Lady Hornets roll into third after drilling NLR
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
There seemed to be times early in the 2003-04 season, that the Bryant Lady Hornets were intent on blowing out an opponent before they had them beaten. They’d get in a big hurry and wind up struggling against a team they knew all too well, they out-classed.
Since then, they’ve settled in and started taking their time a bit more and the results have them in a position to not only clinch a spot in the Class AAAAA State Tournament, but move up in the AAAAA-Central Conference standings.
On Friday, Feb. 13, playing a North Little Rock team they had thumped 74-39 on the road in December, the Lady Hornets reverted a little bit. Thanks to some hot shooting, the Lady Wildcats hung around for most of the first half but Bryant found its groove again late in the half and at the start of the third quarter and rolled to a 58-25 win.
It was the Lady Hornets’ fourth successive victory and fifth in the last six games. Coupled with Little Rock McClellan’s upset win over Mount St. Mary’s, it thrust Bryant into third place in the conference and officially clinched a State bid going into the final three games of the regular season. And those three games are against the three other teams headed to State (at North Little Rock) including the two teams ahead of them in the standings, Little Rock Parkview (ranked No. 1 in the state) at Bryant on Feb. 17, and at Conway on Feb. 20. Mount St. Mary’s visits Bryant on Feb. 24 to close out the regular season.
Against North Little Rock, the Lady Hornets actually fell behind early. But when Amanda Grappe made a steal that led to her jumper from the corner that put Bryant ahead 5-4, the Lady Cats, who wound up hitting just 18 percent from the field, never led again.
Sophia Piggee who scored all 7 of her points in the first quarter for North Little Rock, kept her team close. Bryant’s lead was 14-11 going into the final seconds of the first quarter when Amanda Grappe canned a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to double Bryant’s lead.
But North Little Rock scored the first two baskets of the second period to cut the lead to 2. Ashley Grappe countered with a 3 but the Lady Hornets didn’t begin to shake the Lady Cats until the last two minutes of the half.
Leading 20-16, the Lady Hornets dodged a bullet as North Little Rock missed three chances to get closer before Amanda Grappe scored inside on an inbounds play at the other end. After a free throw by Ashley Benton for North Little Rock, Amie Hubbard hit a short jumper from the baseline off a nice feed from Ashley Grappe. Then Hubbard converted a pair of free throws in the final minute to make it 26-17 at the break.
Bryant head coach Rhonda Hall deployed her team in a half-court trap to start the third quarter and it took its toll on North Little Rock.
A steal by Amanda Grappe led to a short jumper by Ashley. Allison Grappe converted a pair of free throws and, after a North Little Rock basket by Rachel Parsley, Ashley Grappe canned a jumper from the corner and Hubbard buried a 3 to make it 35-19.
It was 40-23 going into the fourth quarter and, in the end, everyone played for Bryant. The lead reached 30 with 3:14 left in the game on a 3-pointer by Megan Kennedy. Kayla Pitts finished the scoring a 3 with 1:33 to go.
Amanda Grappe finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Ashley Grappe added 16 points including four of Bryant’s nine 3-pointers. Hubbard added 9 points and Allison Grappe 8.