For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here
BENTON — With 2:49 left in their showdown with the Benton Lady Panthers, the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team held their largest lead of the game, 27-22. They appeared to be on the verge of taking control of the game, which had been tight throughout.
But Benton surged. With :19 left, Madison McIntire hit a 12-foot jumper that actually put the Lady Panthers ahead 28-27.
Lady Hornets coach Nathan Castaldi called a timeout with :12.4 showing and set up a play for his team’s top scorer for the season, Parris Atkins.
Up to that point, Atkins had spent a lot of time on the bench in foul trouble. In fact, all but two minutes of the first half.
The Lady Hornets worked it to the wing on the right side, moved the ball down to the baseline then lobbed into Atkins on the short corner. She took a dribble and put up a shot over a Benton defender. It missed but she scrambled after the carom, rebounded and scored with :05.8 showing on the clock, lifting the Lady Hornets to a 29-28 victory at Panthers Arena.
Benton called a timeout with :04.3 on the clock but, against soft back-court pressure by Bryant, could not get a good shot.
“I was really proud of how our girls responded when Benton took the lead with 19 second left,” said Castaldi. “They did not panic and executed out of the timeout perfectly. Parris got the ball where we wanted to and, thankfully, stayed with it after missing the first one and got the put-back to go.”
Atkins finished with 10 points, all in the second half, Jordan Hancock also had 10 including 5 in the fourth quarter. Daria Greer scored 6 and Caitlin LaCerra 3.
For Benton, eighth-grader Alyssa Houston scored 12 and McIntire 6.
“When you play Benton it doesn’t really matter what the records are,” acknowledged Castaldi. “Both teams are going to give it their all and you saw that tonight. We had some foul trouble early, which took us out of what we were trying to do. That made it difficult in the first half.
“I was proud of the way some of our players responded in that first half,” he added. “The last couple of minutes changed the game for us. We were down 13-5 and we started attacking their zone a little better and closed the half on a 6-0 run. That gave us some momentum the second half.”
When Atkins fouled out, Bryant held a 4-2 lead. Hancock added a free throw after Houston’s charity tosses had the game tied 4-4. An offensive-rebound bucket by Raegan Swindle in the final minute of the first quarter had the Lady Panthers up 6-5.
And they started the second quarter with a 7-0 run to create that 13-5 lead. Two free throws by Greer with 1:10 left were the first points for Bryant in the second quarter. V’Mya Palmer made a steal that Greer cashed in with :40 to go.
Another Benton turnover led to a foul on Hancock’s 3-point try at the buzzer. By making two of the three shots at the free-throw line, Hancock made it 13-11.
And when Atkins returned at converted a free throw in the opening moments of the third quarter, the game was tied. Atkins added a 12-foot jumper that gave the Lady Hornets the lead.
The game was tied at 15 and 17. Atkins’ layup snapped the last deadlock. She made a steal but was called for a charge on her way to the rack. Nonetheless, the Lady Hornets forced a turnover that Atkins converted to make it 21-17 going into the fourth quarter.
“In the second half, we were able to speed them up with our pressure which got us playing the pace that we wanted,” Castaldi noted. “Give credit to Benton, once we got ahead, I thought there were a few times we were about to break it open but just could not do it.”
The Lady Hornets had two chances to add to their lead in the opening moments of the final stanza. McIntire then hit a running jumper to cut the margin to 2. Hancock answered with a 3-point basket that, with 4:25, produced Bryant’s largest lead of the game.
Tazayyah Bullord answered with a 3 but, after a Benton timeout, Hancock was fouled. Though she missed the front end of the one-and-one, Atkins rebounded her miss and was fouled. She connected once from the stripe then, moments later, Hancock made a steal and layup that had Bryant up 27-22 with 2:49 to go.
McIntire scored from 8 feet out then Bryant missed two chances to answer. Houston scored off an inbounds play to make it a one-point game. Benton got a chance to take the lead when Greer, on a drive to the basket, was called for a charge.
Castaldi called a timeout with 1:18 left and set up the press. Benton had to take its own timeout to retain possession at 1:11.
Even after that, the teams traded turnovers before McIntire put the Lady Panthers ahead, setting up the game-winner by Atkins.
Now 3-4 on the season, the Lady Hornets wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule this Thursday at Conway Blue.
LADY HORNETS 29, LADY PANTHERS 28
Score by quarters
BRYANT 5 6 10 8 — 29
Benton6 7 5 11 — 28
LADY HORNETS 29
Hancock 2-10 5-10 10, Greer 2-9 2-2 6, LaCerra 1-2 0-0 3, Atkins 4-9 2-4 10, Chappell 0-0 0-0 0, Palmer 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan 0-0 0-0 0, Hartz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals9-31 (29%) 9-16 (56%) 29.
LADY PANTHERS 28
Swindle 1-3 0-0 2, Childress 0-2 0-0 0. Wright 0-0 0-2 0, McIntire 3-4 0-0 6, Houston 4-10 4-8 12, Hammett 0-1 0-0 0, Bostian 0-0 0-1 0, Lee 1-4 2-2 4, Bullord 1-1 0-0 3, Harris 0-1 1-2 1, Bufford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals10-26 (38%) 7-15 (47%) 28.
Three-point field goals:Bryant 2-9 (Hancock 1-4, LaCerra 1-2, Greer 0-2, Atkins 0-1), Benton 1-4 (Bullord 1-1, Swindle 0-2, Childress 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 17, Benton 18. Rebounds:Bryant 10-9 19 (Atkins 4-1 5, Hancock 2-2 4, Greer 1-1 2, Jordan 2-0 2, LaCerra 0-1 1, Chappell 0-1 1, team 1-3 4), Benton 10-13 23 (Houston 5-4 9, Childress 2-4 6, Lee 1-1 2, Bullord 0-2 2, Swindle 1-0 1, Hammett 1-0 1, team 0-2 2). Team fouls:Bryant 13, Benton 16.