By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY
Heber Springs needed almost eight minutes to shake off its inexperience against Bald Knob in the basketball season opener.
The Lady Panthers took the lead for good at 12-11 less than two minutes left in the first quarter and pulled away to 58-36 win in a girls’ high school nonconference basketball game at the Panther Den on Monday.
Heber Springs led 17-11 after the opening quarter and then outscored Bald Knob 41-25.
Sophomores Madison Clemons and Jaylee Hooten led the Lady Panthers with 18 and 16 points, respectively. Senior Ellie Riddle, the only returning player with high school game experience, contributed 13 points.
“The slow start could be attributed to first-game jitters,” Heber Springs coach Jamey Riddle said. “We were unsure how we played at times during the first quarter and our inexperience showed. We fouled too much. For the most part, when things didn’t start out smooth and you still win, you have to be happy with that.”
Riddle said he was pleased with three players scoring in double figurers, but the team will need production from other players off the bench to be successful this season.
“Ellie will play a different role than the past two seasons,” Riddle said. “Madison can score, but we will need to get her the ball in the right spots. We need other players, like Oliva Norton, Brandi Meredith and Kylie Carr, to come off the bench and make contributions.”
Bald Knob led 11-4 midway through the first quarter before the Lady Panthers made their move. Hailey Bresnahan connected on a 3-pointer and Hooten scored as Heber Springs pulled to within two points.
Clemons hit a 3-pointer for a 12-11 lead as the Lady Panthers never trailed again. Clemons connected on a 3-pointer and Riddle scored for a 17-11 lead going into the second quarter.
The Lady Panthers outscored Bald Knob 7-6 during the second quarter for a 24-17 halftime lead.
Heber Springs gained its first double-digit lead at 30-20 midway through the third quarter. The Lady Bulldogs didn’t go away and pulled to within six points. The Lady Panthers finished by scoring six unanswered points and took a 40-28 into the fourth quarter.
It will be a busy week as the Lady Panthers were scheduled to play at Newport Tuesday and will host Central Arkansas Christian on Thursday.
“We need to get into game shape and the best way is to play games,” Riddle said. “I’m glad we are playing three games this week. You can work on conditioning in practice, but it’s hard to simulate it in a game. The best way to improve conditioning is playing games. We will get there. I’m just exciting that the team is playing.”
Bald Knob 11 6 11 8–36
Heber Springs 17 7 16 18–58
Bald Knob scorers — Molli Pierce 15, Regianna Ward 14, Reese Brimer 3, Gunn 2, Karlie Cochran 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Madison Clemons 18, Jaylee Hooten 16, Ellie Riddle 13, Hailey Bresnahan 5, Oliva Norton 4, Hope Turney 2.