Photos by Kevin Nagle
The Bryant White Lady Hornets eighth grade team of Bryant Middle School shot just 26 percent from the floor on Monday night against the Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves eighth graders. And they were just 3 of 14 from the free-throw line.
But they won going away, 32-7.
How? Consider: In the first quarter alone, the Lady Hornets forced 13 turnovers and allowed Lake Hamilton to attempt just two field goals and two free throws. The turnovers and seven offensive rebounds produced 20 shots from the floor for Bryant along with three free throws.
The Lady Hornets used a stifling press, that head coach Kenny Hays called off in the second half, to give themselves far more opportunities to score.
“We create a lot,” acknowledged Hays.
Lake Hamilton suffered 39 turnovers, gave up 23 offensive rebounds to Bryant, and managed just 18 field-goal attempts in the game. They didn’t actually sink a basket until there was just 1:49 left in the third quarter.
All that produced 53 shots for the Lady Hornets, who improved to 5-0 on the season going into Thursday’s trip to North Little Rock.
Everyone played for Bryant. Celena Martin led the team in scoring with 9 points. Ivory Russ had 8. Tierra Trotter and Tiyanna Robinson picked up 4 points each. Madalynn Thompson hit a 3 while Sierra Trotter and Kayley Terry each had a basket. Alivia Allen was the team’s top rebounder with nine. Martin had six.
As lopsided as the game was, however, Hays was not entirely pleased, measuring his team’s performance more against its own capabilities than its opposition.
“I did tell them at halftime that I was a little bit frustrated with our effort in the first half because it seemed like we let down on a play or two whenever we should have been staying focused and staying intense,” he related. “I tried to remind them to not play to the level of the competition. It’s about their game and trying to get better every play individually and as a team.”
The Lady Hornets held an 18-3 lead at the half, forcing 23 of the turnovers but converting just 8 of 33 shots from the field (24 percent) and 1 of 7 from the line.
“Missed free throws and layups, that’s another thing we got onto them at halftime, missing so many easy layups and so many free throws,” the coach related. “Against a really good team, that could come back and bite you.”
Those numbers improved in the third quarter when the lead ballooned to 30-5.
“I felt like, the second half, overall, we played a lot better,” Hays stated. “We may not have scored as many points but I just felt like we were fundamentally better in the second half when we got a little more focused.”
Russ got the scoring stated with 4:53 left in the first quarter. Martin followed with a jumper in the lane and, later, a steal and layup that forced a timeout for Lake Hamilton.
Robinson converted two free throws and Tierra Trotter got free inside for a basket. An offensive rebound basket for Martin made it 10-0. Later, a steal and layup by Robinson bumped the margin up before Lake Hamilton got its first point from the free-throw line with :06.7 showing on the clock.
A new group started the second quarter for Bryant and Thompson drilled a 3 to make it 15-1. Two free throws completed the scoring in the half for the Lady Wolves with 3:29 left.
In the third quarter, the Lady Hornets, even without the press, put together a 10-0 surge that included two baskets and two free throws by Russ. Tierra Trotter made a steal and layup and, moments later, Robins did the same, making it 28-3 with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
The starters came out at that point and did not return. Sierra Trotter answered Lake Hamilton’s first basket to make it 30-5 going into the fourth quarter. Terry’s basket was the only one for the Lady Hornets after that.