Freshman Lady Hornets hand Malvern first loss to open tourney

PEARCY — The Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team got out to a fast start and held on for a 33-30 win over the previously unbeaten Malvern Lady Leopard Cubs to open play at the second Kameron Hale Invitational Tournament on Wednesday.

Now 8-4, the Lady Hornets advance to face another undefeated team,[more] the Junior Lady Mustangs of Central Arkansas Christian today at 3 p.m., in the semifinals.

The Lady Hornets include Aubree Allen, Jessica Alliston, Andrea Buford, Ashlee Caton, Caylin Choate, Dezarea Duckworth, Kaitlyn Greer, Keedy Harrison, Taylor Matthews, Dee-Dee Mosby, Melinda Murdock, Amber Newman, Destiny Nichols, Brittany Privett, Erica Smith, Rori Whittaker and Alex Wright.

“We did a good job in the first half of being aggressive and getting some easy looks,” said Lady Hornets coach Nathan Castaldi, who was the head coach of the Malvern freshman boys last year before taking the job at Bryant. “Aubree got behind the defense a couple of times for easy layups and Dezerea hit a couple of threes that gave us the lead at the half.”

Bryant led 14-8 after a quarter but pushed the margin to 22-12 by intermission.

“In the second half, we got in some foul trouble but were able to hold on,” Castaldi related. “We did not do as good a job against their pressure in the second half which let them get back in the game.”

The lead was still 10, 28-18, going into the fourth quarter.

“It was a good win for us,” the coach acknowledged. “Malvern is really athletic which gave us some problems, but the girls did a good job of making some adjustments throughout the game.”

Allen led Bryant with 10 points. Duckworth finished with 9 and Whittaker 8. Smith contributed 4 points and Harrison 2.

Regarding today’s foe, Castaldi noted, “We know we are in for a challenge.”

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