Lady Hornets collect No. 400 for Crowder
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
With time running out and victory all but assured as the Bryant Lady Hornets spread the floor and began to drain the clock, the fans at the Bryant High School gym began to chant: “Four-oh-oh, four-oh-oh.”
For the visitors, it had to be a big confusing. But it didn’t stay that way long. Once the game was over and the Lady Hornets had secured their 55-37 win over the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats, a ceremony to make the occasion began.
In her 16th season, Lady Hornets head coach Carla Crowder had her 400th win at Bryant. Fittingly, it was the 20th win of the season for Bryant, the 13th time in those 16 seasons, the Lady Hornets have reached that mark. It also all but clinched a bid to the Class AAAAA State Tournament, something no Bryant girls team has missed out on during Crowder’s tenure.
Oh, and they did it with defense, the Crowder way, forcing a whopping 31 turnovers.
In their final three games of the regular season, the current Lady Hornets will try to become Crowder’s nine conference championship team. And, at state, they’ll strive to be her seventh squad to reach the State finals and the fourth one to win a State title.
Friday’s win improved the Lady Hornets to 9-2 versus the AAAAA-Central Conference and with Conway’s win over Little Rock Parkview, left them alone in first place, a game ahead of their final three regular-season opponents, Parkview, Conway and Mount St. Mary’s.
North Little Rock did not go easy, keeping it close enough that the organizers of the post-game festivities and the subsequent reception a little nervous.
But the Lady Hornets were not to be denied. Sparked off the bench by the hot shooting of senior Haley Stobaugh and a big night for sophomore forward Amanda Grappe, they gradually pulled away.
North Little Rock’s lone lead was 2-0. With Grappe scoring 11 of her 22 points in the first quarter, Bryant gained the upper hand. Her three-point play gave the Lady Hornets their first lead at 5-2. They were never headed after that.
Struggles at the free throw line by the Lady Hornets enabled North Little Rock to stay within 14-8 at the end of the quarter and the Lady Cats continued to hang around. When Chloe Williams scored with just under three minutes left in the half, the Lady Hornets’ lead was just 18-15.
With 2:49 left, Yousra Elhagemoussa hit a free throw and Jeanne Randall scrambled after the rebound of her missed second shot. Randall was fouled and hit one of her free throws to make it 20-15.
Enter Stobaugh who burned the North Little Rock zone with a shot from the corner to begin a stretch in which she scored all of her team’s points in a 12-5 stretch at the end of the half and the beginning of the third quarter.
After Stobaugh’s first bucket, North Little Rock trimmed it back to 22-20 going into the final minute of the half. But Stobaugh fired in a 15-footer with :30 left. Randall made a steal and Stobaugh got a layup with :04 to go, giving Bryant a 26-20 halftime edge.
Ten seconds into the second half, Stobaugh flushed a 3. Moments later, she drilled a second one and Bryant’s advantage was 32-20. After a North Little Rock timeout, Jennifer Slack made a steal, drove to the other end and hit a short jumper to extend the margin further.
Bryant led 42-31 going into the fourth quarter.
North Little Rock, on the strength of a couple of baskets by Talesha Dokes who scored a team-high 12 points, whittled the lead to 43-35 with 5:19 left in the game. But Randall came through with a clutch 3-pointer to end any threat of a momentum swing. Bryant forced a turnover and Amanda Grappe hit a free throw to make it 47-35.
A basket by Jennifer Bush with 4:08 left, cut the lead to 10 but that was the last North Little Rock would score. Though they struggled a bit at the free throw line down the stretch, the Lady Hornets extended the lead.
The final margin was the largest of the game.