For more photos of this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
CABOT — Free throws were at a premium Thursday night at the Cabot North Junior High gym. They were hard to come by.
But, when the Bryant Lady Hornets absolutely had to have them, at the end, Kaithlyn Weng and Jaiyah Jackson came through. Each connected on either end of one-and-one opportunities in the final minute to help the Lady Hornets extract a 30-23 victory in Central Arkansas Junior High Conference action.
Before those four free throws, the Lady Hornets were 4 of 12 at the line. Fortunately, Cabot North was struggling as well. The Lady Panthers finished just 7 of 20 for the game including a missed opportunity with a one-and-one with 1:52 left. Two free throws there, would’ve made it a one-point difference.
“We talked to Kaitlyn and Jaiyah about how important those free throws were after the game,” noted Lady Hornets coach Nathan Castaldi. “That last 20 seconds, we weren’t sweating it out. We weren’t up just 3. We were up 5 and then more than that.
“We’ve shot free throws decently well all year,” he noted. “Tonight, it was a challenge but then we made them when they counted.”
Cabot North actually pulled within 25-23 with 4:21 left to play but did not score the rest of the game despite a couple of chances for one-and-one situations.
Weng, Ashton Inman and Abbey Inman each scored 7 points to lead the Lady Hornets. Ashton Inman had seven rebounds as well, part of a crucial advantage on the boards for Bryant, which out-rebounded the Lady Panthers, 33-25, in the game.
Addison Funk added 4 points, Kristyn Weng 3 and Jackson 2.
For Cabot North, Davia Dowda scored 13 points including 8 in the third quarter when Cabot North rallied from a 20-11 deficit to within a point, 21-20. A free throw by Kenzie Carraies hit a free throw to start the final period and the game was tied at 21.
“We kind of challenged them after that third quarter,” Castaldi mentioned. “We had the lead at halftime then, the third quarter, we didn’t play very well. We challenged them to come back and respond. I thought they did a good job of that.”
Asked what he wanted to see from his team, the coach added, “Stop 14 (Dowda). I think, at one time, she had 13 out of their 16 or something like that. We wanted to contain her, make her work for her baskets. She was good but we were giving her easy looks there. She didn’t score in the fourth quarter, so I was really pleased with that.”
But the Lady Hornets never trailed after Ashton Inman drove for a layup to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Off a turnover, Kristyn Weng drained a 3 to make it 7-2.
Cabot North cut it 7-6 on a basket by Carraies and a free throw from Kennedy Tausen. In the final minute, Funk made a steal and a layup and Bryant led 9-6 going into the second period.
Though they had chances at the line, Cabot North could not regain the lead in the second quarter. After Dowda scored to start the stanza, Funk hit a 12-footer. Tausen hit a free throw to cut it to 11-9.
Castaldi called a timeout and, when play resumed, Ashton Inman hit a running jumper in the lane to increase the margin. It was 13-9 at the intermission.
Kaitlyn Weng started the third quarter with a steal. She knocked down both free throws and, after Dowda drove the baseline for a basket, Kaitlyn Weng gook a kick-out pass from Ashton and buried a 3, extending the margin to 18-11.
With 3:17 left in the third quarter, Ryleigh Laughlin earned a trip to the free-throw line but she came up empty. Somehow Ashton Inman got the rebound. Twice, her follow shots refused to fall but, off the second one, she pitched the ball to her twin Abbey Inman for a basket that produced the 9-point lead.
Dowda led a charge back as the Lady Panthers whittled that lead down to 1 by the end of the quarter.
After the Lady Panthers tied it to start the fourth, the Lady Hornets regained some breathing room when Abbey Inman made a pass and drove for a layup. After a Cabot North miss, Ashton Inman yanked down an offensive rebound and scored to make it 25-21.
Kendall Jennings hit a shot for the Lady Panthers that whittled the margin to 25-23 with 4:21 left in the game. And that proved to be the last of Cabot North’s scoring.
Missed opportunities, however, kept it close. Abbey Inman hit a free throw with 3:10 left. Laughlin rebounded and missed then Jackson made a steal but her drive to the other end came up empty. Ashton Inman made a steal but Funk’s shot refused to fall.
The clutch free throws in the final minute sewed up the victory.
The Lady Hornets will be off for a week before traveling to Lake Hamilton. Though the Lady Wolves are second in the league with a 9-1 record, when they played the Lady Hornets in Bryant on Nov. 27, they survived a scare with a 42-36 win.
LADY HORNETS 30, LADY PANTHERS 23
Score by quarters
Cabot North 6 3 11 3 — 23
BRYANT 9 4 8 9 — 30
LADY HORNETS 30
Ka.Weng 1-54-4 7, Kr.Weng 1-1 0-0 3, Ab.Inman 3-11 1-5 7, As.Inman 3-9 1-2 7, Laughlin 0-3 0-2 0, Jackson 0-3 2-2 2, Funk 2-7 0-0 4, Buck 0-1 0-1 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-40 (25%) 8-16 (50%) 30.
LADY PANTHERS 23
Dowda 5-8 3-5 13, Staten 0-0 0-0 0, Jennings 1-5 0-1 2, Aldana 0-2 0-0 0, Tausen 1-6 3-11 5, Carraies 1-3 1-2 3, Fewell 0-4 0-1 0. Totals 8-28 (29%) 7-20 (35%) 23.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-10 (Ka.Weng 1-3, Kr.Weng 1-1, As.Inman 0-3, Ab.Inman 0-2, Buck 0-1), Cabot North 0-3 (Dowda 0-1, Jennings 0-1, Tausen 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 16, Cabot North 17. Rebounds: Bryant 13-20 33 (As.Inman 4-3 7, Jackson 2-4 6, Funk 2-4 6, Ab.Inman 1-4 5, Ka.Weng 2-1 3, Laughlin 1-1 2, Kr.Weng 0-1 1, Buck 0-1 1, team 1-1 2), Cabot North 6-19 25 (Fewell 1-5 6, Tausen 0-4 4, Jennings 1-2 3, Carraies 2-1 3, Staten 0-2, Dowda 1-0 1, team 1-5 6). Team fouls: Bryant 15, Cabot North 17. Fouled out: Cabot North, Staten.