SUBIACO – The Heber Springs Lady Panthers didn’t go away without a fight against Dardanelle in Tuesday’s quarterfinal game at the 4-4A Conference Basketball Tournament.
Dardanelle (8-10) went on a 13-3 scoring run, beginning with one minute left in the third quarter to 3:45 remaining in the game, and defeated the Lady Panthers 46-36.
Heber Springs, which lost its 12 consecutive game, finished the season at 10-15. The Lady Panthers’ last win came against Nemo Vista at the Mount Vernon-Enola Holiday Tournament in late December.
Jaylea Hooten and Addison Hudspeth led Heber Springs each with eight points. Hudspeth and Savannah Stout each made two 3-pointers. Hope Turney and Madison Clemons each had a 3-pointer.
Karlie Cursh scored a game high 17 points for Dardanelle. Bethani Walter contributed nine points.
The Lady Sand Lizards led throughout the first half with a 4-2 lead after the first quarter and 17-12 at halftime.
But momentum shifted to the Lady Panthers early during the third quarter. Stroud hit back-to-back 3-pointers for an 18-17 lead. Dardanelle regained the lead on two free throws by Cursh. Heber Springs then recaptured the lead on Hudspeth’s 3-pointer.
The Lady Sand Lizards pulled within one and later took the lead for good on Grace McIntyre’s 3-pointer with one minute to go in the third quarter.
Savannah Williams scored during closing seconds for a 29-25 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Dardanelle put the game away by completing the 13-3 scoring run and led by as much as 15 points, 46-31, with 48 seconds left.
Heber Springs 2 10 13 11 –36 Dardanelle 4 13 12 17–46 HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (36): Jaylea Hooten 8, Addison Hudspeth 8, Savannah Stout 6, Molly Smith 4, Sophie Stone 4, Madison Clemons 3, Hope Turney 3. DARDANELLE SCORING (46): Karlie Cursh 17, Bethani Walter 9, Grace McIntyre 6, Jayden Vazquez 6, Savannah Williams 4, Audry Rowan 2, Elizabeth Earnest 2.
One of the most successful basketball seasons for the Heber Springs Panthers in recent years came to a disappointing end on Saturday.
Ozark (7-18), which lost twice to the Panthers during the regular season, led from start to finish in a 38-20 win at the Panther Den in the play-in game for the 4-4A Conference tournament.
The Panthers (13-13) had the program’s best season record since the 2013-14 campaign when they finished at 18-9.
Heber Springs also showed more signs of progress by winning a tournament title (Mount Vernon-Enola Holiday Tournament) and four conference games. The Panthers had one conference win during the previous two seasons.
“I’m proud how the players brought into what I wanted them to do from the beginning of the year to the end,” Heber Springs first-year head coach Jordan Riley said. “We improved in a lot of areas. This was not how we wanted to end the season, but we did avoid a losing record. Before the season, most people didn’t feel we could do that”
Riley had been the former head girls coach at Southside Batesville for two years and rebuilt the program into a contender before taking over the Heber Springs program. Southside was 25-1 this season and won the 3-4A Conference championship going into postseason play. Riley never hesitated when the opportunity came to coach at Heber Springs.
“A lot of coaches thought I was crazy to leave a good team at Southside and come to Heber Springs,” he said. “I believe Heber Springs is where I’m suppose to be.”
At Saturday’s game, Braeson Peters, who made three 3-pointers, led Ozark with 13 points. Landon Wright, who connected twice on 3-point shots, scored eight points. Kyle Archer, who made one 3-pointer, had seven points. Jace Richard also had a 3-pointer.
“Ozark had players who made big shots,” Riley said. “Peters didn’t score in the first two games against us and made three 3-pointers. Our plan was to make players other than Wright and (Kayden) McAnally beat us. We did a good job guarding those two players (Wright and McAnally), but other players were making shots. Even as well as Ozark shot, we still held them to 38 points. We felt if we did that, we would have had a chance to win.”
Heber Springs struggled most of the game on offense and held to six field goals. The Panthers played catchup throughout the game and scored four points during the first half. Ryan Crocker, who made the team’s only 3-pointer, led with nine points.
