By Rob Patrick
With 56 seconds left to play, the Conway Lady Wampus Kittens eighth grade team of Carl Stuart Middle School tied the Bryant Blue Lady Hornets eighth grade team of Bethel Middle School in their game at Bryant Middle School’s gym on Monday night.
And moments later, the Lady Hornets suffered a turnover that had Conway in position to win.
The Kittens took an ill-advised shot but gathered the rebound and their head coach called timeout to set something up.
But when play resumed, Bryant’s Keedy Harrison made a swiped the ball and was fouled. With :18 showing, Harrison went to the free throw line shooting a one-and-one. Though she couldn’t get the first shot to fall, teammate Deserea Duckworth shot into the lane, grabbed the rebound and scored with :16 left.[more]
The Lady Hornets applied some full-court pressure defense and held on for a 31-29 victory in a thriller that saw Bryant come back from a 7-point halftime deficit.
Duckworth finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds to lead the rally. Andrea Buford added 4 points, Rori Whittaker 3 and Erica Smith 2.
The Lady Hornets improved to 7-1 on the season with the victory which wrapped up their pre-Christmas schedule. They won’t play again until Jan. 7, 2010, at Cabot South.
Bryant broke out to an 8-4 lead to start the game and it proved to be the team’s largest lead of the night. The game was tied at 4 when Smith fed Buford for a layup and, after a Conway turnover, Duckworth hit the offensive glass for a basket.
But, by the end of the first quarter, Conway had managed an 11-10 advantage.
Duckworth’s drive to the hoop produced the first basket of the second quarter but then the Lady Kittens went on an 8-0 run to build their 19-12 halftime advantage.
Whittaker made a steal and knocked down a short jumper to get Bryant Blue back on track early in the third quarter. She followed up with a free throw after another Conway turnover, one of 17 the Lady Hornets forced.
The Lady Kittens missed several opportunities to answer before Duckworth scored as she was fouled with 3:42 left in the period, pulling her team within 2.
Conway scored but Duckworth hit a free throw and, on her missed second shot, Buford tipped the rebound back to her and she scored to make it 21-20. Another turnover resulted in another trip to the line for Duckworth and she tied it with one of the two free throws.
A Conway free throw broke the tie but when Duckworth’s driving layup went, the Lady Hornets had the lead again. It was 25-22 going into the fourth quarter.
The teams traded points for most of the fourth quarter but when the Lady Hornets were unable to get free throws to fall in the final two minutes, the Lady Kittens were able to tie it, setting up the dramatic finish.