Kennedy sparks win over Benton
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
Tiffany Kennedy’s quickness and ability to anticipate passes has made her a defensive standout for the Bryant Lady Hornets this season. She’s usually good for at least three or four steals. She’s also shown a willingness to go inside and mix it up for a rebound and, with a high-arching jump shot and the occasional baseline drive, she often contributes 6 or 8 points on offense.
But Thursday night, in the Lady Hornets’ AAAAA-South Conference battle with the rival Benton Lady Panthers, Kennedy started the game ablaze at the offensive end, sparking her team to an early lead on the way to a season-high 15 points in the Lady Hornets’ 57-48 victory.
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 6-4 in conference play, 15-9 overall. Benton fell to 3-7 and 9-14, all but eliminated from contention for a State Tournament bid.
Kennedy scored 9 of her points in a first-quarter blitz that appeared to put the Lady Hornets in control. With the game tied at 2, she popped an 18-foot jumper that hardly disturbed the net. After a free throw by Benton’s Rachel Poe, Kennedy drained a 3-pointer to make it 7-3. Moments later, another jumper by Kennedy increased the margin and forced a Benton timeout.
When play resumed, Candice Croy buried a long jumper to make it 11-3.
A pair of free throws and a basket by Frannie Whipple closed the gap but Meagan Clancy hit a 3 for Bryant. Kennedy added a pair of free throws and Bree Mann scored inside to make it 18-7.
That large lead came despite the fact that Bryant’s top scorer for the season, senior post Bekka Middleton, had just one basket.
But the Lady Hornets’ outside shooting fell off in the second quarter. Benton, sparked by center LaSharon Reed, put together a 15-4 rally that forged a tie with 1:12 left in the half.
Clancy had a chance to snap the tie with :54 left but missed a pair of free throws. Benton’s chance to take the lead was foiled, though, when Joanie Robideaux came up with a steal and was fouled on her way to the basket. Robideaux converted a pair of free throws with :35 left to give the Lady Hornets the lead once again.
But, moments later, Benton’s Alisha Standridge hit her team’s only 3-pointer of the game and the Lady Panthers had their first lead since 2-0 as the two teams retired for the half.
Middleton, held to just 4 points in the first half, stepped up in the second half and wound up the game’s leader with 19.
Kennedy opened the second half scoring with a jumper in the lane, returning the advantage to Bryant. It began a 12-0 run that put the Lady Hornets in control. They never trailed again.
Middleton contributed 7 points to that second-half opening blitz including a three-point play to highlight it.
Benton didn’t manage a point in the third quarter until it was over five minutes old. Finally, Diana Klesel hit a 15-foot jumper and Poe scored inside but Middleton took a nice feed from the high post by Heather Atkins and scored to get Bryant back on track.
With the Benton defense sloughing back on Middleton, Atkins then produced back-to-back baskets from the high post and the Lady Hornets led 42-33 going into the final period.
Benton cut the lead to 6 midway through the quarter but Atkins fed Middleton for another layup and, after a Benton miss, Robideaux got it to Middleton again. Benton was forced to foul and it paid off as Middleton missed both free throws. But, moments later, Kennedy stepped up again and buried a 3 to bump the lead back to 11, matching the Lady Hornets’ largest margin of the game.
The Lady Panthers managed to get it back to 6 on a basket by Jodie Scott with :35 left in the game but Robideaux and Atkins converted free throws after that and Benton was unable to score again.