“Ozark deserves a lot of credit for the way it played defense,” Riley said. “The 2-3 zone made it tough on us. We couldn’t dribble and create good shots against the zone. It was one of our worst shooting games of the year. Offensively, it was a tough game.”
Ozark’s Eli Masingale started the game with a field goal, followed by a 3-pointer by Wright for a 5-0 lead. Parker Brown scored the only points of the first quarter for the Panthers on an inside move. The Hillbillies scored the next eight points and took a 13-2 lead into the second quarter.
Ozark increased its lead on 3-pointers by Archer and Richard. Crocker stopped the surge by hitting a jumper as Heber Springs trailed, 19-5. Peters mad two free throws, giving the Hillbillies a 21-4 halftime lead.
Gavin Vaughn sank two free throws and a field goal by Crocket gave the Panthers a bit of life early during the third quarter. Ozark finished on a 7-1 scoring run and led 28-9 going into the fourth quarter.
“The loss hurt against a team we had defeated twice,” Riley said. “I felt we were going to win the game and move on in postseason.”
Despite the season-ending loss, Riley said the program made progress, and he hopes to keep everything going next season.
“I believe the guys will continue to work and keep improving,” he said. “We won one tournament during our best stretch of games. I thought that was going to give us momentum coming out of the Christmas break. We were unable to carry it forward.”
Riley said players will realize the good points from the season in the near future before turning their focus to next season.
“Coaches must make sure the players keep improving in the right areas and do what is best to move forward,” he said. “We will miss Ryan and Zach (Thomas). Zach came off the bench and provided leadership needed for the younger players. We have five of the top seven players coming back, plus younger players who are coming.”
Ozark 13 8 7 10 -38 Heber Springs 2 2 5 11 -20 OZARK SCORING (38): Braeson Peters 13, Landon Wright 8, Kyle Archer 7, Eli Masingale 4, Kayden McAnally 3, Jace Richard 3. HEBER SPRING SCORING (20): Ryan Crocker 9, Ladd Choate 4, Zach Thomas 3, Gavin Vaughn 2, Parker Brown 2.
Junior J.T. Spears turned in two pivotal second-half plays, one on offense and other on defense, and switched the momentum to the Heber Springs Panthers against Clarksville at the Panther Den on Saturday.
Heber Springs went on a 20-9 scoring run starting with 6:42 left in the third quarter before taking lead with 4:06 left in the game, and defeated Clarksville 54-49 in a Conference 4-4A basketball game.
Clarksville led Heber Springs 35-25 with 6:42 left in the third quarter. The key defensive play came when Spears drew a charge from Owen Ashlock with 2:42 to go as Clarksville led, 36-34. Spears gave Heber Springs the lead with 4:06 left in the game when he made a 3-pointer, 45-44.
Braxton Payne led Clarksville with 17 points, followed by Bush, who had 15 points, all of 3-pointers. Ashlock contributed 11 points.
“From the middle of the third quarter, we started to do a better job defensively,” Heber Springs coach Jordan Riley said. “No. 33 (Ashlock) and No. 3 (Bush) are good players and were hard to stop in the first half.”
The win kept Heber Springs (4-7 in Conference 4-4A, 13-11 overall) in position to avoid a play-in game for the conference tournament. Heber Springs will play at Pottsville on Tuesday in the regular season finale. Pottsville (3-7 in Conference 4-4A, 9-13 overall) and Heber Springs are tied in the loss column for fifth place. A win on Tuesday assures the Panthers of avoiding the play-in game.
Pottsville will end the regular season against Ozark at home on Friday. Clarksville (5-6 in Conference 4-4A, 10-12) is currently one game ahead of the Panthers in fourth place. A Clarksville loss to Morrilton at home on Friday would give the No. 4 seed to Heber Springs.
Gavin Vaughn, who hit three 3-pointers, scored 17 points for Heber Springs. Parker Brown added 16 points, 12 coming during the first half, and Ryan Crocker, who made two 3-pointers, had 14 points.
“I’m proud of how the guys worked throughout the game,” said Jordan when asked about his team’s comeback. “I kept telling them we can’t take any plays off or time to rest until the game was over. They made the right adjustments and answered the call. J.T. got us going when he took the charge and when hit made the 3-pointer.”
