By Rob Patrick
Photos by Kevin Nagle
PEARCY — With just under four minutes left to play, the Bryant Blue Lady Hornets eighth grade[more] team of Bethel Middle School trailed Lake Hamilton, 21-16. They hadn’t had a field goal since the 1:50 mark of the third quarter when Kendal Rogers followed her own miss to tie the game 15-15.
Lake Hamilton had a chance to increase the 21-16 edge at the free-throw line at the 3:47 mark but missed both shots. Kasey Ward rebounded for the Lady Hornets and, at the other end, Bethany Hutchison stepped up with her first and only basket of the night with 3:33 to go.
That ignited a 12-2 run to close out the game as Bryant Blue improved to 5-1 on the season with a 28-23 comeback victory.
Rogers finished with 14 points, Riley Hill 6. Penny Smith and Sarah Kennedy added 3 apiece and Hutchison had her 2.
The tell-tale run continued with a steal by Ward. Though she misfired, the Lady Hornets got the ball back on a tie-up and Kennedy canned a short jumper off a feed from Rogers to trim the margin to 21-20.
The Bethel press prevented Lake Hamilton from inbounding the ball within the allotted five seconds so the Lady Hornets gave themselves a chance to take the lead. On the inbounds play, Rogers broke free and hit a short jumper to do just that, making it 22-21 with 2:40 to go.
Lake Hamilton’s sudden struggles offensively continued and, off a miss by Hutchison, Hill scored. Rogers added a steal and a layup that had Bryant Blue ahead 26-21 with 1:59 to play.
The Lady Wolves had three chances to change the score but came up empty. Lady Hornets coach Rhonda Hall called a timeout with 1:13 left and, on the inbounds, Rogers drove for a clinching layup.
Lake Hamilton finally broke through with a basket with :54 showing but the Lady Hornets milked the clock to the end from there.
Bryant Blue had struggled mightily on offense early in the game. In fact, the Lady Hornets trailed 7-0 at the end of the first quarter then didn’t break the ice until there was just 3:45 left in the half. Rogers hit the offensive glass to produce the points.
And when Smith followed with a three-point play and Hill added a pair of free throws, the game was suddenly tied 7-7.
Lake Hamilton managed its first basket of the second quarter with 2:13 left. The Lady Wolves held on for a 10-9 lead at the half.
But when Rogers and Hill scored the first two baskets of the second half — the latter following a steal by Smith — Bryant Blue had its first lead at 13-10 with 4:15 left in the third quarter.
After that, however, Rogers’ follow shot, which tied it at 15, and a free throw by Kennedy was all the Lady Hornets could muster before that final blitz.
Bryant Blue is scheduled to return to action on Thursday at 5 p.m., against Conway White, once again preceding the freshman games.