By Rob Patrick
CABOT — The Bryant Lady Hornets freshman basketball team entered the week tied with North Little Rock and Cabot South atop the South Division of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference. All three were 4-0 in divisional play.
And then there was one.
On Monday, the Lady Hornets knocked North Little Rock off the top of the ladder with a 40-22 win while Cabot South was getting upended by the Benton Lady Panthers. On Thursday, with Bryant visiting, Cabot South had a chance to throw the league into a three-way tie again but, in a rugged, desperately-contested fight, Bryant spoiled those plans with a 47-34 win that knocked South’s Lady Panthers two games off the pace.[more]
The Lady Hornets not only kept their league mark unblemished at 6-0 but improved to 16-0 on the season going into a home showdown against the surging Benton team on Monday.
Bryant frustrated the Lady Panthers with its defensive work but also with its aggressive approach on offense, attacking the basket and handling Cabot’s pressure defense unflinchingly.
By halftime, Cabot South had one starter with three fouls, three starters with two and a reserve with two. In the end, three Lady Panthers fouled out with another finishing with four fouls.
And they were without their head coach for the game after she had been ejected during the loss at Benton earlier in the week. Cabot High School coach and former Bryant High School coach Carla Crowder sat behind the Lady Panthers' bench in support of the young freshman team assistant.
Bryant wound up shooting 33 free throws to Cabot’s 11. Neither shot well from the line but the Lady Hornets came through when they had to down the stretch, finishing 18 of 33.
The foul trouble and defense limited Cabot’s two primary scorers. El Taylor and Jaylin Bridges each finished with 9 points.
Meanwhile, Bryant’s McKenzie Adams refused to be stopped by the Lady Panthers finishing with 25 points despite a 7 of 14 performance at the free-throw line. Kiara Moore, who sat out much of the first half with two fouls, finished with 6 points. Logan Davis and Courtney Davidson 5 each, McKenzie Rice 4 and Lauren Buck 2.
Davidson led Bryant with six rebounds and, when Bryant was in man-to-man, did a lot of the work limiting Taylor. Meanwhile, Moore and Adams took turns at slowing down Bridges.
The Lady Hornets blew up a close game with a 14-1 blitz in the third quarter which produced the first double-digit lead for either team in the contest. The advantage eventually ballooned to as much as 16, too much for Cabot South to overcome, though they were able to whittle the margin to 10 in the final minute. Adams converted 3 of 4 free throws at crunch time after that and the Lady Hornets held Cabot scoreless over the final 53 seconds to secure the victory.
Both teams scuffled to start. Cabot South managed a 5-1 lead going into the final minute of the first quarter. Adam’s driving jumper provided her team with its first field goal with :59 left in the period. Layups by Samantha Raveling and Lauren Morris boosted the Cabot lead to 9-3 before Adams beat the buzzer on a drive into the lane to make it a 4-point game to start the second period.
Both teams had chances to change the score as the new stanza unfolded. Finally, Adams hit the offensive boards for a basket. The lead seesawed until, with 2:35 left in the half, Adams converted a pair of free throws to put her team up 14-13. The Lady Hornets were thus ahead to stay.
Moments later, Rice knocked down two from the stripe and, after a Cabot turnover, Davis added a free throw to make it 17-13. Abbey Allgood broke the Lady Panthers dryspell only to have Adams score off another drive to put Bryant up 19-15 at the break.
And when Moore hit two free throws and Adams knocked down a short jumper to start the second half, Bryant held a 23-15 advantage. Taylor answered inside then Bridges connected on a 3. When Bridges scored at the 3:51 mark, the Lady Panthers were back within a point at 23-22.
But Adams drained a clutch 15-footer to spark a Bryant run. Moore flushed a trey then Adams made a steal and hit a free throw. Buck swiped the ball leading to a 3-pointer by Davis. And when Buck hit a long jumper from the corner off a nice feed from Adams to answer a free throw by Allgood, Bryant had a lead of 33-23.
It stayed that way going into the final minute of the period when Davis connected on a pair of free throws and, after a Cabot turnover, Adams scored on the backside of the Cabot zone thanks to a nice lob feed from Moore.
Bryant led 37-25 going into the fourth quarter and promptly pushed the lead to its apex. Rice scored inside and Adams hit another running jumper to make it 41-25 with 4:23 left.
Despite losing Allgood and Bridges to fouls, Cabot made a push over the next three minutes and when Taylor hit a free throw with :53.2 showing, the margin was down to 44-34.
But by then the Lady Panthers were in chase mode defensively and wound up having to foul whomever they could get to. Bryant only converted 3 of 8 from the line during that stretch but it was enough in conjunction with the defensive effort.
LADY HORNETS 47, LADY PANTHERS 34
Score by quarters
BRYANT 5 14 18 10 — 47
Cabot South 9 6 10 9 — 34
LADY HORNETS 47
Moore 1-6 3-6 6, Adams 9-16 7-14 25, Davis 1-6 3-4 5, Buck 1-2 0-0 2, Davidson 1-3 3-3 5, Rice 1-4 2-4 4, Meyer 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 14-38 18-33 47.
LADY PANTHERS 34
Bridges 4-8 0-0 9, Taylor 4-10 1-4 9, Morris 2-4 2-2 6, Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Allgood 1-5 2-5 4, Strickland 1-4 0-0 2, Raveling 2-2 0-0 4, Cortes 0-1 0-0 0, Burnett 0-0 0-0 0, Ellison 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-34 5-11 34.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-3 (Moore 1-2, Adams 0-1), Cabot South 1-3 (Bridges 1-3). Rebounds: Bryant 29 (Davidson 6, Adams 5), Cabot South 27 (Taylor 7). Turnovers: Bryant 7, Cabot South 15. Team fouls: Bryant 13, Cabot South 23. Fouled out: Cabot South, Bridges, Morris, Allgood.