Heber Springs had struggled offensively by scoring 46 points combined in the last two games. Riley said contributions of more than one or two players were the keys to Saturday’s win.
“I was glad to see that,” Riley said. “That is what it is going to take because we can’t have just one or two guys doing it all. We had been struggling scoring and been too much one dimensional in recent games. Parker has been one of our most consistent players on offense throughout the year. We need Gavin, Ryan and J.T, as well as others to contribute on offense. Eli (Riggs) and Ladd (Choate) are capable of making big shots. We got to get all of the players involved to play winning basketball.”
Clarksville led 17-14 after the first quarter and increased it to 31-25 by half. Heber Springs trailed 41-36 going into the fourth quarter.
Riggs made one of the game’s biggest shots when he sank a layup for a 51-46 lead with 11 seconds left. Payne drew a foul on a 3-point attempt and made the free throws with five seconds to go. On the inbound pass after a timeout, Crocker threw deep to Brown, who caught the pass and drew an intentional foul with 3.6 seconds remaining.
Vaughn hit a 3-pointer from the deep corner at the buzzer.
“It sets up a big game at Pottsville,” Riley said. “We had two more big plays at the end of this game, especially the long pass. We showed already this season that we are capable of beating any team in the league. That makes the other teams feel a little nervous about playing Heber Springs.”
HEBER SPRINGS – Clarksville hit a pair of 3-pointers late in the first quarter and didn’t look back in downing Heber Springs, 47-30, in 4-4A senior girls play.
A Jaylea Hooten free throw for Heber Springs made it a one-point game at 5-4 in favor of Clarksville with 2:11 left in the opening quarter, but Clarksville’s Macy Weathers hit 3-pointers with 1:08 left and at the first-quarter buzzer to make it an 11-4 contest.
Heber Springs (10-13 overall, 0-9 in 4-4A) cut the deficit to under 10 points twice in the second quarter. An Emily Fuller 3-pointer at the 5:59 mark made it 14-7 and a Hooten three-point play with 1:01 left in the half cut the Clarksville (8-13, 5-4) lead to 9 at 21-12. But the visiting Panthers, again hit a pair of 3-pointers to close out the quarter with a 27-12 halftime lead.
Fuller paced Heber Springs with 8 points while Clarksville’s Kenleigh Rieder led all scorers with 14 points. The visiting Panthers led 38-19 at the end of three quarters.
Heber Springs travels to Pottsville Tuesday for its regular-season finale.
Heber Springs coach Jordan Riley issued a challenge to the Panthers minutes following Tuesday’s 48-25 loss to Dardanelle at the Panther Den.
Despite the loss, the Panthers (3-7 in Conference 4-4A, 12-11 overall), trail fifth-place Pottsville (3-6 in Conference 4-4A, 9-12 overall) by one-half game. Heber Springs has two games remaining during the regular season, while the Apaches have three games left.
Heber Springs will host Clarksville (5-5 in Conference 4-4A, 10-11 overall) at 2 p.m. Saturday and play at Pottsville on Tuesday. Pottsville will play at Morrilton on Friday, with home games against Panthers on Feb. 8 and Ozark on Feb. 11.
The fifth-place team will avoid playing a play-in game at the conference tournament.
“We have a lot of basketball left to play,” Riley said. “It’s up to the players how this team will be defined after the season ends. The team already exceeded most expectations (of fans). They either will fizzle out or work hard and improve on offense and defense. Hopefully, we will fight, battle and finish the season strong.”
Braden Tanner scored a game-high 21 points for Dardanelle (7-3 in Conference 4-4A, 14-7 overall). Robert Millard contributed 11 points. Gavin Vaughn led Heber Springs with seven points.
“Dardanelle did a good job of keeping us on the from the middle of the court,” Riley said. “We were able to keep the ball in the middle of the floor and created more room for passes in the first game (a 45-42 loss at Dardanelle). We didn’t do a very good job of protecting the ball in (Tuesday’s) the game and shot poorly for the second straight game.”
Parker Brown opened the game by converting a short jumper to give Heber Springs its only the lead during the game. Tanner made a 3-pointer and Chase Jordan’s jumper and started a 17-4 run by the Sand Lizards. Brown scored again and Eli Riggs had a field goal, but Dardanelle maintained control and built a 17-6 lead going into the second quarter.
