RUSSELLVILLE — The Bryant White Lady Hornets seventh grade team of Bryant Middle School made their 2017-18 debut on Monday night against a team playing its fourth contest in the Russellville Lady Gales. In the first half, the difference was significant but the Lady Hornets got tougher as the game went along. They were, however, unable to come back far enough to pull out a win as Russellville held on for a 30-16 victory.
“There’s a lot of learning that goes on from the first game throughout the season,” noted Lady Hornets coach Ben Perry. “It was evident that the girls were extremely nervous and anxious prior to the game. I did the best I could to calm them before the game but the first half showed how inexperienced they were.”
Russellville built a 9-0 lead by the intermission.
“We had shots but couldn’t get the ball in the basket or look up when dribbling the ball,” Perry said. “The first half looked very chaotic and the girls were frantic. At halftime, I told them that the first half of basketball is done and it will be the worst half they have all year. I told them to calm down and run the offense.
“I told them that I was proud of their aggressiveness in the game so far because it was probably the most jump balls I’ve ever seen and there was no doubt the girls were hustling,” he added. “We just had to be careful with the ball and not allow them to take the ball away as we are dribbling and make an uncontested layup.”
The Lady Hornets out-scored the Lady Gales 10-8 in the third quarter to close the gap to 17-10 going into the fourth. In the fourth quarter, Russellville jumped into a press and surged to the victory.
“The first game for this group showed me many things,” Perry said. “It showed me the areas that we do well and the areas that we must work on. They showed improvement from first half to second half. They are a new group with many players who have never played before. I told them I was proud of their hustle and the fact they never gave up.
“This game allowed me to see everyone play and see what I really have since it is hard to tell before you actually begin playing other teams,” he added. “We will move kids around and work on our fundamentals to get better. I told them with hard work and dedication the wins will come.
“Teaching kids to want to be aggressive is harder than teaching kids the fundamentals,” the coach stated. “They are already aggressive so now we must harness and focus their energy to be in the right spot and to run the offense effectively.”
Bailey Zimmerman led the Lady Hornets with 5 points. Haya Winfield added 4 with Kylee Fleharty, Emily Corvin and Makayla Davidson each added 2 with Ava Singleton hitting a free throw.
Fouling added to the frustrations for Bryant White. Russellville was 6 of 26 at the line, while the Lady Hornets converted 3 of 17.
“Not a good free-throw shooting game but we have god to reduce the free throws from the other team,” Perry said.
“All in all, I was frustrated in the outcome but proud of what I saw and the potential that I was able to see,” he concluded. “I look forward to seeing how far they will improve as the season goes on.”
On Thursday, the Lady Hornets will travel to Bethel to play Bryant Blue.