05 Feb Stutts, Heber Springs ascending 4-4A
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With two regular season games remaining, Libby Stutts and the Heber Springs Lady Panthers have a chance to chase down the two teams in front of them in the 4-4A — Clarksville and Morrilton. Heber Springs sits at third in the conference at 7-3 right behind Clarksville (8-2) and Morrilton (9-1), and the Lady Panthers play both teams to close out the regular season.
“We are in a very competitive conference, but if we play up to our potential, we could find ourselves in a good position for a top seed in district play,” Stutts said. “By doing that, we can really help ourselves in regionals. Past regionals, anything can happen.”
Heber Springs at 15-7 overall is in the midst of a successful season, and the offense all starts with Stutts at point guard. But the success didn’t come easily early.
“At the beginning of the season, I went through my first shooting slump, and it was hard,” Stutts said. “But my teammates picked up my slack, and I made sure I did everything I could to contribute every other way. I have learned that every player has an important role, and it takes a team with good chemistry, on and off the court, to win games.
“We want to win games, but more than that, we want to make a mark on the athletic program here at Heber Springs. We want to have a positive atmosphere and be remembered as the team that was also best friends and genuine people. The most important thing to me is to be remembered as an unselfish teammate that truly cared for everyone.”
Stutts was selected to this year’s 501 Basketball Team — 41 players representing the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the court. The team is sponsored by Conway Regional Health System, First Security Bank and Conway Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center. The senior was nominated by her head coach, Jamey Riddle.
“Everything we do runs through her,” Riddle wrote in the nomination. “She is the one we count on in a lot of situations. She leads by example with her toughness and work ethic, and she is a motivating teammate.”
After basketball wraps up in March, Stutts will lace up her cleats for Heber Springs soccer. She serves as the student council president and Beta Club treasurer, and is a member of science club and travel club. In the community, she participates in Godpleasers, a non-denominational church choir, and serves at Breaking Bread, a local soup kitchen. In May, she’ll graduate and prepare to attend Lyon College in the fall, where she’ll continue her basketball career and build towards dental school.
Stutts and Heber Springs return to action at Morrilton at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11.
“We’re focused and ready to give every game all we’ve got,” Stutts said. “It’s now or never at this point.”