CABOT — With 2:05 left in the first half, the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team was within 2 points of the Cabot Red Lady Panthers Thursday night. They’d fallen behind 7-0 but battled back.
The Lady Panthers put together a 9-3 run to end the half, however, then extended the run to 17-3 in the third quarter on the way to a 38-22 win at the South Junior High gym.
Gamely, the Lady Hornets whittled the resulting 16-point deficit down to 10 and had a chance to get closer still but a 3-point shot rimmed out and Red eventually pushed the lead back out to 16.
The loss ended Bryant’s hopes of reaching the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference post-season tournament. The Lady Hornets will conclude their season on Thursday, Feb. 19, at Conway White.
The lid was on the basket for the Lady Hornets, who were challenged by the long, lanky Lady Panthers. Cabot Red packed a zone around Bryant post Raven Loveless, the team’s leading scorer, and held her to 3 points. Point guard Paige Adams led the team with 8 points. Daniele Singleton also had 3. Baylee Rowton, Maddie Miller, Kelly Williams and Anna Inman scored 2 points each.
Jessica Vaughan and Olivia Alcantara each had 10 to lead the Lady Panthers.
Rowton drained a 15-foot jumper to get the Lady Hornets on the board with :35.3 left in the first quarter. Singleton added a free throw and, despite the slow start, they were within 7-3 going into the second stanza.
A driving jumper by Miller made it a 2-point game then the Lady Hornets had a series of opportunities to get closer or take a lead but two empty trips to the free throw line prevented it. Williams followed the second empty trip with a steal but a turnover cost them the possession.
That’s when Alcantara hit the offensive glass for a basket to start Cabot Red’s game-breaking run. Chloe Thompson drove for a layup and Vaughan drained a 12-footer to make it 13-5.
But Adams kept Bryant close with a 3 in the final minute. Williams made another steal but a missed shot ensued as time was running out in the half. Vaughan rebounded the miss and rushed up the floor and, from just inside the midcourt line, threw in a 3-pointer that banked in at the buzzer.
That proved to be huge because, not only had the Lady Panthers extended the halftime lead to 16-8, they opened the second half with a 3 by Ryane Thurman. Vaughan made a steal and hit a free throw and, after a pair of missed chances for Bryant, she drove for a layup.
Another miscue by the Lady Hornets was cashed in by Alcantara with a jump hook that made it 24-8. Bryant’s first points of the half came when Loveless made a steal and worked the ball upcourt before dishing to Williams for a basket.
Cabot’s Lesley Roberts hit a free throw to make it 25-10 going into the fourth quarter. The Lady Hornets answered with the first 5 points of the final period. Following her own miss, Loveless was fouled. She converted 1 of 2 at the line. But, moments later, she knocked down a baseline jumper to make it a 12-point difference.
Adams drove the lane and scored as she was fouled to make it 10-point margin. She missed the free throw but scrambled after the rebound. Ralae Benton got a look at a 3 but it refused to fall.
Cabot Red proceeded to push the difference back out with a driving basket by Vaughan and an offensive-rebound basket by Brittany Stull. Singleton answered by hitting a 12-footer but a three-point play by Roberts kept the Lady Panthers’ lead comfortable.
After Alcantara converted twice at the free-throw line, Adams came through with a 3-point play to cut it to 34-20 but the Lady Hornets missed some chances to get closer. Inman added the final Bryant basket at the :34 mark. Allison Laney finished off the scoring for Cabot in the final seconds.