Bryant Blue girls perform in the clutch to get past Sheridan

SHERIDAN — Rori Whittaker had a clutch basket and, in the final minute, Erica Smith hit a pair of key free throws as the Bryant Blue Lady Hornets eighth grade team of Bethel Middle School outlasted the Sheridan Stingers eighth grade team, 22-15.

Whittaker, who sealed the win with two free throws with :25.1 left finished with a team-high 8 points. Dezarea Duckworth added 6, Smith 4 and Andrea Buford 4.[more]

The Lady Hornets were clinging to a 16-13 lead going into the final three minutes of the game. Both teams had numerous opportunities to change the score but turnovers and missed free throws kept it a 3-point game going into the final 1:30. Sheridan, in fact, came up empty on two trips to the line in the interim.

Finally, with 1:24 left, Whittaker knocked down an eight-foot jumper to bump the lead to 5. Sheridan’s Allie Wilkins answered with 1:04 left to make it 18-15.

The Lady Hornets worked the clock until, with :47.9 showing, Smith was fouled on a shot inside. She converted both shots.

Sheridan, in turn, missed a shot at an answering bucket and Whittaker rebounded. She was fouled immediately and, at the other end, converted both ends of the one-and-one to set the final score. She then combined with Buford to force a turnover.

Bryant, with Buford scoring all 4 of her points and Duckworth adding 4 of hers, built a 10-2 lead in the first half. It was 6-2 going into the second quarter. Duckworth scored on a drive to open the scoring in the second then Keedy Harrison made a steal and Duckworth, trailing the play, collected the rebound off a missed shot and scored.

That came with 4:02 left in the half. But the Lady Hornets didn’t score again the rest of the period.

But they kept Sheridan from hitting a field goal until there was just 1:02 left in the half when Morgan White hit a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 10-6 at the break.

Sheridan was within 12-10 in the final moments of the third quarter but Whittaker beat the buzzer with a short jumper and, to start the fourth, Duckworth scored off a nice give-and-go with Whittaker to make it 16-10.

While Bryant was unable to add to its total over the next three minutes, Sheridan could only whittle 3 points off the margin on a basket and a free throw by Wilkins.

The Lady Hornets are scheduled to return to action at home against Hot Springs Lakeside on Thursday, Jan. 28.

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