to play in the opener quarter for the game’s first field goal. Crocker would hit another jumper right before the end of the quarter to make it 5-3 contest in favor of the Panthers.
A pair of Parker Brown baskets and Gavin Vaughn 3-pointers made it 15-7 for Heber Springs with 3:33 to play before the half.
The two teams traded 3-pointers (Crocker for Heber Springs and Ivan Martijin for Subiaco) over the next two minutes, before a basket by Subiaco Academy’s Jonathan Mecera made it a 18-12 contest at the half.
Heber Springs would again enjoy an 8-point advantage, it’s largest of the night, after Vaughn hit another 3-points and a pair of free throws to make it 25-17 with 2:04 left in the third quarter.
From there, the Panthers struggled to knock down a shot as a J.T. Spears’ basket at the 6:28 mark of the final quarter would be the only field goal Heber Springs would have until a Vaughn steal and lay-up with 3:37 left made it 36-33.
Vaughn’s points capped a 5-0 run after the Trojans garnered their first lead of the night at 33-31 on Mecera basket with 4:27 to play.
The game would be tight throughout the final three minutes with ties and three lead changes.
Brown’s basket with just over minute to play would tie the game up at 39-all before Martijin hit a field goal with 31 seconds left to give Subiaco a 41-39 lead.
Heber Springs worked the clock down to 10 seconds before Vaughn drew a foul. The junior hit one-of-two to make a 1-point game at 41-40.
After a quick foul and pair of made throws by the Trojans, both teams would turn the ball over the next eight seconds. The Panthers would get one final attempt to send the game into overtime with 1.9 seconds left, but the shot would be short.
Subiaco Academy improved to 5-3 overall and 2-0 in the 4-4A, while Heber Springs fell to 4-4 overall an 0-1 in conference.
Vaughn finished with 17 points for the Panthers while Crocker had 12.
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (40): Gavin Vaughn 17, Ryan Crocker 12, J.T. Spears 3, Parker Brown 8
SUBIACO ACADEMY SCORING (43): Jonathan Mercera 17, Ivan Martijin 12, Jaeden Nievald 1, Justin Luidens 3, Hasten King 8, Emre Gurel 2.
HEBER SPRINGS SENIOR BOYS 2021-2022 (Click on a game for previous details) (Record: 4-4, 4-4A Conference: 0-1) Nov. 18 Heber Springs 43, Bald Knob 37 Nov. 22 Guy-Perkins 54, Heber Springs 39 Nov. 23 Heber Springs 46, Shirley 34 Nov. 29 Conway St. Joseph 37, Heber Springs 30 + Dec. 02 Heber Springs 43, Mayflower 41 + Dec. 04 Heber Springs 36, South Side Bee Branch 25 + Dec. 07 Benton Harmony Grove 31, Heber Springs 29 Dec. 10 Subiaco Academy 43, Heber Springs 40 * Dec. 14 South Side Bee Branch (JG, SG, SB), 5 p.m. Dec. 17 at Ozark (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Dec. 20 at Lonoke (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. Dec. 21 at Des Arc (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. Dec. 28-30 at Mount Vernon-Enola Tournament (SG, SB) Jan. 04 Morrilton (SGJV, SBJV, SG, SB), 6 p.m. * Jan. 07 at Dardanelle (JG, JB. SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Jan. 11 at Clarksville (SBJV, SG, SB), 5 p.m. * Jan. 14 Pottsville (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Jan. 21 Ozark (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. * Jan. 25 at Morrilton (SGJB, SBJB, SG, SB), 6 p.m. * Jan. 28 at Subiaco Academy (JB, SB), 5 p.m. Feb. 01 Dardanelle (JG, JB, SG, SB), 4 p.m. Feb. 03 Clarksville (SBJV, SG, SB), 5 p.m. * Feb. 08 at Pottsville (SGJV, SG, SB), 6 p.m. * Feb. 14 District Tournament at Subiaco Academy ( + - Denotes Conway St. Joseph Tournament)
HEBER SPRINGS – Heber Springs raced out to a 23-6 first-half advantage and didn’t look back as the Panthers opened conference play with a 39-21 victory over Subiaco Academy at the Panther Den.
Heber Springs, which led 12-4 at the end of the first quarter and 38-13 at the end of the third quarter, got 8 points from Weston Warden — all in the first quarter.
Warden was among 10 Panthers who scored in the contest.
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (39): Weston Warden 8, Jude Herring 4, Liam Buffalo 6, Jacob Harrod 2, Ty West 2, Josiah Riggs 7, Seth Dudeck 5, Samuel Bush 2, Maddox Shumate 1, Nash Farmer 2
SUBIACO ACADEMY SCORING (21): Grist 3, Tarmo 5, Schmitz 8, Wu 3, George 2
2021-2022 SCHEDULE AND RESULTS
OVERALL RECORD: 6-3
4A-4 CONFERENCE: 1-0
(For past write-up click on game)
Nov. 11 Heber Springs 40, Mount Vernon-Enola 35
Nov. 18 Bald Knob 41, Heber Springs 33
Nov. 22 Heber Springs 45, Guy-Perkins 8
Nov. 23 Heber Springs 65, Shirley 35
Nov. 30 Southside Batesville 31, Heber Springs 29
Dec. 01 Heber Springs 45, Pangburn 33
Dec. 06 Cedar Ridge 41, Heber Springs 37
Dec. 09 Heber Springs 45, Rose Bud 22
Dec. 10 Heber Springs 39, Subiaco Academy 21 *
Dec. 17 at Ozark *
Dec. 20 at Lonoke
Dec. 21 at Des Arc
Jan. 06 at South Side Bee Branch
Jan. 07 at Dardanelle *
Jan. 13 White County Central
Jan. 14 Pottsville *
Jan. 21 Ozark *
Jan. 24 at Mayflower
Jan. 27 Bradford
Jan. 28 at Subiaco Academy *
Feb. 01 Dardanelle *
Feb. 03 at Pottsville *
Feb. 05 District Tournament at Dardanelle
(* – Denotes conference contest)