Bryant White opens with victory over Lady Eagles

VILONIA — Kylee Fleharty pumped in 17 points including a trio of 3-pointers to lead the Bryant White Lady Hornets eighth-grade basketball team to a 38-28 victory in their season-opening game against the Vilonia Lady Eagles eighth-graders on Thursday.

“I was very proud of how aggressive we were on defense and how we were able to get our arms and hands in the passing lanes,” said Lady Hornets coach Ben Perry. “We ran the floor well and got back in transition on defense.

“I did not like how we did not rebound very well but with a season-opening game I thought the girls played hard and they hustled on both sides of the ball,” he added. “It was good to see them run an offense effectively and pick their shots.”

Jayla Knight had 8, Lyniyae Johnson and Haya Winfield added 4 each with Brooklyn Welch pitching in with a 3 and Lauren Lain scoring 2.

The Lady Hornets opened with a 10-0 run that included Welch’s 3 and one of Fleharty’s on back-to-back trips up the court. Fleharty and Knight hit layups to cap the run.

They went cold after that and Vilonia cut the lead to 10-8 by the end of the quarter.

“We didn’t rebound well, allowing second-chance points by Vilonia,” Perry noted.

“We started the second quarter focusing on rebounding and our half-court defense,” he said.

Fleharty hit another 3 and the Lady Hornets were able to turn the Lady Eagles over and the lead expanded to 18-12 at the half.

“The girls were excited but had to be reminded that 6 points is nothing in basketball,” Perry related.

Fleharty popped another 3 to start the third quarter and a pair of steals led to layups by Johnson and it was 25-18 going into the fourth quarter.

“They pressed us and managed to make it a 4-point game,” said Perry. “We regrouped and broke the press and then made some critical shots. In the last minute and a half, I reminded the girls that we were ahead and didn’t have to rush a shot no matter what they heard from the stands. I told them to be patient and look for open lanes for layups. Time was on our side.”

The Lady Hornets proceeded to close out the win.

“We struggled getting to the free-throw line, shooting only 6 of 12 compared to 5 of 13 for Vilonia,” the coach said. “We were out-rebounded 26-24 but we made 17 steals and had 18 deflections, so our defense was very active.”

The Lady Hornets forced 25 turnovers while committing 23.

“Kylee Fleharty seemed that she could throw just about anything in the air and it had a good chance of going in,” Perry said. “I would start to tell her no and then the next thing it was going in. She was on fire with her shooting last night.

“The bench and the players were excited,” he added. “This was a good win for them to shake off the bad feelings of last year. They have worked hard, and it is starting to show. We will try and roll that momentum on as we take on Bethel next Thursday at Bethel. Bethel is a good team and it is well coached. It will be another hard test for the Bryant ladies.”

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