Croy’s clutch trey lifts Lady Hornets
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
PEARCY — The Bryant Lady Hornets’ season was at a crossroads. Reeling a bit after losing two key starters to injury, they had suffered back-to-back AAAAA-South Conference losses. Though still just a game out of first place in the league, they were in danger of hitting the slippery slope. Another loss would not only jeopardize their hopes for a share of the league title but put their plans for a return to the Class AAAAA State Tournament in doubt particularly considering that the team they were visiting, Lake Hamilton, was the primary threat to catch them.
So, when senior guard Candice Croy stepped up on the right wing and drilled a 3-pointer to snap a 50-50 tie with :43 left to play Friday at Lake Hamilton, it may have been a season-saving shot, sparking the Lady Hornets to a crucial 56-50 road victory.
It helped too that the Lady Hornets’ defense collapsed on Lake Hamilton’s Katie McLean as she tried to drive the baseline at the other end. And that Jennifer Slack rebounded McLean’s miss.
And it was obviously big that Croy hit two free throws with :17 left to extend the Bryant lead to 55-50.
It was fitting, too, that senior Joanie Robideaux added the finishing touches to the win with a final free throw. She had been instrumental in the Lady Hornets’ gaining and maintaining the lead in the game until a fourth-quarter push by the Lady Wolves that erased a 12-point Bryant lead.
Lake Hamilton came storming back behind center Allison Boettger who played the entire second half with four fouls and never fouled out. She wound up with a game-high 22 points including 11 in the fourth quarter.
Robideaux and sophomore guard Rachel Blakley staked the Lady Hornets to a 7-2 lead early in the game. Boettger picked up her third foul with just over two minutes left in the first quarter. After hitting a short jumper to close Bryant’s margin to 7-4 she came out of the game and the Lady Hornets were able to go inside to build a 15-6 margin.
A jumper from the corner by Jamie Stephens started the run that included an offensive-rebound basket by Slack, a post move for a hoop by sophomore center Amber Stephenson and a pair of free throws early in the second quarter by back-up center Starr Crow.
Boettger returned to the lineup and helped keep Lake Hamilton in the game. The Lady Hornets still built a 20-9 lead at one point. Free throw shooting was key as they were put in the bonus before the second quarter began. Bryant, playing on the road, went 24 for 32 from the line in the game.
Boettger hit two free throws with :16 left to cut the margin to 22-18 but in the final :10, she was whistled for her fourth foul, sending Crow back to the line. Crow converted both free throws but McLean, who scored 12 points in the game, hit a running jumper at the buzzer to cut Bryant’s lead to 24-20.
Slack stepped up in the second half and scored 11 of her 13 points. Croy added all 9 of her points after halftime.
The Lady Hornets made a bid to break the game open when they built their 12-point lead in the third quarter. Lake Hamilton’s Katie Mattingly drove for a layup with 5:10 left in the period to make it a 32-27 game but layups by Slack and Stephenson and driving jumper by Robideaux started an 11-4 run. Slack’s driving layup with :42 left made it 43-31.
But that was Bryant’s last field goal for awhile. Lake Hamilton opened the final period with a 9-0 run and had a chance to cut the margin to 1 or tie it with a 3-pointer when Croy was called for an offensive foul. A turnover sabotaged that possession. At the other end, Croy misfired in traffic and Stephenson battled to get a dual possession on the rebound. As it turned out, it was Bryant’s turn to control and, moments later, Slack was fouled on a shot attempt. She hit one free throw to make it 44-40.
Boettger cut it to 2 but Croy knocked down both ends of a one-and-one after being fouled by the pressing Lady Wolves defenders.
The Lady Hornets held onto the lead with a pair of free throws by Robideaux and a clutch basket by Slack as the game came down the homestretch. Boettger’s stickback with 2:08 left trimmed the margin to 50-49. The Lady Hornets got two chances to increase the margin after that thanks to a Lake Hamilton turnover but couldn’t.
With 1:21 left, the Lady Wolves’ Ashley Hapton was fouled. She made her first shot to tie the game then Bryant head coach Carla Crowder took a timeout. When Hapton returned to the line, she missed the second shot. The Lady Hornets rebounded and held the ball until Croy buried the crucial 3-pointer in the final minute.