By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY
Heber Springs’ fullcourt press defense slowed down Dardanelle, but once the intensity picked up during the third quarter, the game quickly changed at the Panther Den Friday.
The Lady Panthers (1-2 in conference, 7-8 overall) led
16-11 at halftime and took control with a 17-4 third-quarter scoring run and coasted to a 42-26 win against Dardanelle in a 4-4A Conference basketball game.
“We talked about that at halftime,” Heber Springs coach Jamey Riddle said. “We wanted to apply more defensive pressure. We were not able to force many turnovers with our press during the first half.”
Jaylea Hooten and Ellie Riddle were a potent one-two scoring punch for Heber Springs. Hooten led all scorers with 21 points and Riddle contributed 14 points.
Brooklyn Tidwell and Bethani Walker had nine and eight points, respectively, for Dardanelle.
“During halftime, I asked Madison (Clemons) and Hope (Turney) to apply more defensive pressure,” Jamey Riddle said. “That allowed Ellie and Jaylea to go for steals, which led to transition buckets. We didn’t want to come down and set up our offense all of the time.”
The lead changed three times during a slow-paced first quarter. Annette Navarette connected on a 3-point shot, giving Dardanelle a 5-4 lead with two minutes left.
Hooten and Riddle answered with field goals for the Lady Panthers, who took an 8-5 lead into the second quarter.
Riddle scored on a drive to the basket and Sophie Stone made a 3-pointer, increasing the lead to 13-5. Rylea Manning put the Lady Sand Lizards on the board by hitting a 3-pointer.
Hooten’s field goal increased the Heber Springs lead to 15-8. Manning connected on 1-of-2 free throws and Navarette scored, pulling Dardanelle to within 15-11. Riddle made 1-of-2 free throws as the Lady Panthers led 16-11 at halftime.
Heber Springs went on a 10-0 scoring run during the first six minutes of the third quarter and increased its lead to 26-11. The Lady Panthers maintained control and led 33-15 going into the fourth quarter.
“Dardanelle switched to a man defense during the fourth quarter and we got a little too sluggish against it,” Riddle said. “We played good defense for most of the game and held down their two shooters. We did a better job of limiting Dardanelle’s shots.”
Riddle said the first conference win gave the team renewed confidence heading to the conclusion of the conference’s first half of the schedule.
“It felt good to get the win,” he said. “It was good to see players happy in the dressing room after the game. We lost a lot of close games and maybe this will get us going.”
Heber Springs will host Clarksville on Tuesday night with the senior recognition ceremony for all spring sport athletes scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Tip-off for the game will be 6 p.m. The Lady Panthers will complete the first half of the conference season at Pottsville on Friday.
Dardanelle 8 3 4 11–26
Heber Springs 8 8 17 9–42
Dardanelle scorers — Brooklyn Tidwell 9, Bethani Walker 8, Annette Navarette 5, Rylea Manning 3, Emma Daughtery 1.
Heber Springs scorers — Jaylea Hooten 21, Ellie Riddle 14, Sophie Stone 5, Madison Clemons 2.