It was one of those nights that the Heber Springs Lady Panthers will try and forget quickly.
Heber Springs trailed 18-8 after the opening eight minutes, while Ozark dominated the final three quarters and defeated the Lady Panthers 54-25 in the 4-4A Conference basketball opener at the Panther Den Friday.
Ozark outscored Heber Springs 32-17 during the final three quarters.
“The big difference in the game was our inexperience,” Heber Springs coach Jamey Riddle said. “We were off 10 days from our last game, but had a good week of practice. When game time came, we just didn’t do what we needed to do to win.”
The Lady Panthers trailed 12-4 midway through the first quarter. Hailey Bresnahan reduced Ozark’s lead by making two free throws. Ozark responded with a 6-2 scoring spurt and led 18-8 going into the second quarter.
Heber Springs’ shooting remained cold from the field. The Lady Panthers scored four points during the next eight minutes and trailed 34-12 at halftime.
Ozark increased its lead to 49-19 by the end of the third quarter. Kelsee Barnett, Carter Crane and Briley Burns each scored 11 points for Ozark. Jaylea Hooten led Heber Springs with nine points.
Home games against Newport and Cedar Ridge scheduled for Monday and Tuesday have been cancelled. The Lady Panthers (0-1 in conference, 7-5 overall) will return to action at Sheridan on Dec.
“Sheridan is a very good team,” Riddle said. “We’ve got to keep getting better evert game and learn from our mistakes. We can’t keep using our inexperience as an excuse, and I think we will. The girls come each week to practice and are doing the right things. We just need to to extend what we are doing right to the court.”
The next scheduled home game will be played on Jan. 2 against Rose Bud.
Ozark 18 16 15 5–54 Heber Springs 8 4 7 6–25 Ozark scoring — Kelsee Barnett 11, Carter Crane 11, Briley Burns 11, Autuman Joy 6, Jaci Bonds 5, Anna Woolsey 4, McKenzie Powell 4, Gillian Lachowsky 2. Heber Springs scoring — Jaylea Hooten 9, Hailey Bresnahan 4, Sophie Stone 4, Olivia Norton 4, Madison Clemons 2, Brandi Meredith 2.
DARDANELLE – The Heber Springs Lady Panthers went down to the final seconds against Ozark in the 4-4A Conference Basketball Tournament quarterfinals.
With 12 seconds left in the game, Heber Springs advanced into the frontcourt, setting up Jillian Herring for a 3-pointer, which came up short with three seconds left as the Lady Panthers’ season ended with a 42-39 loss to Ozark Wednesday.
Heber Springs swept Ozark during the regular season and was seeded third.
The Lady Panthers tied Clarksville for second place, but they split games. Clarksville received the second seed by scoring one more point in match-ups against Heber Springs.
“I told them after the game how proud I was of how they played and battled until the end,” Heber Springs coach Jamey Riddle said. “Ozark made a few shots and we missed a few shots in the fourth quarter. You have to put the ball in the basket at the end of a game. We had a great year with five seniors leading us.”
Libby Stutts led Heber Springs with 14 points. Herring had 10 points. Carter Crane scored 11 points for Ozark and Briley Burns finished with 10 points.
“We probably needed to call a timeout before the final shot, but we had time to set up the play,” Riddle said. “I knew they would key on Libby and we ran a play that had been successful in the past. The players executed the play, but the shot didn’t go in the basket.”
Heber Springs finished the first quarter strong. The Lady Panthers led 6-5 before a basket by Ellie Riddle and Herring’s 3-pointer increased the lead to 11-5 going into the second quarter.
The lead was 16-9 midway through the second quarter. Ozark went on a 10-4 scoring run as Heber Springs held a 20-19 halftime lead.
“Jillian got in foul trouble and missed most of the second quarter,” Jamey Riddle said. “She was trying to guard one of Ozark’s best players.”
The lead changed three times during the third quarter as the two teams were tied 30-30 going into the fourth quarter.
Ozark began the final quarter by making a 2-point basket and 3-pointer and never trailed again.
Heber Springs finished the season at 17-9. The 17 wins were the most by the Lady Panthers since going 19-5 during the 2013-14 season.
