Photos by Kevin Nagle
If you could take away the final 3:22 of the second quarter, the Bryant Lady Hornets come out of Friday’s 7A/6A-Central Conference opener with a victory over the defending Class 6A State champion Greenwood Lady Bulldogs.
But, of course, all 32 minutes of a high school basketball game count so the Lady Bulldogs’ 11-0 run to finish the half made all the difference. Though the resulting 13-point halftime lead was whittled down to 5 at one point in the fourth quarter, the Lady Hornets were unable to fight all the way back as Greenwood held on for a 51-42 win.
Greenwood was led by freshman Kyiah Julian with 15 points but it was post player Erin Black, who scored all 14 of her points in the first half, aided by her five offensive rebounds, that fueled the Lady Bulldogs early success.
With Raija Todd leading Bryant with 20 points and Emily Ridgell adding 14 to go with 10 rebounds, it became a game down the stretch but the Lady Hornets converted just 11 of 21 free throws in the second half, which added to the frustration of 28 percent shooting from the field.
“The second quarter, we were stagnate on offense, didn’t have good movement, didn’t finish,” acknowledged Bryant coach Brad Matthews. “Defensively, it seemed like they killed us on the boards. I thought we did a poor job of blocking out, poor job going to get it. We’ve got to do better as a team, rebounding.
“Greenwood shot it well,” he said. “I thought their post player played really well. (Black), I thought, really was the difference in the game. (Maddie Goodner) is a Division I signee. We held her to 8 but (Black) was the difference.”
Bryant trailed just 18-16 when the tale-tell run began. Black had scored 14 of those 18 points to that point for Greenwood as the Lady Hornets struggled to contain her. That made it seem momentous when she picked up her second foul and came to the bench.
On a shot from the corner by Julian, however, the Lady Bulldogs began their run. Sara Reeves followed up by banking in a 3. Meanwhile, the Lady Hornets went cold from the field. The lead was 27-16 and Bryant got two chances at bonus trips to the free-throw line in the final minute only to come up empty. In between, Greenwood’s Kaila Cartwright scored off the offensive glass to make it 29-16 at the break.
“We left probably 10, 12 points out there,” Matthews said of the game-long struggle at the line. “When you run good offense and you get fouled, you’ve got to convert some points. When we made our runs, if the lead would’ve been 4 or 5, we would’ve taken the lead. But when it’s up to 9 or 10, you cut it down the 4, it’s tough to make that full comeback.
“I thought we did some things offensively in the second half we can build on going forward but, defensively and rebounding — we can’t give up 50, 55 points especially when you consider the second quarter that we had,” he concluded.
Despite a steal and layup by Todd to start the second half, Greenwood built its largest lead on free throws by Ashley Rozell on consecutive trips up the court, making it 33-18.
Bryant responded with a 13-4 push to whittle the margin to 37-31 early in the fourth. Early in the run, the Lady Hornets managed just 2 of 6 free throws. Rachael Miller converted once after grabbing the carom off a missed shot by Ridgell, who had made a steal and had her layup blocked.
Moments later, Kendall Rogers scored off the offensive glass. Despite their early struggled on the boards, the Lady Hornets actually battled back to even with the Lady Bulldogs for the game with 36 rebounds each.
Rogers followed up her basket with a steal that set up a basket by Todd on an up-and-under move in the paint. With the margin down to 10, the Lady Hornets came up empty on a trip to the line and Reeves ended Greenwood’s lull.
The Lady Hornets were picked back up, though, when Ridgell drove for a basket that turned into a three-point play. The lead was under 10 for the first time since late in the first half.
Julian hit a free throw and it was 36-26 going into the final period. A free throw by Goodner made it 37-26 early in the fourth. Raven Loveless countered with one from the line for Bryant. Todd made another steal and, this time, knocked down both free throws when she earned a trip to the stripe.
Greenwood turned it over due to an illegal screen and, with 6:11 left, Ridgell nailed two free throws to make it 37-31.
The Lady Bulldogs pushed it back out to 10, 43-33, but Todd drilled a 3 and, after a timeout, the Lady Hornets got a stop that Ridgell cashed in with a strong drive for a layup. With 3:40 to go, Bryant was only down 5.
But that was as close as the Lady Hornets could get. Goodner, one of the returning starters from the State title team last year, helped settle the Lady Bulldogs.
“You know, it’s the first game of a 14-game conference,” Matthews summed up. “So it’s a marathon.”
Actually, the game doesn’t count toward either team’s bid to make their respective State Tournaments. As a 7A school, only Bryant’s league games against 7A opponents count towards qualifying, which makes their next outing on Tuesday at Mount St. Mary Academy a much more crucial contest.
LADY BULLDOGS 51, LADY HORNETS 42
Score by quarters
Greenwood 11 18 7 15 — 51
BRYANT 9 7 10 16 — 42
LADY BULLDOGS (7-6) 51
Goodner 2-11 4-6 8, Julian 4-11 5-8 15, Reeves 2-3 1-2 6, Rozell 1-4 4-46 6, Black 6-10 2-3 14, Shea 0-4 0-0 0, Summitt 0-2 0-0 0, Pfeifer 0-0 0-0 0, Cartwright 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 16-46 (35%) 16-25 (64%) 51.
LADY HORNETS (5-7) 42
Todd 7-18 4-5 20, Martin 0-5 0-2 0, Ridgell 4-15 6-10 14, Rogers 1-4 1-2 3, Miller 0-0 1-2 1, Loveless 0-1 1-4 1, Patton 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 13-46 (28%) 13-25 (52%) 42.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-13 (Todd 2-6, Patton 1-2, Ridgell 0-4, Rogers 0-1), Greenwood 3-19 (Julian 2-6, Reeves 1-1, Goodner 0-6, Rozell 0-2, Shea 0-2, Summitt 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 16, Greenwood 11. Rebounds: Bryant 16-20 36 (Ridgell 3-7 10, Rogers 4-2 6, Martin 3-2 5, Todd 1-3 4, Miller 2-2 4, Loveless 2-0 2, team 1-4 5), Greenwood 12-24 36 (Reeves 2-5 7, Julian 3-3 6, Black 5-1 6, Cartwright 1-3 4, Rozell 0-4 4, Goodner 0-4 4, Pfeiffer 1-2 3, Shea 0-2 2). Team fouls: Bryant 18, Greenwood 22. Fouled out: Bryant, Miller; Greenwood, Black.