By Rob Patrick
BENTON — Despite a fast start, the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team just couldn’t shake the Benton Junior Lady Panthers for much of their game at the Benton Arena on Monday, Jan. 12.
In fact, Bryant’s 9-2 lead had turned into a 19-18 deficit in the final seconds of the third quarter.
But Casey Lee grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with :21 left in the period and, at the other end, ended a Benton threat by taking a charge. Bryant led 20-19 going into the fourth quarter and, with Lee adding a pair of free throws and another basket along the way, turned that stickback bucket to end the third into a game-turning 11-1 run.
The Lady Hornets went on to extract a 36-26 win, improving to 12-4 overall and 5-2 in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Conference, on the heels of co-leaders North Little Rock and Cabot South.
Lee finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Hornets, matching Benton’s Brooke Million for scoring honors. Jessie Taylor added 9 points. Kayla Sory and London Abernathy had 5 each.[more]
Sory’s came during Bryant’s tell-tale surge. Haley Bryant had hit a free throw with 4:16 left in the game to keep her team within 22-20. At the 4:06 mark, Abernathy was sent to the line with a bonus opportunity. Though she missed the front end, the Lady Hornets went to work on the boards. First, Lee rebounded and missed the follow then Taylor rebounded and couldn’t get a shot to go down. But Taylor followed her own miss with a second board and pitched the ball outsite to Sory who drained a momentum-building 3.
After Benton called a timeout while struggling to get the ball up the floor against the Bryant press, the Lady Hornets forced a turnover nonetheless and Lee canned a 15-foot jumper to make it 27-20.
Haley Bryant tried to answer from 3-point range but her shot rimmed out. Sory grabbed the carom and was fouled. When she sank both free throws, the Lady Hornets had their largest lead to that point in the game, 29-20.
Million’s free throws got Benton back on track but even though the Lady Hornets struggled at the free throw line (7 of 14 in the fourth quarter), the Lady Panthers were unable to get closer than 32-26 down the stretch. Raegan Barker connected on a pair from the line with :25.3 left to bump the lead to 8.
And with :08.5 left, Bryant coach Eric Andrews called a timeout to set up a play to get one more hoop. Abernathy hit it with :03.2 on the clock, giving the Lady Hornets the 10-point margin of victory, the maximum that will be accounted for if any tiebreaking procedures are needed when seeding is set for the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference post-season tournament.
Abernathy had fueled Bryant’s fast start by hitting a 3 for the first basket of the game. Taylor hit a jumper to make it 5-0 and, after Million got Benton on the board, Lee hit the offensive glass for a hoop. The Lady Hornets prevented Benton from inbounding the ball and, on the subsequent possession, Lee canned a 15-footer for the 9-2 lead.
But Benton, with Million hitting four free throws and Haley Bryant driving for a layup answered with a 6-0 run to finish the quarter and the game was tight the rest of the half. At the break, the Lady Hornets held a 15-13 edge.
Bailey Gately tied it at 15 to start the third quarter. A basket by Taylor and a free throw from Barker had Bryant up 18-15 before a three-point play by Million and a free throw by Gately gave the Lady Panthers a 19-18 lead going into the final seconds of the period.
JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 36, JUNIOR LADY PANTHERS 26
Score by quarters
BRYANT 9 6 5 16 — 36
Benton 8 5 6 7 — 26
JUNIOR LADY HORNETS
Barker 0-1 3-6 3, Abernathy 2-7 0-1 5, Sory 1-1 2-2 5, Taylor 4-9 1-3 9, Lee 6-14 2-4 14, C.Hogancamp 0-2 0-0 0, Blundell 0-0 0-0 0, C.Wilson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 13-35 8-16 36
JUNIOR LADY PANTHERS
Million 3-8 8-9 14, Meadors 0-0 0-0 0, Carver 2-5 0-0 5, Gately 1-9 2-4 4, A.Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Bryant 1-4 1-5 3, Pembertson 0-0 0-0 0, Fleming 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 7-27 11-18 26.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-2 (Abernathy 1-1, Sory 1-1), Benton 1-8 (Carver 1-1, Million 0-3, Gately 0-2, Bryant 0-2). Rebounds: Bryant 26 (Lee 11, Taylor 6), Benton 22 (Carver 6). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Benton 19. Total fouls: Bryant 17, Benton 17. Fouled out: Benton, Bryant.