With 4:01 left to play in their game against the Conway White Lady Cats on Thursday night, the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team trailed just 35-30. After the Lady Cats’ star eighth-grader Chloe Clardy scored off a give-and-go, the rest of the game came down to free throws.
Though a pair by Bryant’s Daria Greer with 1:16 to go had the Conway White lead back to 5, 39-34, the Lady Hornets just could not get any closer as the Lady Cats held on for a 42-34 win at the Bryant Middle School gym.
Clardy, who led the freshman team in scoring as a seventh-grader last year, finished with 11 points, matching Mya Boxley for team-high honors. She also had a game-high nine rebounds.
Greer led Bryant with 9 points, all from the free-throw line where she was 9 of 15 including three misses when she was fouled on a three-point shot with :42.5 remaining.
Jordan Hancock and Parris Atkins finished with 8 each for the Lady Hornets.
Rebounding was a key to the result. Conway White finished with 28 boards including 14 on the offensive end. The Lady Hornets had 16 caroms with only three at the offensive end.
Conway White is expected to be among the best teams in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference, which starts play after Christmas, and the Lady Hornets were right there with them until the end.
“They’re up there,” allowed Lady Hornets coach Nathan Castaldi. “They have a lot of skill at every spot on the floor, which makes them hard to guard.”
Yet, the Lady Cats just couldn’t shake the Lady Hornets, who nonetheless, never held the lead after it was 2-0.
“There were a few times, here or there, when the ball went off our fingertip right to them and they scored a layup,” Castaldi noted. “A bounce here, a bounce there and that’s the difference. I was telling the girls that’s how it’s going to be this year. The top of our conference is really good. We can compete with them but they’re all going to be close games, so we’ve got to finish and execute to be successful.
“I thought we came out a little slow the first quarter,” he said. “After that, we kind of adjusted to their speed. They’re very different than what North Little Rock was last week. They played a lot faster, up and down. It took us a little bit of time to kind of figure that out. After that, we competed a little better.”
Emma Chappell scored the first basket of the game for the Lady Hornets. Conway White tied it on free throws from Chandler Venzant then Kalayna King made it 4-2. Hancock scored to knot it again, but the Lady Cats closed out the first quarter on a 7-2 run that included a 3 from Boxley.
The surge continued into the second quarter with baskets by Clardy andKing before Green hit a pair of free throws.
Conway White led 19-8 but Bryant’s Caitlin LaCerra knocked down a 3-pointer and Hancock drove for a layup to trim the margin to 6. Clardy added a free throw but ShaMya Jordan drove for a layup and it was a 5-point game.
A buzzer-beating bucket by Rebecca Boone had the Lady Cats ahead 22-15 at the half.
With the first 6 points of the third quarter, Conway White’s largest lead of the game developed, 28-15.
After a timeout by Castaldi, the Lady Hornets began to whittle. Greer was fouled on a 3-pointer for the second time of three, but she made just one free throw. Moments later, Atkins grabbed a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast for a basket. She then made a steal and drove for a layup to make it 28-20.
Conway White maintained, however, and held a 33-26 lead going into the fourth quarter. King scored inside to start the fourth quarter, but Atkins scored on a driving jumper then Hancock drove for a bucket that had Bryant within 35-30.
The Lady Cats turned the ball over, so the Lady Hornets had a chance to get closer but couldn’t cash in.
The loss dropped Bryant to 2-4 on the young season. The Lady Hornets will play at Benton on Monday.
LADY CATS 42, LADY HORNETS 34
Score by quarters
Conway White11 11 11 9 — 42
BRYANT 6 9 11 8 — 34
LADY CATS 42
Venzant 0-2 0-2 0, Boxley 4-8 1-2 11, Boone 3-4 2-2 8, Clardy 3-10 5-8 11, King 3-7 0-4 6, Jolivette 1-3 2-2 4, Williams 1-5 0-0 2. Totals15-39 (38%) 10-20 (50%) 42.
LADY HORNETS 34
Hancock 4-8 0-0 8, Greer 0-5 9-15 9, Atkins 4-9 0-0 8, Chappell 1-2 0-0 2, LaCerra 1-3 0-0 3, Dillon 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan 2-2 0-0 4, Palmer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals12-30 (40%) 9-15 (60%) 34.
Three-point field goals:Bryant 1-11 (LaCerra 1-3, Greer 0-3, Hancock 0-2, Atkins 0-2, Palmer 0-1), Conway White 2-15 (Boxley 2-6, Clardy 0-4, Venzant 0-1, Boone 0-1, King 0-1, Jolivette 0-1, Williams 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 19, Conway White 17. Rebounds:Bryant 3-13 16 (Atkins 0-4 4, Greer 1-1 2, LaCerra 0-2 2, Jordan 1-1 2, Palmer 0-2 2, Hancock 0-1 1, Chappell 1-0 1, team 0-2 2), Conway White 14-14 28 (Clardy 3-6 9, Boone 4-4 8, King 2-1 3, Venzant 2-0 2, Jolivette 0-2 2, Williams 1-0 1, team 2-1 3). Team fouls:Bryant 15, Conway White 10. Fouled out:Conway White, Boone.