“It has been a while since we finished above .500,” Riddle said. “We will be losing five seniors, who played well all year. We also got good fan support. This was an easy group of players to coach. I wish the seniors all of the best and they will be successful during their lifetimes.”
The Heber Springs Lady Panthers head into the final week of the regular season riding high on a four-game winning streak, including three straight on the road.
Heber Springs will put its season-tying best win streak on the line when it travels to Morrilton (17-5, 10-1 in the 4A-4) tonight. It will be the final regular season road contest for the Lady Panthers as they look to avenge a 20-point setback last month at the Panther Den.
“We didn’t play well against Morrilton the last time when they were here,” Heber Springs coach Jamey Riddle said. “I think the girls have responded well … they know we didn’t play very good.”
Morrilton clinched the outright conference title Friday night with a 47-30 victory against Clarksville, but there is still plenty for Heber Springs to play for, but that will come on Friday — Senior Night for the Panthers and Lady Panthers.
Against the Devil Dogs, Heber Springs can get a measure of revenge and win a season-best fifth game in-a-row heading into Friday’s showdown with Clarksville.
In order to do that, the Lady Panthers will have to continue to play what Riddle described as “consistent” basketball.
“Right now we are playing that way,” he said. “We are consistently shooting the ball, rebounding fairly, not turning the ball over and not getting in a hurry.”
Riddle also said everyone is pitching in and doing their job.
“Libby’s (Stutts) is starting to shoot the ball well right now,” he said before continuing, “Jillian’s (Herring) is playing hard. We played well on the road. We had three tough road games so far, we’ll see if we can stay on that streak (tonight).”
Senior Claudia Newberry is one of those who is probably playing the best basketball of Lady Panther career finishing with 10 points in a victory at Dardanelle on Feb. 4 and 14 points at Ozark on Jan. 31.
“Our post play as been a lot better,” Riddle said. “We’ve had different ones that we are able to go to now and get some things done.”
Heber Springs has wrapped up at least the three seed for next week’s 4A-4 District Tournament at Dardanelle. With a win tonight at Morrilton and a win on Friday against Clarksville, the Lady Panthers will be the No. 2 seed and earn a spot in the district tournament semifinals and an automatic to the regional tournament in two weeks at Berryville.
Heber Springs can still get the No. 2 seed with a loss against Morrilton tonight, but the Lady Panthers would have to beat Clarksville by eight or more points to earn the spot.
“It will be huge, still a lot there (to play for),” Riddle said. “We just need to go take care of business.”
Improved accuracy at the free-throw line paid dividends for the Heber Springs Lady Panthers at the Panther Den Friday.
The Lady Panthers made 14-of-18 free throws during the fourth quarter and defeated Ozark, 55-42, in a 4-4A Conference basketball game.
Libby Stutts hit 6-of-8 at the free-throw line during the fourth quarter. Ashley Spanel made 4-of-4 and Hailey Bresnahan converted 3-of-4 attempts. Ellie Riddle was 1-of-2 at the line.
The Lady Panthers made 25-of-33 free throws for the game. Jillian Herring led Heber Springs with 16 points. Ellie Riddle added 11 points and Stutts had 10 points. Carter Crane scored 17 points for Ozark and Mary-Grace Ree had 10 points.
“Our free-throw shooting was very big in winning the game,” coach Jamey Riddle said. “We had not been shooting free throws well. We also did what was needed during the final three games to win. We outplayed them in the last three quarters.”
Heber Springs switched its full-court press at the start of the second quarter and it led to success.
The Panther trailed 13-8 after the first quarter and reduced it to 22-19 by halftime.
“The full-court press we started was not working and I decided to make a change,” Riddle said. “We contained them better and kept the ball from Ozark’s big girl. We wanted to speed up the game.”
Heber Springs tied the game at 24-24 two minutes into the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Herring.
The Lady Panthers, who outscored Ozark 20-7 during the third quarter, gained a double digit lead and took a 39-29 lead into the fourth quarter.
Ellie Riddle and Claudia Newberry committed their fourth personal fouls late in the third quarter, but strong play off the bench helped to increase the lead. Riddle and Newberry returned with two minutes to play in the game.
