Bryant freshman girls make quick work of Cabot North

CABOT — Sometimes the biggest challenge for a really good team isn’t so much their opposition, it’s the pursuit of fulfilling their potential. Just how good can a team like the Bryant Lady Hornets freshmen be? How far can they stretch the proverbial envelope? And, can you get there while playing against over-matched foes?

That’s where the 2016 Lady Hornets freshmen and their coaches Nathan Castaldi and DeAnna Ward are right now, after swamping the Cabot North Lady Panthers, 42-19, on Monday night.

The win improved the Lady Hornets to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference going into their Thanksgiving break. They’ll return to action on Monday, Nov. 28.

“It’s hard to complain about a big win like that but there’s obviously some things we need to continually work on,” Castaldi said. “We got up big to start and I thought our intensity level dropped off some. I wasn’t very pleased with that. We talked about playing a good solid 24 minutes. But we played that good quarter to start then it kind of went down.”

Everybody played and Castaldi used the opportunity to mix and match instead of playing in three platoons of five.

“There were obviously some good things to build on that,” he said. “We got to see what some other kids can do in different situations. That was good.”

But the coach knows there will be tougher challenges ahead, this year and beyond. After all, everyone wants to knock off the top team.

“I stole it from the Cubs,” he said, referencing Major League Baseball’s World Series champions from Chicago, “about embracing the target. Everybody’s going to give us their best shot. When you are that target, you’re expectations are increased. That doesn’t mean that sometimes a win is not what we want it to be.”

The Lady Hornets overwhelmed the Lady Panthers, forcing 22 turnovers in the first half and 35 for the game. That’s more than their shot attempts (17) and free throws (11) combined. They couldn’t break the press and, when the Lady Hornets dropped back into half-court defense, they couldn’t run their offense whether it was Bryant’s first team or third.

Offensively, McKenzie Muse had a night with 13 points and five rebounds. Point guard Tierra Trotter knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and scored 9, all in the first half, to burn Cabot North when they tried to pack a zone in around Muse and Ivory Russ as other teams have been trying to do. Russ finished with 8 points.

Bryant scored the first 9 points of the game. Muse scored inside, Celena Martin drained a 15-footer from the wing and Trotter added a free throw as the Lady Panthers’ struggles to get the ball up the floor resulted in a timeout.

When play resumed, Russ made a nice feed to Muse for a bucket then Trotter scored off a steal to make it 9-0.

Cabot North got on the board with 1:59 left in the first quarter but the Lady Hornets closed out the period with baskets by Tyianna Robinson and Muse plus a three-point play from Russ on a short drive to the rack.

That made it 16-2 going into the second stanza.

As Castaldi began working in his reserves, the Lady Hornets struggled to score in the second quarter. In fact, the Lady Hornets wound up with 22 turnovers of their own in the game.

The Lady Panthers managed to cut the lead to 16-6 before Kinley Oholendt made a steal and a layup to break the dryspell at the 2:23 mark. Muse got an assist on a kickout pass to Trotter for a 3 and, after two free throws for Cabot North, Trotter buries a second triple in the final minute of the half to make it 24-8.

Bryant opened the second half with another surge to push the margin to 36-10. Russ’ steal and layup got the roll going. Muse added four free throws and, after Russ added one, she fed Muse for a trey to make it 34-10. Russ capped the blitz with a post-up bucket.

To end the quarter, a Cabot North player was fouled on a desperate 3-point try and was fouled. At the line by herself, she converted once to make it 36-11 going into the fourth quarter.

Lexi Taylor hit a 15-footer to start the scoring in the final period. Cabot North scored 8 of its points down the stretch but baskets by Natalie Harlee and Truli Bates helped offset that for Bryant.


Score by quarters

BRYANT          16       8          12       6 — 42

Cabot North   2          6          3          8 — 19


T.Trotter 3-5 1-2 9, Martin 1-3 0-0 2, Taylor 1-7 0-0 2, Russ 3-5 2-5 8, Muse 4-9 4-4 13, Robinson 1-3 0-0 2, Scifres 0-1 0-0 0, S.Trotter 0-0 0-0 0, Baker 0-0 0-0 0, Deaton 0-4 0-0 0, Oholendt 1-1 0-1 2, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Scott 0-0 0-0 0, Allen 0-2 0-0 0, Bates 1-1 0-0 2, Harlee 1-1 0-1 2, Williams 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 15-44 7-13 42.


Ogilvie 1-4 1-5 3, Hall 0-2 0-0 0, Ball 4-8 2-2 10, Killingsworth 0-2 4-4 4, Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Carter 0-0 0-0 0, Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Honea 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 6-17 7-11 19.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-7 (T.Trotter 2-2, Muse 1-2, Taylor 0-2, Scifres 0-1), Cabot North 0-1 (Ogilvie 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 22, Cabot North 35. Rebounds: Bryant 22-9 31 (Muse 4-1 5, Deaton 5-0 5, Taylor 3-0 3, Baker 2-1 3, Allen 0-2 2, Bates 1-1 2, T.Trotter 1-0 1, Russ 1-0 1, Scifres 0-1 1, Oholendt 1-0 1, Thompson 0-1 1, Scott 0-1 1, Harlee 1-0 1, team 3-1 4), Cabot North 4-11 15 (Ogilvie 2-4 6, Smith 0-3 3, Ball 2-0 2, Killingsworth 0-1 1, Honea 0-1 1, team 0-2 2). Team fouls: Bryant 15, Cabot North 13.

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