By Rob Patrick
CABOT — With their leading scorer at home sick and facing a team they lost to at home by 10, prospects didn't look too bright for the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team when it took on the Cabot South Junior Lady Panthers on Thursday, Feb. 5.
And when the Lady Panthers wound up attempting 22 free throws compared to just three for the Lady Hornets — well, who'd have believed that the Lady Hornets had a chance to win right up until the last few seconds.
But Cabot's Laci Boyett converted both ends of a one-and-one with :05.5 showing to seal up a 46-41 win that secured second place in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Conference for the Lady Panthers. The Lady Hornets, 16-6 overall, dropped to 9-4 in the division with the two teams ahead of them Cabot South and unbeaten champion North Little Rock accounting for all of their league losses.
Bryant finishes out the regular season at home against the rival Benton Lady Panthers on Monday, Feb. 9. The league's post-season tournament commences on Valentine's Day in Greenbrier.[more]
"I thought we had several players step up big tonight," declared Bryant coach Eric Andrews. "I told them after the game that I was extremely proud of the effort. I thought we played harder than we've been playing the last few games. Of course, not having (the ailing) London (Abernathy) out there hurts us a little bit but I thought we had some girls step up big, hit some big shots. I thought we played with a lot of intensity on defense. If we can keep our intensity level like that I think we're going to be ready to roll come tournament time."
As it turned out, the Lady Hornets finished the game with more field goals made (18 to 14), more 3-point field goals made (3-1), fewer turnovers (13-17) and a rebound advantage (27-23). The free throws made the difference with Cabot converting 17 of 22 while Bryant converted two of their three.
"It's one of those deals where we've got to be more aggressive offensively," Andrews commented. "And defensively, we've got to be able to contain better. We've got to keep them from getting underneath the basket where we have a hard time guarding people at times. We've got to make sure we move our feet and not let them get around us."
Post players Boyett and Jessica Grunwald proved tough for the smaller Lady Hornets to deal with. They combined for 28 of their team's points with Boyett picking up 7 of her game-high 17 from the line.
Bryant was paced by Kayla Sory with 9. Jessie Taylor added 8 with Cassidy Wilson, Raegan Barker, Casey Lee and Callie Hogancamp each pitching in with 6 points.
The game was tight throughout the first half. In fact, it was tied at 6 after a quarter then at 8 and 17 in the second period. Hogancamp nailed a 3 with :35 left in the half to give Bryant a 20-19 edge. Boyett answered inside with :12.6 to go only to have Barker drain a 12-footer with :06 showing that gave the Lady Hornets a 22-21 halftime edge.
But the third quarter was a frustrating one for the Lady Hornets. Cabot scored the first 8 points of the period. The resulting 7-point advantage was 8, 37-29, by the end of the period. And when Grunwald scored inside to start the fourth quarter, the Lady Panthers had their largest lead at 39-29.
It was 41-31 before Bryant began its rally, jumping back into full-court pressure which hadn't been very productive early in the game. But with the game on the line, the Lady Hornets intensified their effort. Barger started the rally with a 12-foot jumper at the 4:52 mark. The Lady Hornets then forced three turnovers on consecutive possessions. They were only able to take advantage on the last of those when Wilson drained a jumper. Another turnover — Cabot committed 10 of their 17 miscues in the fourth quarter — led to a short jumper by Lee off a nice feed from Wilson that suddenly had Bryant within 4, 41-37, going into the final two minutes of play.
The Lady Hornets almost had another turnover, this time a five-second violation on inbounding the ball, but got a timeout to avoid giving up the rock. But Bryant forced another pair of turnovers and, after the second, Barker's 3-point try to everything but go in.
Sydney Wacker increased the lead at the line with :49.7 showing, only to have Sory pop a jumper in the lane as she was fouled with :40 left. Though she missed what turned out to be Bryant's third and final free throw, she had pulled the Lady Hornets within 43-39. A free throw by Sarah Fowler made it 44-39 but when Taylor scored off the offensive glass with :07 left, Bryant was still within 3, 44-41. Only to have Boyett connect on those final two freebies.
JUNIOR LADY PANTHERS 46, JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 41
Score by quarters
BRYANT 6 16 7 12 — 41
Cabot South 6 15 16 9 — 46
JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 41
Barker 3-10 0-0 6, Wilson 2-7 2-2 6, Sory 4-11 0-1 9, Lee 3-9 0-0 6, Taylor 4-9 0-0 8, C.Hogancamp 2-6 0-0 6, Blundell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-52 2-3 41.
JUNIOR LADY PANTHERS 46
Westcott 0-2 1-2 1, Boyett 5-8 7-10 17, Wacker 2-4 4-4 8, Parsley 2-4 0-0 4, Fowler 0-2 1-2 1, Turner1-3 2-2 4, Bruce 0-0 0-0 0, Waddel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-29 17-22 46.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-10 (Hogancamp 2-3, Sory 1-4, Barker 0-2, Wilson 0-1), Cabot South 1-4 (Grunwald 1-1, Westcott 0-2, Turner 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 27 (Wilson 6, Lee, Taylor 5), Cabot South 23 (Boyett 8). Turnovers: Bryant 13, Cabot South 17. Total fouls: Bryant 16, Cabot South 12. Fouled out: Bryant, Taylor.