“Mary Shearer has a lot of playing time and a senior that you can count on playing well,” Jamey Riddle said. “She goes hard for rebounds and does what we need to help the team succeed. Hailey gave us good minutes, made free throws and got defensive rebounds.”
Riddle also credited Herring and Stutts, especially for their play during the fourth quarter.
“Libby and Jillian waited for their time and got good shots in the fourth quarter,” Riddle said. “We were able to create one-on-one opportunities for them to drive.”
Heber Springs (2-0 in conference, 9-2 overall) is one of three teams (Morrilton and Clarksville) undefeated in conference play.
“We had to win at home because it will be tough at Ozark,” Riddle said. “We must win the home games. We got a big road win at Dover.”
Heber Springs will return to action at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against DeWitt at the Steve Landers Chevorlet-Heber Springs Holiday Tournament.
“We didn’t play well at the St. Joseph Tournament and hope to play well at our tournament,” Riddle said. “We will take the approach of a end-of-the-season tournament. We would like to win the tournament.”
On Dec. 16, Heber Springs traveled to White County Central and came away with a 51-31 nonconference victory.
Heber Springs led 30-14 at the half and 41-23 at the end of three quarters.
Ellie Riddle (13) and Claudia Newberry (11) each finished double figures in scoring for the Panthers.
HEBER SPRINGS SENIOR GIRLS BOXSCORES
December 20 vs. Ozark
Ozark 13 9 7 13 - 42
Heber Springs 8 11 20 16 - 55
OZARK SCORING (42): Carter Crane 17, Mary-Grace Ree 10, Kelsee Barnett 5, Briley Burns 4, Summer Joy 3, Tanner Richard 3.
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (55): Jillian Herring 16, Ellie Riddle 11, Libby Stutts 10, Ashley Spanel 5, Hailey Bresnahan 5, Claudia Newberry 4, Mary Shearer 4.
December 16 at White County Central
White County Central 8 6 9 8 - 31
Heber Springs 21 9 11 10 - 51
WHITE COUNTY CENTRAL SCORING (31): Jaidyn Koerdt 6, Abigail Mullins 6, Makayla Baker 5, Hailey Jackson 4, Ashlyn Mullins 4, Destiny Clark 4, Kalista Altom 2
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (51): Ellie Riddle 13, Claudia Newberry 11, Jillian Herring 9, Ashley Spanel 7, Libby Stutts 6, Hailey Bresnahan 2, Kylie Carr 2, LiLi Chaney 1.
HEBER SPRINGS SENIOR GIRLS
4A-4 RECORD: 2-0
November 12 - Heber Springs 55, Nemo Vista 31
November 19 - Heber Springs 70, South Side Bee Branch 45
November 21 - Heber Springs 67, Riverview 27
November 26 - Heber Springs 56, Clinton 54 (OT)
December 3 - Conway St. Joseph 47, Heber Springs 44 #
December 5 - Heber Springs 53, South Side Bee Branch 34 #
December 7 - Heber Springs 44, Wonderview 43 #
December 10 - Heber Springs 59, Dover 56 ^
December 13 - Marshall 70, Heber Springs 52
December 16 - Heber Springs 51, White County Central 31
December 20 - Heber Springs 55, Ozark 42 ^
December 26 - Heber Springs vs. DeWitt *
December 27 - Cowboy Chevrolet Holiday Classic
December 28 - Cowboy Chevrolet Holiday Classic
January 7 - Pottsville ^
January 9 - at Newport
January 14 - Dardanelle ^
January 17 - at Clarksville ^
January 21 - Morrilton ^
January 24 - Dover ^
January 28 - at Pottsville ^
January 31 - at Ozark ^
February 4 - at Dardanelle ^
February 11 - at Morrilton ^
February 14 - Clarksville (Senior Night) ^
February 17 - 4A-4 District at Dardanelle
(# - Denotes Conway St. Joseph Tournament)
(^ - Denotes 4A-4 conference contest)
(* - Denotes Steve Landers' Cowboy Chevrolet Holiday Tournament at Heber Springs)