Lady Hornets win league opener
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
LITTLE ROCK — After a lost weekend in Paragould at the McDonald’s Shootout, it was understandable that the Bryant Lady Hornets opened their 1999-2000 AAAAA-South Conference schedule a little tentatively Tuesday at McClellan High School.
With one point guard out for the season because of a knee injury and another gamely playing with a protective mask due to a broken nose, the Lady Hornets suffered four straight losses including all three at the Shootout. The wear on their confidence was evident Tuesday.
But, when it got right down to it, the Lady Hornets just refused to lose again. They took over the final five minutes of the game, shutting out the Lady Lions for almost six minutes while turning a 30-29 deficit into a 38-30 lead on the way to a 40-34 victory.
Senior Bekka Middleton scored 19 points and gathered 18 rebounds to go with a number of assists to lead the Lady Hornets. Candice Croy added 6 points off the bench and Joanie Robideaux, battling with the injury and the mask, pitched in with 5.
Actually, McClellan, now 4-4 overall and 0-1 in conference play, never led by more than 2. But, with 6:25 left to play, Charlane Relford hit a 3-pointer that put the Lady Lions ahead 30-29.
It appeared to give McClellan a big momentum boost, especially when Relford followed it up with a steal. But she missed her contested layup and the two teams struggled without changing the score for over two minutes.
One timeout didn’t get the Lady Hornets back on track, but a second, with 4:25 left, proved more productive. Sophomore Meagan Clancy ended the long drought with a 15-foot jumper that returned the lead to the Lady Hornets with 4:09 to go.
An unforced turnover in the backcourt by McClellan returned possession to the Lady Hornets and Croy cashed in with a baseline jumper to make it 33-30.
McClellan’s Ebony Flowers, who scored a team-high 12 points, missed a 3-point try and the Lady Hornets rebounded. Robideaux missed from 3-point range but Kim Jacuzzi grabbed the offensive rebound and fed Middleton for a basket.
Though she missed making it a three-point play, moments later, she drove the baseline and was fouled again. She connected once to make it 37-30 with 2:43 to play.
McClellan missed two chances to cut into the margin before they fouled Croy. She missed the front end of the one-and-one but Middleton scrambled after the loose rebound and the Lady Hornets spread the floor.
Robideaux was eventually fouled with :47 left. She converted once to complete the 9-0 run.
With :38 to go, Relford ended McClellan’s dryspell with a driving layup. But Robideaux added two more free throws with :13 left to seal the victory.
The Lady Hornets had trailed 8-6 at the end of the first quarter. A 2-for-6 effort at the free-throw line contributed to that, however.
The game was tied four times in the second quarter, the last at 14 when Middleton dropped in a jumper from the lane. Robideaux followed that with a steal that resulted in a layup for Heather Atkins off a nice assist from Clancy with :46 left in the half. Up 16-14, the Lady Hornets prevented McClellan from tying it on two possessions. The half ended after Middleton blocked a last-second attempt by Tiffany Gunn.
Though Flowers hit a layup to tie it early in the third quarter, the Lady Hornets then slowly edged ahead. When Robideaux drove the baseline for a basket with 2:53 left in the quarter, the Bryant lead reached its apex at 25-18.
By the end of the period, however, McClellan whittled the lead to 25-22 and when Flowers hit a 3 to start the final eight minutes, the game was tied once again.
It was tied at 27 when Croy hit a jumper from the wing with 6:35 left but Relford trumped that with her 3 that gave McClellan its final lead.
Now 5-4 overall and 1-0 in conference play, the Lady Hornets host Arkadelphia in their final pre-Christmas contest on Friday.