By Rob Patrick
PEARCY — The Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves freshman basketball team depends a lot for offense on center Korey Bullard. Close to 6-feet tall, she’s tough for a lot of freshmen teams to handle and usually gives her team an advantage in the post.
But, on Thursday night, the Bryant Lady Hornets’ duo in the post, Lauren Buck and Whitney Meyer, nearly matched Bullard’s scoring and tripled her rebound total to help their team capture a 40-22 win in a gym that has been troublesome for past Bryant teams to escape successfully.
But this is no ordinary Bryant team, of course.[more]
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 21-0 overall and 11-0 in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference going into the final three games of the regular season. And, as it turns out, the final three games are against the top three teams trailing the Lady Hornets in the divisional standings, starting with third-place North Little Rock on Monday, Feb. 1. That will be followed by their final home game on Thursday, Feb. 4, against second-place Cabot South before they finish up at fourth-place Benton on Monday, Feb. 8.
The post-season conference tournament, which will bring the North and South Division teams together for the final time — the conference is splitting up next year — follows Feb. 13-18, at Sheridan.
On Thursday at Lake Hamilton, the Lady Hornets, as usual, produced quite a few more possessions than their opponent. But instead of a big turnover advantage (Lake Hamilton had just 14 to Bryant’s 9), they hit the boards to create the advantage. Bryant finished with a 38-21 advantage led by Meyer’s nine and Courtney Davidson’s seven. Buck and McKenzie Adams each collected six.
And Adams bounced back from a season-low 6 points against Mount St. Mary’s on Monday to drop 20 on the Lady Wolves.
Lake Hamilton, amazingly enough, was only cited for four fouls in the game.
The Lady Hornets gained the upper hand early. The game was tied at 2 until almost midway through the first quarter. With 3:44 left in the period, Davidson found herself alone in the left corner and, after looking for a teammate to pass to, squared up and drained a 3.
Moments later, Adams made a steal and layup that gave Bryant a 7-2 edge.
Alexis Bland, who added 6 points to Bullard’s team-high 12, canned a 12-footer to make it 7-4 but then the Lady Hornets put together 6 straight points. Kiara Moore hit a short jumper off a drive in the paint, Adams hit a 12-footer then drilled one from 10 feet out off a nice inbounds play, making it 13-4.
Bullard hit a baseline jumper before the period was over to make it a 7-point game at the break.
And when she scored on a lob into the post to start the second quarter, the lead was down to 5. But Adams scored 6 straight points to build the lead back up. The first came off a drive, the second came after she and McKenzie Rice combined to force a turnover. Buck, after gathering an offensive rebound, fed Adams for an open jumper to make it 17-8. Another steal by Adams led to a reverse layup, the game’s first double-digit lead and a Lake Hamilton timeout.
When play resumed, Bland and Kayla Bullard hit consecutive shots for the Lady Wolves to get their team back within 19-12. But when Meyer hit a follow shot and Adams knocked down a free throw to make it a 10-point advantage again, the lead was never less than that the rest of the game.Rice hit a baseline jumper off an assist by Logan Davis and, after a pair of Lake Hamilton misses, Adams sank a running jumper with :09 left in the half to make it 26-12.
The Lady Wolves were still within 28-16 midway through the third quarter when Meyer hit the offensive glass to score and, after Adams added a free throw, took a feed from Adams for a basket to bump the lead to 33-16.
Peyton Vinyard scored for Lady Hamilton but Moore trumped that with a 3 and Bryant has doubled the Lady Wolves, 36-18 going into the final period.
And when Buck hit a jumper to start the fourth quarter, Bryant had its largest team of 20.
LADY HORNETS 40, LADY WOLVES 22
Score by quarters
BRYANT 13 13 10 4 — 40
Lake Hamilton 6 6 6 4 — 22
LADY HORNETS 40
Moore 3-8 0-0 7, Adams 9-15 2-5 20, Rice 1-7 0-0 2, Davidson 1-4 0-0 3, Meyer 3-5 0-0 6, Buck 1-6 0-0 2, Davis 0-3 0-0 0, Murphy 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-51 2-5 40.
LADY WOLVES 22
Frazier 0-2 0-0 0, Vinyard 1-3 0-0 2, Ka.Bullard 1-4 0-0 2, Bland 3-6 0-1 6, Ko.Bullard 4-12 4-5 12, Thompson 0-3 0-0 0, Brown 0-2 0-2 0. Totals: 9-32 4-8 22
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-5 (Moore 1-3, Davidson 1-1, Davis 0-1), Lake Hamilton 0-4 (Ka.Bullard 0-3, Ko.Bullard 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 38 (Meyer 9, Davidson 7), Lake Hamilton 21 (Bland 6). Turnovers: Bryant 9, Lake Hamilton 14. Team fouls: Bryant 10, Lake Hamilton 4.