By Rob Patrick
HOT SPRINGS — Sophomore Taneasha Rhode blocked two shots by Hot Springs Lakeside’s Charlene Ellis in the[more] final 10 seconds to help the Bryant Lady Hornets preserve a 43-41 win in the first round of the ninth annual Summit Bank Spa City Shootout Wednesday.
Rhode finally grabbed the ricochet off the second block and was fouled with :01.7 showing. Though she missed two free throws, there wasn’t time for the Lady Rams to get anything better than a three-quarter court heave.
The Lady Hornets, now 8-4, advance to play the highly-regarded Central Arkansas Christian Lady Mustangs Thursday at 7 p.m., in a semifinal at Summit Arena. Malvern and Texarkana, Texas will play in the other semifinal at 4.
Bryant, which won the Classic last season, had a 10-point lead in the third quarter get whittled down to 1 down the stretch but never relinquished the lead despite converting just 3 of 11 free throws in the final quarter.
Lakeside used a 6-0 run that turned into a 10-1 push late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to make it a white-knuckler.
“We’ll have three, four, five State contenders in our conference,” stated Bryant coach Brad Matthews. “We can’t let a 6-0 run bring us down. We’re going to see a lot of 6-0 runs over the next month and we’ve got to mentally be able to withstand that, gather ourselves and fight back.
“We easily could’ve lost,” he acknowledged. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to take that and build on it. Hopefully, as we get into the season, we’ll have a lot of close games and, hopefully, we’ll be able to learn from what we did wrong there at the end. It’s better at this time of year to win and learn than lose and learn.”
For the game, the Lady Hornets finished 14 of 26 from the line (54 percent) and 14 of 48 from the field (29 percent). They were, however, able to force Lakeside into 17 turnovers and out-rebounded the Lady Rams 39-34. Lakeside could only must three rebounds on the offensive end.
“We were rusty,” Matthews said. “We were out of rhythm, didn’t shoot it very well. I thought we got some good shots early that we usually make. But we were rusty. It was the first game after a 12-day layoff and it looked like it. We’re going to have to regroup in a hurry because we’re fixin’ to play a really good CAC team tomorrow.”
Though the Lady Hornets made just three free throws in the final period, the ones they made were crucial. Rhode had one to interrupt that run by the Lady Rams then, after a layup by Keri Manning with 4:16 left in the game had Lakeside within 37-36, Logan Davis converted once.
With 3:54 left, Ellis, who led all scorers with 11 points, had a chance to tie the game but missed the second of her two free throws. In turn, Rhode followed her own miss twice to get the first basket of the final period for Bryant with 3:38 to go, making it 40-37.
Both teams missed chances to change that margin. After Manning missed, Alison Norman rebounded for Lakeside only to have Bryant’s Courtney Davidson tie her up. The Lady Hornets got the ball on the alternating possessions and, with 1:39 left, Whitney Meyer grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. After Meyer converted the first free throw to make it a two-possession game, Lakeside called a timeout. When the teams returned to the lane, Meyer’s second shot rimmed out.
With 1:26 to go, Ellis hit two free throws to cut the margin to 2. In response, Matthews had his team spread the floor. With 1:04 left, Kiara Moore was fouled. Though she was unable to get the first shot to go, the Lady Hornets contested the rebound and Dezerea Duckworth tipped the ball inside to Rhode who scored to make it 43-39.
“I thought our kids were aggressive,” Matthews commented. “I thought Dezerea Duckworth — she’s a sophomore and she’s a great kid, really talented — we need her to be assertive. She’s a really good passer. The tap there at the end to Taneasha, I thought that was a pass. I’m giving her credit for a pass. I thought she was a lot more assertive tonight. We need that going forward. We need all the offense we can get.”
Duckworth contributed 7 points. Davis and Moore led with 9 each and Rhode finished with 8 as 10 of the 11 Lady Hornets that got into the game contributed to the scoring.
Lakeside’s Paige Plumley scored with :47 left, putting what turned out to be the final score on the board. Still, there was plenty of action. With :34 left, Lakeside sent Moore to the line and, again, her free throw refused to fall. But, when Manning went to the line with :27.7 to go with a chance to tie it, she missed the front end.
Bryant was able to whittle the clock to :13.6 before senior Callie Hogancamp was fouled. She too came up empty at the line and Lakeside took a timeout with :12.6 left to set up a play to try to tie it. They wound up getting the ball to Ellis in the paint, only to have Rhode deny her as the Lakeside fans and longtime head coach Gary Smith hollered for a foul call.
“Even though they fouled us, I thought we put ourselves in a position where we almost turned it over two or three times,” Matthew reflected. “We’ve got to be able to run our delay game crisper. It was effective but it wasn’t near as effective as it should be. We got good free throw shooters to the line but it was still a little sloppy at the end.”
The game was nip-and-tuck much of the way. Lakeside had 9-8 lead late in the first quarter but, with no time left on the clock, Bryant junior Peyton Weaver converted two free throws after rebounding a teammate’s miss. That gave the Lady Hornets a 10-9 lead going into the second quarter.
Ellis put the Lady Rams back up early in the second but a leaning jumper by Davidson flipped the lead back. The game was eventually tied at 19 and when Lainey Todorovic hit a free throw with 1:54 left in the half, Lakeside had the lead again.
But when Duckworth hit a 12-footer at the 1:12 mark, Bryant had the lead for good. Haley Murphy hit the offensive glass to add to the lead and when Davis grabbed a carom and scored with :25 left, the Lady Hornets held a 25-20 advantage.
Lakeside trailed 27-24 early in the third when Hogancamp converted a pair of free throws to start a Bryant surge that produced the 10-point margin. Moore canned a running jumper and Duckworth made a steal that she eventually cashed in with a 3 — the only 3 of the game for either team. That made it 34-24 with 2:59 left in the period.
Smith called a timeout and, after Manning and Davis traded buckets, the Lady Rams began their rally. Ellis scored off a lob to make it 36-28 going into the fourth. Norman opened the fourth quarter with a pair of baskets and another after Rhode hit a free throw. That set the stage for Manning’s layup that cut the margin to one.
LADY HORNETS 43, LADY RAMS 41
Score by quarters
BRYANT1015117 — 43
Lakeside911813 — 41
LADY HORNETS (8-4) 43
Davis 4-111-31-2 329
LADY RAMS (5-3) 41
Ellis2-97-8 1-3 4211
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-12 (Duckworth 1-1, Moore 0-4, Davis 0-3, Hogancamp 0-3, Ball 0-1), Lakeside 0-7 (Manning 0-2, Norman 0-2, King 0-2, Ellis 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Lakeside 17.