CONWAY – Heber Springs got 16 points from Addison Hudspeth as the Panthers downed South Side Bee Branch, 47-41, in a consolation contest of the St. Joseph Tournament at the Family Activities Center.
Heber Springs led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter and 23-17 at the break.
The game remained tight throughout the third quarter as a Molly Smith basket gave the Panthers a 29-21 advantage with 5:45 left in the third quarter, before Marli Huddleton field goal capped a 6-0 run that put the score a 29-27 with 2:22 remaining in the stanza.
Hudspeth would go on a 5-0 run with a 3-pointer, one of three on the afternoon, and a short jumper with 59 seconds left pushed the Heber Springs advantage back to seven at 34-27.
Mollie Leonard hit a pair of free throws for the Hornets and Jewel Walley drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 34-31 heading into the final quarter.
Junior Jaylea Hooten would take over in the fourth quarter scoring seven points, including the only two field goals for Heber Springs in the quarter, to fuel a 7-2 run that saw the Panthers increase their advantage to 41-33 with 4:48 left.
South Side Bee Branch (7-9) would make it a six-point contest with less than a minute to go but Heber Springs would salt the game away from the free-throw line. The Panthers finished the quarter 9-of-15 from the line and 11-of-20 on the afternoon.
“The game was a little closer than I wanted it to be,” Heber Springs coach Spencer Gay said, “but I was proud of the effort and was really proud of the girls fixing some ball-handling problems we’ve had.”
Heber Springs came into the tournament with an undefeated record but suffered their first loss of the season in the pool-play opener to Mayflower.
“That game was tough,” Gay said. “I don’t want to harp on that because winning two out of three (in the tournament) was pretty big time for us. I was proud of that.”
The first-year Panther coach would later add that the loss could benefit Heber Springs when they get into conference play.
“They played us a style that we are going to see later down the road,” Gay said. “I saw a (ball-handling) problem. Our kids saw a problem and they’ve worked every day since to fix it. It’s not going to happen overnight, but a month from now, but you are going to see a different team.”
The win improved Heber Springs to 7-1 on the season.
“I am ecstatic where we are,” Gay said. “I think it says a lot about the kids.”
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (47): Hope Turney 1, Jaylea Hooten 15, Addison Hudspeth 16, Sophie Stone 4, Molly Smith 8, Emily Fuller 3.
SOUTH SIDE BEE BRANCH SCORING (41): Brinkley Smith 2, Marli Huddleston 3, Mollie Leonard 8, Jewel Walley 13, Emily Walley 14, Maggie Bradford 2.
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HEBER SPRINGS SENIOR GIRLS 2021-2022 (Click on a game for previous details) (Record: 7-1, 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 at Benton Harmony Grove (JG, SG, SB), 5 p.m. 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. * 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)