The Sand Lizards pulled away with a 10-3 second quarter scoring run and for a 27-9 halftime lead. Dardanelle took a 38-16 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Riley planned extra work on offense for Friday’s game against Clarksville. The Panthers scored 46 points in two games this week.
“You can’t win games when scoring in the 20s,” he said. “We were taking good shots, but didn’t make many. We will work on improving what we had been doing on offense.
Riley said the plan was to put pressure on Dardanelle’s two shooters (Tanner and Millard, who combined for six 3-pointers 32 of the 48 points. “We let those two guys loose on the perimeter and make multiple 3’s,” Riley said. “We dug a deep hole for ourselves. We played better defense during the second half, but it’s tough when you are down by 18 points.”
Riley expects his team to accept his challenge, starting with Clarksville.
“Clarksville is playing well,” he said. “We will be ready to defend the Den and win. We need to win the next two games for a better tournament seed. I hope that is how the team will be defined during the remainder of the season, a team which fought until the end.”
HEBER SPRINGS – Dardanelle outscored Heber Springs 21-7 in the second half and cruised to a 41-24 4-4A victory over the Panthers in senior girls play at the Panther Den.
Dardanelle (6-10 overall, 5-4 in the 4-4A) led 20-17 at the half and got 10 points from Karlie Cursh in the third quarter to take a 30-21 lead into the final stanza.
Heber Springs (10-12,0-8) was held scoreless in the third quarter before a Madison Clemons free throw with 2:32 to play in the quarter.
With the loss, the Panthers can do no better than a six seed in the upcoming district tournament at Subiaco Academy. However, with only six teams in the conference, Heber Springs will only need one win to qualify for the regional tournament at Farmington.
The Panthers will play their final home game on Saturday at the Panther Den against Clarksville. The senior boys tip things off at 2 p.m. followed by the senior girls contest.
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (24): Jaylea Hooten 9, Sophia Stone 11, Molly Smith 3, Madison Clemons 1.
DARDANELLE SCORING (41): Karlie Cursh 17, Grace McIntyre 3, Savannah Williams 3, Audry Rowan 4, Bethani Walter 12, Elizabeth Earnest 2.
The Heber Springs Panthers started fast, but scored only 10 points during the final three quarters and fell to Pottsville in a Conference 4-4A basketball game at the Panther Den on Monday.
Heber Springs (3-6 in Conference 4-4A, 12-10 overall) led 11-8 after the first quarter. Pottsville built an 8-5 lead before the Panthers responded with six unanswered points, all scored by Parker Brown, for an 11-8 lead going into the second quarter.
Pottsville (3-6 in Conference 4-4A, 9-12 overall) scored the next five points to seize control and finished with a 9-3 scoring run for the 22-14 halftime lead. The Apaches put the game away by outscoring Heber Springs 17-4 and took a 39-18 advantage into the fourth quarter.
The win moved the Apaches into a tie for fifth place with Heber Springs. Landon Stanley, who made six 3-pointers, led Pottsville with 24 points. Parker Brown scored 13 points for the Panthers.
“The big difference was how Pottsville shot the basketball well, and we didn’t shoot well,” Heber Springs coach Jordan Riley said. “It’s difficult to beat a team that shoots that well. We settled for stuff on offense too much and that led to poor shooting. Pottsville showed patience and executed on offense. It was a rough night on both ends of the court.”
Ryan Crocker, who was held to two points, played until late in the fourth quarter with a badly sprained ankle. Crocker suffered the injury during Friday’s shoot-around. He led the defense with two blocked shots.
“I’m proud of Ryan for playing even though he was not 100 percent,” Riley said. “We are a better team when he is on the floor. Hopefully, he will get healthy, but it will be difficult with three games this week. We will do the best we can.”
The Apaches had eight 3-pointers, which didn’t catch Riley by surprise.
“Pottsville had been shooting well from three, especially Stanley,” he said. “At times, we contested shots, but not tight enough. We never made the adjustments to keep him (Stanley) from making those shots.”
