Bryant girls secure tough road victory
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
HOT SPRINGS — The Bryant Lady Hornets’ 46-43 win over the Hot Springs Lady Trojans on Tuesday, Dec. 3, is probably their most important of the season so far and could have a big impact on their future success.
Well, for one thing, they were coming off their first loss of the season, a 50-47 disappointment to Lake Hamilton in the finals of the Mills tournament. Then there’s the fact that they were playing a tough team on their floor and it seemed the breaks (and calls) kept going against them.
“It was big to win a close game on the road against what I feel like is a pretty good team,” acknowledged Bryant coach Blake Condley. “It was good for us to win that kind of close game when maybe we didn’t play as well as we could throughout the course of the game but some girls stepped up and made plays when we needed them.
“We can’t win every game that way,” Condley asserted, “but it’s nice for that to happen, confidence-wise. That will help us later in the season when we get in a close game.”
The Lady Hornets showed some mental toughness that hadn’t always manifested itself in recent years.
“You know, it’s hard to put your finger on how to develop that, how to get that to happen,” Condley commented. “You just try to work on things in practice, put them in situations, try to talk them through things, tell them how to get through something but, until they’re in that situation and they become tested and are successful, it’s hard to make strides in that. But I think success breeds more toughness.”
And the Lady Hornets have shown that any number of them could be playing at the end of a game, making the necessary plays, displaying that mental toughness.
This time, one of the biggest plays was made by junior point guard Taylor Hughes. With the game tied at 43, Hughes drove into the lane a put up a running jumper as she was being knocked to the floor. The shot found the mark and though her free throw rimmed out, it put the Lady Hornets ahead to stay.
And, after Hot Springs’ Ashley McDonald missed on a 3-point try, Anna Simpson was fouled with :39.4 to go. She converted the first shot to make it a three-point lead.
After a timeout, it appeared that Hot Springs was going to hold for the last shot but, with about 10 seconds left, Jessica Harding launched a 3. In a scramble, Bryant chased down the rebound and Condley called timeout to make sure his team retained possession.
When play resumed, however, Hot Springs put on a press and forced a five-second violation — it was a quick five seconds — and the Lady Trojans had another chance. McDonald lined up another 3-point try only to have Alana Morris block it. McDonald got the ball back and hurried another try but it rimmed out. Olivia Green rebounded and missed a two-point try that would’ve left her team short anyway as time ran out.
Condley noted Hughes’ big shot and added, “I thought Anna hit some big shots and I thought Jasmine (Carter) had a couple of big plays down the stretch. I thought she had a big assist to Hannah Goshien out on the floor and I thought one of the rebounds she got late was a really good one for us. Different girls are doing some good things for us at different times.”
Condley played 10 players and it took awhile to find the combination that was going to click though Goshien came up big from the start, finishing with 20 points including 15 in the second half. She hit four 3’s.
“I felt kind of like I had a revolving door going with the subs,” Condley mentioned, “but it was for mental mistakes. I felt like we were having some mental breakdowns on some things we’d talked about that we did not want to do. I just felt like it was from lack of concentration. We just weren’t focused in on what we needed to do. Once we had a group that got a little spark and started doing the things that we needed them to we just tried to ride that group until the end of the game.”
Along with Carter, Goshien, Hughes and Simpson that group included senior Amber Westbrook who finished with 6 points, four rebounds and typically solid defense. Simpson finished with 10 points, Carter had 7 and a team-high eight boards.
The Lady Hornets trailed for most of the first half. It was 8-4 before Carter hit a 3 to make it a 1-point Hot Springs advantage going into the second period. Two free throws by Westbrook after Carter had made a steal and dished to her under the basket, put Bryant up 9-8 but back-to-back baskets by Destiny Ellis started a 9-2 Hot Springs run. After a basket by Westbrook cut the lead to 17-13 going into the final two minutes, Green, who finished with 15 points and eight boards for the Lady Trojans, scored twice to give her team its largest lead of 8.
Goshien drove for a layup and Westbrook hit two more free throws to cut the margin in half, but a free throw by Green made it 22-17 at the half.
The lead was 7 midway through the third quarter when Goshien got hot. She hit a 3 and, after a steal by Hughes, got a layup to make it 26-24. After a free throw by Ellis and a jumper in the lane by Green, Goshien canned back-to-back triples to put the Lady Hornets on top 30-29.
After a 3 by Erica Mitchell for Hot Springs, Simpson attacked the hoop and came through with a three-point play and, following a turnover, Carter drilled a trey to put the Lady Hornets up 36-32 going into the final eight minutes.
But Hot Springs rallied to take a 39-38 lead. Carter tied it with a free throw with 5:02 left and it was nip and tuck the rest of the way. McDonald hit two from the line to give her team a 41-39 edge but Simpson came right back with a bucket and, after Ellis missed, Simpson fed Goshien for a layup to beat the Hot Springs press and give Bryant a lead with 2:50 to go.
Hughes, covering McDonald the Hot Springs point guard, forced a five-second call on defense but the Lady Hornets couldn’t get a shot to fall inside nor a whistle as both Westbrook and Goshien were roughed up trying to get their shots away. The teams traded turnovers before McDonald went to the line with 1:20 to go, tying the game 43-43.