Lady Hornets out-point Pointerettes
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
CONWAY — After suffering their worst loss of the season, the Bryant Lady Hornets bounced back with two of their most impressive victories, capped by a 66-51 win over a solid Van Buren Pointerettes team on Tuesday, Dec. 30, to wind up the Lady Cat Classic.
The results left the Lady Hornets 8-6 overall and winners of four of their last five games including their AAAAA-Central Conference opener at North Little Rock. They were set to return to conference play with the bulk of their league schedule beginning Tuesday, Jan. 6, at Little Rock Central.
The win over Van Buren, from the perennially strong AAAAA-West Conference came on the heels of a 61-38 thumping of Forrest City and the 71-39 loss to Norman, Okla., the eventual Classic champion.
“They responded the way you’d want them to,” head coach Rhonda Hall said of her players. “They didn’t get down. They came back and said, ‘Hey, we’re a good basketball team.’ They came back and got better. I thought we played well yesterday (against Forrest City) and we played better today. That’s what you want to see.
“I think these two games were good for us going into the conference,” she added. “It’s going to be a tough conference this year. Central and McClellan played in the finals of the Jacksonville Tournament, Parkview’s already shown they can win. But I think we’ll be ready. We’ve played a lot of good teams.”
Other than the Norman game, Bryant’s losses have been by 8 at Cabot, 5 to Hot Springs, 6 to Sylvan Hills, 4 to Rogers and 1 to Sheridan.
Against Van Buren, junior point guard Ashley Grappe had, perhaps, her best game of the season so far, scoring a game-high 22 points to go with nine assists, three rebounds and five steals.
“We played well from start to finish and Van Buren’s a good team, very disciplined,” Hall noted. “I think we did a good job of staying down on defense, our communication was better, our tempo was better.
“Ashley stepped up and took care of the basketball for us, pushed the ball up the floor for us and did what she does well — penetrate, dish; penetrate, shoot that jump shot,” Hall added. “When she’s on like that, you’re not going to find anybody that can do that any better than her.”
Amanda Grappe added 19 points and Liz Farish came off the bench to score 8, but it was Ashley Grappe’s offensive eruption that was something extra. Often, she has just concentrated on ballhandling, defense and running the offense.
“I think it has a lot to do with the type of defensive person that picks her up,” Hall said. “And I think you have days where you just get into a zone and today she was just in the zone. Everything she did went right and she just built on that. She got better every quarter and by the fourth quarter, they couldn’t stop her. She was as good as I’ve seen. Her confidence built up and she just took over for us. That makes a big difference for us and Amanda and Liz were making the shots when she’d penetrate. They were making those dishes count down on the block.”
For Van Buren, Haley Senesomxay scored 17 points and Sara Mardanlou had 13.
“Amanda did a great job on defense on (Mardanlou),” Hall noted. “She had scored (nine) points in the first half and we switched Amanda on her and she pretty much got shut down. Amanda’s rebounding was super too. And I looked down there the last four or five plays of the game and all five of our people had someone blocked out. There wasn’t anybody getting in to rebound (for Van Buren). You could see the bodies leaning over the top of our’s because we did such a good job of blocking out.”
The game was tight throughout the first half. Van Buren led 9-5 in the first quarter but baskets by Farish and Amanda Grappe in the late going tied it for the start of the second period.
Ashley Grappe knocked down a 3 then, after a Van Buren, miss, buried a jumper from just inside the 3-point arc to give Bryant the lead.
Van Buren cut the lead to 2 late in the half and had two chances to tie or take the lead but the second opportunity was foiled by Amanda Grappe’s steal which led to a layup by Ashley Grappe.
After Mardanlou scored inside, Allison Grappe got in on the scoring with a 3-pointer to make it 25-20. A three-point play by Van Buren’s Tasha Buchanan in the final five seconds made it a 2-point game at the half.
And two free throws by Senesomxay to start the second half tied the game. Again Van Buren had two chances to take the lead but failed. Amanda and Ashley Grappe combined on a steal that led to another bucket by Ashley which started a 14-5 run. A bucket by Farish and two free throws by Amie Hubbard added to the run which was capped off when Ashley Grappe made a steal and fed Hubbard for a layup to make it 39-30.
The lead was 45-35 going into the fourth quarter. Two free throws by Amanda Grappe made it a 12-point lead but, after Senesomxay and Bryant’s Megan Kennedy traded baskets, the Pointerettes made a push to trim the lead to 7.
It was 53-46 with 3:58 to go then Ashley Grappe hit a driving jumper in the lane, fed Amanda for a layup then Hubbard for a 3. When Ashley Grappe hit two free throws with 1:52 left to complete the 9-0 run, Bryant’s lead was 62-46 and the outcome was no longer in any doubt.
Hubbard fed Bridgette McPeak for a layup that gave Bryant it’s largest lead of 66-49 before both coaches turned to their reserves.