PEARCY — If the law of averages play out, the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team should have some thrilling victories down the stretch because they’ve certainly had more than their share of heartbreaking losses so far.
Thursday was no different. With 30 seconds left to play, the Lady Hornets had a shot to tie or take the lead over the Mena Junior Lady Bobcats. But a missed shot resulted and a foul gave Mena a chance to ice that game at the free-throw line. They hit the shots to make the final score 37-33 in their favor.
The loss sets up a showdown with rival Benton on Friday at 12:30 p.m., in the consolation bracket of the Kameron Hale Invitational Tournament at Lake Hamilton High School.
“Anytime you play Benton, it’s a big game so I’m looking to see how we respond,” said Lady Hornets coach Nathan Castaldi.
Against Mena, the Lady Hornets fell behind 12-7 in the first quarter and trailed 24-15 at the half.
“We came out sluggish the first half, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Castaldi noted. “We couldn’t contain the basketball, which led to Mena getting uncontested looks after we helped or free throws because they got the ball so deep.
“At halftime, we talked about having more energy on that side of the ball and, the second half, we really responded only giving up 13 points,” he mentioned. “The third quarter, we played as well as we had all year. We got good shots on the offensive end and even forced some turnovers to get some easy looks.”
Bryant surged to take a 29-24 lead by the end of the quarter. But Mena rallied for the win.
“I think, the fourth quarter, we just ran out of gas,” Castaldi said. “We still got good looks on offense but our shots were short.”
Still, Bryant forced a turnover to get the opportunity to tie or take the lead but the shot wouldn’t fall. The Lady Hornets were held to just 4 points in the final stanza.
Kaitlyn Weng led Bryant with 12 points in the game. Addison Funk added 8 with Ashton Inman pitching in with 5. Kristyn Weng and Abbey Inman scored 3 apiece and Jaiyah Jackson 2.