Clutch free throws by gritty Montgomery lifts Lady Hornets

By Rob Patrick

CABOT — With just under a minute left to play in a frenzied, physical, hotly-contested 7A-Central Conference showdown, Bryant guard Haley Montgomery, all 5 feet, 2 inches (maybe?) of her was attacking the rack trying to answer a basket by Cabot’s Brooke Taylor had hit to get her team within 2 points, 65-63.

Taylor’s basket had ended a scintillating, clutch 8-0 run by Bryant that had turned a 61-57 deficit into a 65-61 lead.

Now anyone who has seen Montgomery play basketball or soccer knows she is tough. And fearless. Her drive right at Shelby Ashcraft, one of four Cabot players 6-feet or taller, ended with Ashcraft decking her. The back of Montgomery’s head bounced on the floor with a thud. And she stayed down, clutching her head and writhing in pain as the trainer rushed out to check on her.

A few minutes later, she was helped to her feet and led to the bench as teammate Kenzee Calley returned to the game to shoot her free throws.

Calley made one and Bryant’s lead was 3.

With :35 left, Stephanie Glover, another of Cabot’s 6-footers, scored inside to make it 66-65. After a timeout, the Lady Panthers forced a turnover and, with :28.3 showing, Taylor Rosel went to the line with a chance to tie it or put Cabot ahead as Bryant senior forward Anna Simpson fouled out.

Rosel made the second of the two free throws and, lo and behold, back came Haley Montgomery into the game.And wouldn’t you know, she got the ball right away against the Cabot press and was fouled with :24.4 to go. So, there she was, headache and all, lining up crucial free throws with the game tied.

She hit them both, of course.[more]

At the other end, the Lady Panthers worked for a good shot but the Lady Hornet defense frustrated them repeatedly until reserve Brett Ann Abshure wound up taking her first shot of the game.

It missed and Taylor Hughes rebounded. She was fouled with :06.5 left in the game.After missing the first attempt at the line, Hughes calmly made the second to make it a 3-point lead.

And against the Bryant press, Cabot struggled to get a shot to tie it. Janna Bailey’s long attempt was short and the Lady Hornets had held on for an impressive 69-66 win on the road against a contender in the 7A-Central.

Bryant improved to 14-2 overall, 5-0 in the league tied with North Little Rock, the team’s next opponent, for first place. Cabot dropped to 13-5 and 3-2, in a group of teams two games off the lead.

“We’ve talked so much with the girls that we want to protect home and steal some on the road or whatever we can do, whatever it takes, to win by one or win by three or whatever,” stated Bryant head coach Blake Condley. “To get one on the road is huge. And it’s against a good team. Cabot, they’re big, they’ve got good guards, we just had some girls step up and make plays down the stretch.

“This is a group of girls who have set a common goal and whatever it takes, I feel like they’re going to pull together,” he added. “If one girl’s down, another one tries to rise up and pick up the slack. They’re a great group of encouragers, great attitudes, great chemistry this year. I don’t feel like we have a selfish girl on the team. There’s just a lot of good things going on right now.”

A game after all five starters reached double figures in scoring, this time the bulk of it was hauled by Alana Morris and Hannah Goshien. Morris struck for 27 to go with a game-high 11 rebounds. Goshien connected on 4-of-7 shots from 3-point range — the third straight game she’s hit four treys — for 18 points.

The Lady Hornets kept the game up-tempo much of the way though they uncharacteristically committed more turnovers (23) than they forced (18).

“As I’ve said before, the pace of the game is important for us, to make sure the pace is quick, using our speed,” Condley emphasized. “A slower game would lend more to their post players. We were able to get (the score) into the upper 60s and that’s good for us.

“Alana played great tonight. She took over. She did the bulk of the scoring tonight which was great. We needed it.”

Morris keyed the surge that put the Lady Hornets ahead late in the game. She started the run with a basket inside, cutting Cabot’s lead to 61-59 with 3:35 left. She followed with a steal that led to a layup for Goshien and a tie game.

After a timeout, Cabot spread the floor to try to shorten the game but, again, Morris made a steal and, on a whirling move to the hoop, put up a left-handed shot off the glass that put the Lady Hornets ahead.

