Spanel, Heber Springs battling for 2-4A title

by Levi Gilbert

For many, seven is considered a perfect number. For Madeline Spanel and the Heber Springs Lady Panthers, seven is the number of family.

“We came out and won five straight conference games right at the beginning of the conference season, and that really showed people what we could do,” Spanel said. “We only have seven people on our team, so coming out and winning that many games really surprised people and made ourselves one of the more threatening teams in the 2-4A conference.”  

Spanel, a senior forward for Heber Springs, was selected to this year’s 501 Basketball Team — 35 players representing the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the court. She was nominated by her head coach, Jamey Riddle.

“Madeline’s best qualities on the court are her work ethic, dependability, positive attitude and leadership,” Spanel said. “She’s a good teammate and leads by example. She’s a straight-A student in the classroom and does things the right way. Madeline is an encourager and always has something positive to say.

“Madeline was one of our top scorers from last year — she averaged double digits. We have leaned on Madeline for scoring this year. She’s a great shooter and very active.”

Spanel put up her highest scoring total with 36 points earlier this season against rival Clinton. The senior has helped lead the Lady Panthers to an 8-3 record in 2-4A play (11-8 overall).

“Our conference games are always intense games that challenge us all,” Spanel said. “Those are the games we all look forward to and get excited for. My personal goal this season was to improve my game in any way I can. We’ve worked to play as one team and reach our potential. The bonds that I’ve made with all the girls I’ve played basketball with will be my favorite basketball memories.”

At Heber Springs High School, Spanel is involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, band and student council. She serves as the reporter in Beta Club and the treasurer of the senior class officers.

When she’s not on the court or in the classroom, Spanel can be found participating in the youth leadership group at her church or spending time with her family and friends.

“Madeline is the type of person that you need on your team to be successful,” Riddle said. “She is going to leave it all on the court whether it’s practice or a game or in the classroom. Madeline also plays in the band and is very active in her church. She does all this and never complains. She always has a smile and a good attitude.”

Spanel and the Lady Panthers play out of conference at 6 p.m. Thursday at Mayflower.