Inside strength proves decisive as Lady Cats top Lady Hornets

File photo by Rick Nation

CONWAY — Early in the third quarter, Bryant Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews decided to deploy his team in the very 1-3-1 zone trap, which the Conway Lady Cats had used so effectively up to that point.

It was a chance to see how the Lady Cats would attack the defense they liked so much.

For a while, it worked for the Lady Hornets similarly as they went on a 14-4 run.

But Conway adapted. The Lady Cats had something to attack that defense that the Lady Hornets didn’t, a 6-4 post to place at the back of the Bryant defense. Savannah Scott provided a pressure release for Conway, on her way to scoring a game-high 23 points. She had five rebounds, all on the offensive end.

Bryant had whittled a 24-point deficit to just 13 with Natalie Edmonson knocking down a trio of 3-pointers during the run. And Parris Atkins attacking for 6 of her team-high 15 points including the Lady Hornets first free-throw attempts of the game at the 3:55 mark of the third quarter.

After Edmonson’s third triple, Scott came through with a three-point play then scored inside again to make it 47-29 going into the fourth quarter.

Conway went on to a 65-39 win, which came despite the fact that the Lady Hornets forced 18 turnovers and held the Lady Cats to just 6 of 35 beyond the 3-point arc.

Unfortunately for Bryant, Conway forced A 29 turnovers. The Lady Cats outrebounded the Lady Hornets 38-28 with 17 of their boards coming on the offensive end.

It was the first game for either team in two weeks. Winter weather resulted in the suspension in play. Everybody in the 6A-Central Conference has make-up games but none more than Bryant, which will play five games over the next 10 days. They’ll play at Cabot on Friday, a key game in the Lady Hornets’ fight to clinch a spot in the Class 6A State Tournament in Fayetteville.

Conway improved to 18-4 overall and 10-2 in league play. The Lady Cats are fighting for a top-two seed and a first-round bye at State with an outside chance to share in the conference regular-season championship. They’re a game behind league-leading Fort Smith Northside.

It was the last of the Lady Hornets’ games against the powerhouses for the conference — Conway, North Little Rock and Northside. Their last five games will be against team below them in the standings (Little Rock Southwest and Mount St. Mary Academy) or against teams they are contending with for seeding to State.

A pair of baskets by Atkins had the Lady Hornets within 5-4 against the Lady Cats who responded with a 10-0 run, sparked by Chloe Clardy’s 3. She hit another one to cap the run at 15-4.

Conway had a chance to keep the run going but Atkins made a steal and a layup. Scott scored inside then Atkins hit a 3 to cut the Lady Cats’ margin to 17-9. But Jaiden Thomas’ 3 made it an 11-point lead going into the second quarter.

After a free throw by Conway’s Kalayna King, Edmonson drained a 3 off a kick-out from Atkins and it was 21-12 20 seconds into the second quarter.

Bryant, however, didn’t score again until Emileigh Muse grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 3:00 left in the half. That stopped a 7-0 burst by the Lady Cats, who followed up the Muse bucket with a 6-0 push before the end of the half, building the lead to 20.

And when Scott scored the first two baskets of the second half, the lead was 38-14.

Bryant’s run started with a jumper from Atkins. Scott missed inside and Edmonson bombed a 3. 

After Scott scored again, Edmonson popped another trey and Atkins followed up with a 12-foot jumper.

After a Conway timeout, the Lady Cats turned the ball over and Atkins got to the free-throw line where she cut the margin to 14.

Bryant had a chance to get closer when Scott was called for an offensive foul, but the Lady Hornets were unable to cash in. A layup by Clardy, who finished with 16 points, was countered by Edmonson’s third 3 of the quarter to make it 42-29.

But before Bryant scored again, Conway had expanded the lead to 55-29 and the Lady Hornets were never that close again.


Score by quarters

BRYANT           9          5          15        10 — 39

Conway           20        14        17        14 — 65

LADY HORNETS (9-9, 2-7) 39

Lain 0-3 0-2 0, Atkins 6-14 2-2 15, Edmonson 4-8 0-0 12, Findley 1-7 1-2 4, Muse 3-12 0-0 8, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Knight 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-44 (32%) 3-6 (50%) 39.

LADY CATS (18-4, 10-2) 65

Clardy 6-16 2-2 16, Brown 0-1 0-3 0, Thomas 3-10 0-1 9, Scott 11-15 1-1 23, King 1-3 1-2 3, Beckwith 4-6 0-2 8, Jolivette 1-1 0-0 3, Malcum 1-1 1-2 3, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Hill 0-0 0-0 0, Cain 0-1 0-0 0, Larkins 0-1 0-0 0, Corley 0-2 0-0 0, Venzant 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-57 (47%) 5-13 (38%) 65.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 8-23 (Edmonson 4-8, Muse 2-8, Findley 1-4, Atkins 1-3), Conway 6-35 (Thomas 3-9, Clardy 2-9, Jolivette 1-1, King 0-2, Beckwith 0-1, Cain 0-1, Larkins 0-1, Corley 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 29, Conway 18. Rebounds: Bryant 9-19 28 (Atkins 1-7 8, Findley 1-4 5, Muse 2-2 4, Lain 3-1 4, Taylor 0-3 3, team 2-2), Conway 17-21 38 (Thomas 2-5 7, Brown 0-5 5, Scott 5-0 5, Malcum 3-2 5, Beckwith 1-3 4, Clardy 1-2 3, King 0-2 2, Cain 1-1 2, Jolivette 1-0 1, team 3-1 4). Team fouls: Bryant 14, Conway 11.

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