By Rob Patrick
After their 36-15 loss against the rival Bryant Blue eighth grade girls on Tuesday, Bryant White head coach DeAnna Ward stated that her Lady Hornets, “have got to get better at putting the ball in the hole.”
On Thursday, when the team hosted Sheridan, they did just that in a frenzied 38-36 overtime victory at the Bryant Middle School gym.[more]
"Wow! What a difference a year makes!" declared Ward after the victory. "This team really struggled last year as seventh graders. They have worked so hard to improve and it is finally coming together for them."
Becka Shaddon banked in a jump shot to start the overtime, giving the Lady Hornets a 35-33 lead that they never relinquished. Melinda Murdock added a free throw to extend the margin to 3 then both teams scrambled until, with :55.6 showing on the clock, Sheridan’s Autumn Clark hit a free throw to make it a 2-point game again.
The Lady Stingers forced a Bryant White turnover but, the Lady Hornets returned the favor and, with :34 to go, Alex Wright grabbed the rebound off a teammate’s miss and scored to give her team a 38-34 advantage.
A driving jumper by Laurel Mitchell trimmed the lead to 2 again with :21 to play and with :17.9 to go, Ward called a timeout to avoid a turnover. When play resumed, Shaddon was fouled but the front end of the one-and-one refused to fall and the Lady Stingers had a chance to tie or take the lead. But Clark misfired and, on the rebound, Bryant’s Katie Whitworth saved the ball from going out of bounds, knocking it off a Sheridan player to retain possession for the Lady Hornets.
With :03 to go, the Lady Stingers forced a turnover but they were unable to get a shot away before time ran out against the hustling Lady Hornets’ defense.
Wright led the Lady Hornets with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Nine of her rebounds came at the offensive end. Murdock added 9 points including a pair of clutch baskets in the closing minutes of regulation. Destin Nichols had 6, Kaitlyn Greer and Brittany Privett 4 each, Shaddon and Addie Chaloupka 2 apiece.
"Our point guard, Destin Nichols, is really taking charge on the court and becoming a leader," Ward mentioned. "Alex Wright had one of the best games she has ever played. She really crashed the boards. Alex had some great post moves and was just much more aggressive than usual. Melinda Murdock did a frantastic job defensively. She has speed and great hands. Her shooting has really improved. Melinda didn't play basketball last year and is learning game by game. Katy Stillman is playing very consistently. She played unselfishly and led the team in assists. I am very proud of the way all the girls played."
The game was full of streaks. Sheridan scored the first four points of the game then Nichols got Bryant on the board. A pair of offensive-rebound baskets by Greer enabled the Lady Hornets to pull into a 6-6 tie.
The Lady Stingers, however, put together an 11-4 run to build a seven-point lead in the second quarter.
Mitchell wound up leading Sheridan with 11 points. Janie Cummings had 7, Allie Wilkins and Morgan White 6 each. White’s three-point play highlighted the second-quarter streak.
Thanks to baskets by Wright and Nichols in the late stages of the half, the Lady Hornets were able to stay within 21-14 at the break.
White scored the first basket of the third quarter then the Lady Hornets took their turn at a run pushing a 12-3 blitz into the early stages of the fourth quarter. Nichols’ steal and layup got the run going. Privett added a 10-foot jumper before Cummings interrupted with a three-point play for Sheridan.
But Murdock scored on an inbounds play and, after Shaddon forced a turnover, Wright grabbed a carom on the offensive end and scored. Another hoop from the corner by Privett trimmed the lead to 26-24 going into the fourth quarter.
Sheridan had a chance to extend that margin at the free-throw line early in the final period but missed two shots from the line. At the other end, Wright posted up and hit a turnaround shot to pull Bryant White even.
Wilkins ended Sheridan’s frustrations with a bucket and Clark converted a pair of free throws to make it a 4-point lead. Wright followed her own miss for Bryant but Mitchell drained a 3-pointer and Sheridan held a 33-28 lead going into the final three minutes of the game.
After a timeout, the Lady Hornets rallied, starting with an attack on the offensive boards. Greer misfired but Wright followed twice before being fouled with 2:58 left. She converted one free throw then the Lady Hornets forced a turnover that led to a driving hoop by Murdock. Another quick turnover and Murdock cashed in with a 15-footer that evened the score at 33.
Neither team could snap that deadlock the rest of regulation. At one point, Wright made a steal but Sheridan’s White blocked a shot by Mosby. At the other end, White missed and Nichols rebounded.
Bryant called timeout with 1:17 left. The result was two good looks but neither Mosby nor Wright could get a shot to go. Nichols made a steal but was cited for an offensive foul as she drove to the other end.
Another Sheridan turnover produced another shot by Nichols only to have it blocked. Wright rebounded but missed and, with :13 left, Mitchell was fouled to give Sheridan a chance to snap the tie. But she missed the front end. Mosby had another shot blocked at the other end and the rebound went out off of a Bryant player. Sheridan called time with :05.7 showing to set up a play but the Lady Hornets foiled the play, forcing a turnover. Murdock made the steal and got to the three-point line on the right wing. But her shot was blocked sending the game to overtime.
The win was the first of the young season for Bryant White. They’ll travel to Sheridan for a rematch and a B game on Saturday.