By Rob Patrick
CABOT — In the first half against the Cabot North Junior Lady Panthers, the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman[more] basketball team had its share of trouble against the aggressive full-court trapping defense but when they got the opportunities to score, they were able to make shots. Enough so that they led initially 5-0 and, in the second quarter, 9-7, before the Lady Panthers evened it up at 9 going into the break.
In the second half, however, the turnovers continued but the shots refused to go down. They still were getting pretty good ones once they broke the press, including a few from point-blank range. But the lid was on the basket as Cabot North surged to a 27-14 victory on its home floor.
The game was the first conference contest of the season for the Lady Hornets. They’re next Central Arkansas Junior High Conference contest will be Thursday at home against the rival Benton Lady Panthers.
Two free throws by Mallory Curry and a 3-pointer by Nikki Clay had the Lady Hornets off to their fast start. But Cabot North rallied in the final two minutes of the first quarter and, capped by a 3 from Rachel Murtishaw, grabbed a 7-5 edge going into the second quarter.
Taylor Lindberg drained a baseline jumper to tie the game for Bryant and, moments later, Kierra Solinger cut into the lane, took a nice feed from Curry and nailed an 8-foot jumper to put the Lady Hornets back on top, 9-7.
After a Cabot miss, Bryant worked the same play and, in a series of events all too indicative of the Lady Hornets’ star-crossed season to this point, it worked. Solinger hit the shot but a foul was called against Cabot North just before she released her shot. The points were waved off and the Lady Hornets were awarded the ball out of bounds. A subsequent turnover made it a most frustrating possession.
But the Lady Hornets were holding the Lady Panthers scoreless in the period and the 9-7 lead held until the Lady Panthers drew even with 1:26 on a jumper by Emilee Colvin.
In the second half, Cabot gained the upper hand with a 10-0 run at the start. The Lady Hornets ended their drought when Katie Davidson grabbed an offensive rebound — one of her six in the game, matching Clay for team-high honors — and was fouled. She converted once with 1:19 left in the period.
Jayla Anderson, plagued by foul trouble in the game, came through with a basket as she was fouled with :31 left in the quarter. Though she was unable to get the free throw to fall, it had the lead down to 19-12.
But that was as close as Bryant would get. Baskets by Kelsey Eggers and Jordan Slayden had the Lady Panthers up 23-12 before the Lady Hornets could score again. Free throws by Clay and Jerrica Gray trimmed it back to 23-14 but those were the only two of what could’ve been six free throws in three trips to the line in the last two minutes for Bryant.
In the final minute, Slayden and Emily McCaghren scored on drives out of Cabot North’s spread offense to set the final score.
JUNIOR LADY PANTHERS 27, JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 14
Score by quarters
BRYANT 5 4 3 2 — 14
Cabot North 7 2 12 6 — 27
JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 14
Clay 1-4 1-2 4, Anderson 1-3 0-1 2, Davidson 0-3 1-2 1, Lindberg 1-5 0-0 2, Curry 0-2 2-2 2, Solinger 1-3 0-1 2, Giffin 0-1 0-0 0, Powers 0-0 0-0 0, Gray 0-0 1-2 1, Jamison 0-0 0-0 0, Barber 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 4-21 5-10 14.
JUNIOR LADY PANTHERS 27
Colvin 1-5 0-0 2, Attendorn 0-4 0-0 0, Thompson 1-5 2-2 4, Wright 1-3 2-4 4, Slayden 3-8 0-0 6, McCaghren 2-5 0-1 4, Murtishaw 2-3 0-0 5, Terry 0-1 0-0 0, Eggers 1-4 0-0 2, Odom 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-38 4-7 27.
Three-point field goal: Bryant 1-4 (Clay 1-3, Anderson 0-1), Cabot North 1-3 (Murtishaw 1-1, Colvin 0-1, Attendorn 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 27 (Clay, Davidson 6), Cabot North 21 (Wright 6). Turnovers: Bryant 23, Cabot North 11. Team fouls: Bryant 8, Cabot North 14.