Cabot’s 6-3 Sara Moore misfired at the other end and Montgomery, the shortest player on the floor, came up with the carom. Now it was Bryant’s turn to eat some clock and they whittled it down to 1:34 before Montgomery was sent to the line. She coolly swished both ends of the one-and-one to bump the lead to 4.

Calley forced a Cabot turnover and Morris was fouled with 1:07 left. Her first shot, however, rattled out leading to Taylor’s drive at the other end that set up the dramatic finish.

The Lady Hornets had stunned the Lady Panthers with an 8-2 start to the game that including a pair of 3’s from Goshien and a jumper by Calley off a nice feed from Hughes.

The Lady Panthers found their stride, however, by going inside to Glover and Ashcraft. With 2:26 left in the half, they’d actually pulled ahead, 13-12. It was 16-14 at the 1:39 mark when Morris scored off a baseline drive, Cabot turned it over and Morris drove to the rack again to give her team an 18-16 halftime advantage.

When Morris and Calley picked up their second fouls of the half, the Lady Hornets got a lift from sophomore Abby Stearns who scored 5 points and applied some defense inside against the Cabot trees over the first two minutes of the second quarter.

So when Hughes hit two free throws at the 5:30 mark, the Lady Hornets enjoyed a 26-20 lead.

But Cabot answered Bryant’s surge, taking a 28-27 lead on a layup by Taylor Rosel with 3:35 left in the half. The game was tied at 30 then Morris put Bryant ahead with 3:04 to go. But Cabot finished the half with a 12-0 run that had the Lady Hornets behind 42-32 at the break, one of the largest deficits they’d faced this season.

With new energy, however, the Lady Hornets started the second half rolling. Simpson’s driving jumper was followed by a layup by Morris. Amber Ross scored for Cabot but Simpson hit again and Morris drained a 3 then a reverse layup that had Bryant back within 44-43 at the 4:34 mark.

Free throws by Moore and a basket by Lindsey Hoggatt pushed the lead to 48-43 and the Lady Panthers had a chance to add to that. But Morris made a steal that led to a trip to the line. Her free throw with 2:15 left in the third quarter cut Cabot’s lead to 48-44.

Simpson followed a Cabot miss with a bucket, Morris followed her own miss and got fouled leading to two free throws to tie it then Goshien drove for a layup that had the Lady Hornets back up 50-48.

Hoggatt hit a layup before the buzzer, however, and the game went to the final period deadlocked at 50.

Goshien snapped the tie with a 3 but Cabot answered with an 11-4 run to build the 61-57 lead that Bryant erased down the stretch.

LADY HORNETS 69, LADY PANTHERS 66

Score by quarters

BRYANT 18 14 18 19 — 69

Cabot 16 26 8 16 — 66

LADY HORNETS (14-2, 5-0) 69

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts

o-d-t

Hughes 0-3 3-4 0-2 2 3 3

Goshien 7-10 4-7 0-0 0 0 18

Calley 2-3 1-2 0-1 1 2 5

Morris 10-18 6-9 5-6 11 3 27

Simpson 3-5 0-0 0-2 2 5 6

Montgomery0-1 5-6 0-2 2 4 5

Johnson 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0

Stearns 1-1 3-4 0-1 1 1 5

Parish 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Team reb. 0-2 2

Totals 23-41 18-25 6-19 25 21 69

LADY PANTHERS (13-5, 3-2) 66

Player fg-fga ft-ft reb fls pts

o-d-t

Bailey 2-8 1-2 1-1 2 4 5

Ross 4-6 0-0 0-1 1 4 8

Moore 2-8 2-2 2-5 7 2 6

Glover 7-13 4-4 6-4 10 2 18

Ashcraft 4-5 0-1 0-3 3 5 8

Spry 0-1 0-0 1-0 1 0 0

Taylor 3-4 2-6 1-1 2 0 8

Hoggatt 2-3 0-0 0-0 0 2 4

Rosel 2-4 5-8 0-0 0 0 9

Abshure 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Team reb. 1-1 2

Totals 26-53 14-23 12-16 28 20 66

Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-13 (Goshien 4-7, Morris 1-3, Hughes 0-1, Simpson 0-1, Montgomery 0-1), Cabot 0-5 (Bailey 0-4, Taylor 0-1).Turnovers: Bryant 23, Cabot 18.

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