Heber Springs will look to rebound at home against Dardanelle (6-3 in Conference 4-4A, 13-7 overall) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“It will be a tough game against Dardanelle, which is one of the top teams in the league,” Riley said. “We just have to battle through adversity and protect the homecourt. We need to win at least two more games to keep out of the play-in game for the conference tournament. Wherever we land, we will be ready to battle and give it our best shot.”
The Panthers’ final home game will be against Clarksville on Friday, with the regular season finale at Pottsville on Feb. 8.
Pottsville 8 14 17 5-44 Heber Springs 11 3 4 3 -21POTTSVILLE SCORING (44): Landon Stanley 24, Jackson Furrh 7, Trevor Lyles 5, Nico Ybarra 4, Landon Martin 2, Carson Palmer 2. HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (21): Parker Brown 13, Ladd Choate 3, Eli Riggs 3, Ryan Crocker 2.
HEBER SPRINGS – Pottsville blew open a close game in the third quarter to down Heber Springs, 45-27, in 4-4A senior girls action Monday night at the Panther Den.
Heber Springs (10-11 overall) remains winless in 4-4A play (0-7) and have not won a game since a 45-39 victory over Nemo Vista on Dec. 28 at the Mount Vernon-Enola tournament.
For Pottsville, the Apaches improved to 13-6 overall and more importantly kept pace with Morrilton for a share a of the conference lead at 6-1 in the 4-4A.
Monday night it was close for two quarters as Pottsville led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter and the Panthers managed to tie things up at 13-all at the half after a Hope Turney 3-pointer.
Pottsville opened the second half with a 5-0 run before Savannah Stout hit a jumper to make it 18-15 with 5:23 left in the third quarter.
A 10-0 run by the Apaches made it 28-15 at the 3:00 mark of the third quarter. A pair of Molly Smith free throws stopped the bleeding, but Pottsville would manage a 31-17 advantage at the end of three quarters.
Heber Springs returns to action Tuesday when they host Dardanelle (5-10, 4-4) at the Panther Den.
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (27): Hope Turney 3, Jaylea Hooten 8, Addison Hudspeth 3, Molly Smith 5, Savannah Stout 2, Madison Clemons 3, Sophia Stone 3.
POTTSVILLE SCORING (45): Rilee Underwood 11, Rylie Boley 6, Lindsey Aday 13, Layla Stroud 11, Tori Daniel 2, Annleigh Pennington 2
The Heber Springs Panthers made the plays during the final two minutes and completed the season sweep of the Ozark Hillbillies 39-36 in a 4-4A conference basketball game at the Panther Den Friday.
Gavin Vaughn, who scored a game-high 17 points, made a 3-pointer with 3:12 left to give the Panthers a 37-36 lead. Kayden McAnally’s 3-pointer had put Ozark ahead 36-34 with 4:11 remaining. Heber Springs sophomore Eli Riggs made 2-of-4 free throws during the final minute.
Landon Wright missed a 3-pointer for the Hillbillies, which would have sent the game into overtime, with two seconds to play. The win was the first against a conference team at home since defeating Subiaco Academy during the 2017-18 season.
Earlier this season, the Panthers won 38-36 in overtime at Ozark.
“The conference has been super competitive every game,” Heber Springs coach Jordan Riley said. “Ozark beat Subiaco (Academy), which then turned around and beat Dardanelle. Pottsville got its first conference win the other night. Every game matters at this point. We are in the mix for one of the two automatic berths to the regional tournament.”
Heber Springs (3-3 in conference, 12-7 overall) currently is in fourth place, one half game behind Subiaco Academy (4-3 in conference, 10-6 overall) and one game ahead of Clarksville (3-4 in conference, 8-10 overall). Dardanelle (5-1 in conference, 12-5 overall) and Morrilton (5-1 in conference, 12-6 overall) are tied for the conference lead.
The top four teams during the regular season will earn first-round byes for the conference tournament. The regular-season champion and runner-up automatically will qualify for the regional tournament.
The 12 wins is the most by the program in a single season since it won that many games during the 2015-16 season.
“We missed two free throws late, but Eli came through by making two and gave us the 3-point lead,” Riley said. “We did a good job of contesting shots. We came up with enough stops at the end of the game to win.”
Vaughan made five of Heber Springs’ seven 3-pointers. Ozark had six 3-pointers, led by McAnally and Tanner Bailie. The Hillbillies converted 9-of-12 attempts at the free-throw line, while the Panthers made 4-of-7.
