The Heber Springs Lady Panthers opened the 2019 portion of their schedule by taking three out of four contests against Newport last Friday at the Panther Den.
The Heber Springs senior girls, senior girls junior varsity and junior girls all claimed wins while the seventh-grade girls fell.
For the senior girls, they closed out the 2018 portion of their schedule by going 2-3 over a five-game stretch, including losing their last two in the Landers Cowboy Chevrolet Heber Springs Holiday Classic, but they started 2019 off in a good way with a 56-36 victory over Newport to improve to 9-6 on the year.
Heber Springs started quickly as a 3-pointer by Ashley Spanel and a basket by Libby Stutts gave the Lady Panthers a 5-0 advantage before Newport (4-10) could get on the scoreboard with a free-throw.
Another 3-pointer by Spanel and baskets by Jesslyn Johnson, Claudia Newberry and Stutts were part of a 9-2 run for Heber Springs to push its advantage to 14-3 with 3:32 to play in the first quarter as the Lady Panthers would go on to lead 20-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Stutts would add seven of her 14 first-half points in the second quarter as Heber Springs pushed its lead to 34-16 at the half.
Newport wouldn’t get any closer in the second-half as the Lady Panthers led 48-28 at the end of three quarter.
“I thought we had great energy coming out,” Heber Springs coach Jamey Riddle said. “We had confidence coming out. We had two good days of practice Wednesday and Thursday getting ready for this.
“It’s good to see them hungry and wanting it because we really didn’t play our best ball during the Christmas tournament. So it was good to see them come out and respond like that tonight (Friday).”
Heber Springs scoring (56): Libby Stutts 16, Claudia Newberry 10, Ashley Spanel 9, Ellie Riddle 9, Jesslyn Johnson 8, Jillian Herring 2, Mary Shearer 2.
The Heber Springs senior boys did not play and have been off since the tournament, but both teams were on the road Tuesday night for a 4A-4 conference contest at Dardanelle.
“We get back in conference play,” Riddle said. “There were some bright spots before Christmas, but there were some spots that we want to forget and hopefully we did that. If we can continue to play like we did tonight with good energy, good defense and good rebounding, we’ll be alright.”
Both Heber Springs senior high teams will be back at the Panther Den on Friday when they host Clarksville in a 4A-4 conference play starting at 5 p.m. with junior varsity action, while the senior boys will host Subiaco Academy on Saturday in another 4A-4 contest beginning at 4 p.m. with a junior boys B-game. Subiaco Academy is boys only school.
The Heber Springs junior girls, coming off a heartbreaking final second loss to White County Central before the Christmas break, got 17 points from Jaylee Hooten as they defeated Newport, 44-26.
Hooten and Sophia Stone combined to score 18 of the Lady Panthers 26 points in the first half as Heber Springs led 26-17 at the break.
The eighth-graders outscored Newport, 16-0, in the third quarter to take control of the contest.
“It been great to have that White County Central game and have a two-game win streak,” Riddle said. “They really need this for sure heading into conference play.
“We need good guard play out of that group. I think they are getting better and feeling more comfortable. They are not turning the ball over nearly as much as they were at the beginning of the year. It’s a great group, and I think everything is there. We just have to put it together.”
Heber Springs scoring (44): Jaylee Hooten 17, Sophia Stone 12, Hope Turney 6, Rylee Harrod 4, Riley Bailey 3, Cristina Garcia 2.
The Heber Springs senior girls junior varsity team played a 30-minute, running-clock contest against Newport and came out on top, 36-17.
Claudia Newberry had 12 points in the win.
“I thought they really looked good during their game,” Riddle said of the junior varsity squad. “They were executing our offense really well, really moving on defense. They rebounded as well, it was good to see that. We had two really good days in practice and so it’s good to see consistency with that carrying over to the game.”
Heber Springs scoring (36): Newberry 12, Paige Hall 8, Mary Shearer 4, Hailey Bresnahan 4, Natalie Buffalo 4, Lili Cheney 3, Brandi Meredith 1.
The seventh-grade girls trailed Newport, 12-2, at the half and outscored the Greyhounds, 8-4, in the third quarter, but couldn’t get over the hump in an 18-12 setback.
Heber Springs scoring (12): Addison Hudspeth 5, Molly Smith 3, Hailey Poore 2, Lindsay Southerland 2.