Bryant girls earn first league win
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
PEARCY — It’s a win that most of the teams in the AAAAA-South Conference probably won’t get.
At Lake Hamilton, against the Lady Wolves, the Bryant Lady Hornets captured the first AAAAA-South Conference game, one of just two league dates prior to the new year, 37-36, Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Lake Hamilton, always a solid team, returned four starters from last season and added a talented sophomore center Christie Shelton this year. And fresh on the heels of a tournament title at the Walmart Supercenter Shootout in Benton on the previous Saturday, the Lady Hornets figured to be a prime prospect for a letdown. But, they found a way to prevail.
And it was a squeaker only because the Lady Hornets struggled at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter (hitting 5 of 12), along with a pair of 3-pointers by Lake Hamilton’s Shara Ashtiani in the final :30.
Despite the charity stripe woes, Jennifer Slack, who led all scorers with 21, was able to get one to fall with :08.9 left which gave the Lady Hornets a 37-33 edge and made Ashtiani’s final trey (both banked in) merely cosmetic.
The Lady Hornets limited Lake Hamilton to under 30 percent shooting from the floor which was vital considering the Lady Wolves came up with a whopping 18 offensive rebounds which resulted in 47 shots from the floor (compared to 25 for Bryant). But the Lady Hornets only committed six fouls and the Lady Wolves only attempted nine free throws.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the win was that the Lady Hornets, leading 34-26, began to spread the floor and milk the clock with 4:14 still to play and only committed a couple of turnovers the rest of the way. The Lady Wolves went nearly two precious minutes without scoring. A basket by Shelton and a steal and layup by Katie Mattingly cut the margin to 35-30 and forced Bryant to call a timeout.
When play resumed, the Lady Wolves again went cold and suffered a pair of its own miscues with the ball. When Yousra Elhagemoussa hit a free throw with :58 left, it gave Bryant a 36-30 edge.
Ashtiani bombed in a 3 with :24 left but the Lady Wolves couldn’t foul before they got Slack with :08.9 showing, leading to the clinching free throw.
Ashtiani led Lake Hamilton with 16 points, half of which came in the first quarter when the Lady Wolves managed an 11-8 lead. But Rachel Blakley fed Elhagemoussa for a layup, Slack hit a driving jumper, then drove for a layup and the Lady Hornets were ahead to stay.
It was 16-13 at the end of the first quarter. Bree Mann, who scored 8 points and gathered 11 rebounds, ended the period with an offensive-rebound basket which started a 9-0 run. A 10-point advantage was the result late in the second quarter. Bryant led 23-17 at the break.
Lake Hamilton cut the lead to 4 early in the third quarter and had a chance to get closer but Jeanne Randall made a steal that led to a driving left-handed layup, a foul and the completion of a three-point play to turn the momentum back a bit.
The Lady Hornets held on for a 30-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Now 9-1 overall, the Lady Hornets host Jacksonville on Tuesday, Dec. 18, before breaking for the Christmas holiday.