“Gavin made big shots,” Riley said. “Ladd (Choate) hit two big 3-pointers. Parker (Brown) battled around the rim. It was a group effort. We are at our best when we are balanced on offense.”
Heber Springs broke a 5-5 tie by going on an 7-3 scoring run and led 12-8 going into the second quarter. The lead changed six times for the remainder of the first half. Vaughn’s jumper tied the game at 22-22 going into the dressing room at halftime.
The Panthers pulled ahead 30-26 midway through the third quarter. Masingale and Kyle Archer each made two free throws as the game was tied at 30-30 going into the fourth quarter.
Riley said the win will give the team momentum for the start of the second half of the conference season.
“We need to keep working hard and getting better,” Riley said. “Ozark’s slow pace didn’t surprise us. They have been trying to play a different way in recent games to take advantage of their strength. They were playing to get a good shot. It was a battle every possession. We made enough shots to win.”
Riley said it was another example of the team continuing its improvement.
“This group of players have dealt with a lot of adversity for the past two years,” he said. “We are playing better and then the Covid-19 altered our schedule. These players are resilient.”
Heber Springs will play two conference road games this week. The Panthers will travel to Morrilton on Tuesday and then play at Subiaco Academy on Friday.
Morrilton’s dominance on the offensive boards wore down the Heber Springs Panthers in Tuesday’s Conference 4-4A basketball game at the Panther Den.
The Devil Dogs (1-1 in Conference 4-4A, 8-6 overall) seized control with a 10-3 scoring run during the second quarter and defeated the Panthers 60-38 and stopped a four-game losing streak.
Heber Springs (1-2 in Conference 4-4A, 10-6 overall) started its latest win streak with a win at Des Arc before sweeping three games and claiming the Mount Vernon-Enola Holiday Tournament championship.
“We played hard for most of the game and did a good job of taking away some of the things they wanted to do with Pinion,” said Heber Springs coach Jordan Riley, referring to Razorback signee Joseph Pinion said. “The name of the game was offensive rebounds. We gave up too many. No. 11 (Ja Corey Mosley) crashed the offensive boards hard and probably had his career high scoring game. We must do a better job rebounding and play more physical.”
Mosley, who made 12-of-15 shots, scored a game high 26 points for Morrilton, mostly off offensive rebounds. Pinion had 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Julian Brockman grabbed eight rebounds.
Gavin Vaughn, who had three 3-pointers, led the Panthers with 13 points. Ryan Crocker had 12 points. One of Vaughn’s 3-pointers was the only team’s points during the second quarter.
“We need to get Ryan going earlier in the game,” Riley said. “We need players to play more aggressive on offense. It looked like we were intimidated at times. We must learn it doesn’t matter the name on the back of the jersey or where he might be going to college.”
After a couple of lead changes during the opening minutes, Ladd Choate hit a 3-pointer and started a 7-0 scoring run. Crocker and Parker Brown each made field goals as the Panthers pulled ahead, 9-4.
Morrilton responded with an 8-0 run to regain the lead. Roderick Fordren began the charge with a field goal, followed by Dylan Fondren’s free throw. Mosley then scored off an offensive rebound to tie the game at 9-9. The Devil Dogs took the lead on Brockman’s 3-pointer. Morrilton increased lead to five points on Markel Swinton’s field goal.
Heber Springs stayed close and pulled to within 18-16 by the end of the first quarter on Vaughn’s 3-pointer.
The Panthers took the lead for the final time when Vaughn connected from behind the arc early in the second quarter. The Devil Dogs controlled the remainder of the first half by scoring 10 unanswered points for a 28-19 halftime lead.
Morrilton, who led by as much as 16 points, outscored Heber Springs 16-11 during the third quarter and built a 44-30 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Panthers will play their next two games on the road, beginning with Dardanelle on Friday. Heber Springs will travel to Clarksville on Tuesday.
“Dardanelle is going to be a very tough game,” Riley said. “They beat Morrilton (in overtime at Dardanelle). We need to bring our ‘A’ game. We will do our best to play at our pace and move forward.”
Heber Springs’ next home game will be against Pottsville on Jan. 14.