It was a fast start that propelled the Searcy Lady Lions to a 58-54 win over the Heber Springs Lady Panthers inside the Panthers’ Den Tuesday night.
And the Lady Lions needed it.
Heber Springs tied the game twice in the fourth quarter before Searcy scored the game’s final four points to get out of town with a victory.
“They are a pretty solid team,” Searcy head coach Kim Sitzmann said. “I knew they were going to keep battling. Road games. You never know what you’re going to get. I was glad to see us hang on to it even thought things really weren’t going our way.”
It was Ellie Riddle that gave the Heber Springs Lady Panthers their first lead Tuesday night. Her free throws with three and a half minutes to play tied the game at 51-51 after Searcy took a commanding lead.
Enter Madison Cleamons.
She tied the game again at 54-54 on a three from the top of the key.
A steal by Asharia Brown, who was hurt on a foul going up for the transition bucket after the steal turned into points for Searcy. She was forced to the bench by rule putting and free throws by Naliyah Hadley gave Searcy a one-point lead.
Heber took the ball down one, but lost the basketball and had to foul. Olivia Roberson hit two free throws with 36 seconds to go to give Searcy a 57-54 lead
The Lady Panthers had a chance to get back within one but misses at the foul line kept Searcy ahead.
While the Lady Panthers got the game’s first bucket, it was Searcy’s 10-0 run after that that put the Lady Lions up and the Lady Panthers searching for answers.
Much of the Lady Lions’ run came as a result of a full court pressure.
Hooten’s inside bucket finally broke the run with 3:40 to go in the first quarter.
A transition layup with a foul shot by Asharia Brown. Add a bucket by Hadley, and the Lady Lions extended their lead to 11 at 15-4.Hadley led Searcy with 13 points.
Riddle and Jaylea Hooten had four points each to account for Heber Springs’ eight points in the first quarter.
Searcy led 18-8 after one.
The Lady Panthers started the second quarter exactly like they did the first with a Riddle bucket.
The Lady Lions, however, answered in similar fashion as well, with a scoring run, this time four straight before Hailey Bresnahan hit a jumper straightaway just inside the arc.
Searcy still enjoyed a 10-point cushion. That cushion ballooned to 17 just before halftime.
Sophie Stone’s three with just under two minutes to go cut Searcy’s lead to 31-17.
Stone added a pair of fouls shots capping her personal mini-run of five straight.
Searcy went into the locker room at halftime with a 33-23 after Clemons hit a three from the left side to cap a 10-2 run to close out the second quarter at 33-24.
The Lady Panthers came out of the locker room in the third quarter on fire cutting Searcy’s lead to three points scoring eight of the half’s first 10 points.
But Searcy kept the Lady Panthers at bay throughout the third quarter.
Heber got as close as four.
Searcy clung to a 47-43 lead going into the fourth.
The Lady Lions led by as many as seven in the early minutes of the fourth. Robertson’s steal and breakaway put Searcy up 51-44.
Heber Springs got to within two at 51-49 with 3:45 to play on Hooten’s putback.
Lions surge late for bounce back win
When the Searcy Lions entered the Panthers’ Den in Heber Springs Tuesday night, both teams were in need of a win.
Tuesday’s game came down to who would make plays down the stretch. It was Searcy’s 16-3 run that led into the final minute of Tuesdays’ contest that gave the Lions a 60-55 win on the road.
Searcy led by five at halftime, but the Panthers were able to draw even with a three from Ryan Crocker.
But two buckets later the Lions were able to get the advantage back.
That’s where the back-and-forth continued.
Layups by Connor Riddle and Crocker in transition knotted the game again at 36-36.
While Heber Springs had chances to take the lead, but they couldn’t get shots to fall.
Down 38-36 after Searcy’s Zyron Willams hit from close range, Crocker answered in the same fashion to tie the game for the third time in the quarter.
Searcy’s Willie Bowser hit one of two foul shots to put Searcy up by one. That lead lasted 16 seconds as Crocker’s fade away jumper at the buzzer gave Heber Springs their first lead in the second half at 40-39.
It took the Lions a minute and 16 seconds into the fourth quarter to regain the lead on a steal and layup by Braden Watson.
That lead lasted 20 seconds for Searcy.
Riddle’s three from near the right corner put the Panthers up by two. Crocker then capitalized on a turnover with a running jumper.
Seacy then got points on three straight trips putting the Lions up by one.with five minutes to play.
It was Watson that extended the edge for the Lions when he sliced his way through the Heber Springs defense. The Lions then got a transition layup from Hamrick to go up by five with 3;30 to go.
Searcy scored 11 straight before Riddle hit again from his long-range spot in the right corner with 2:51 to go.
Up 52-48, Searcy scored five straight to put Heber Springs away.