Lady Hornets survive illness, Belles
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
During pauses in the action in their AAAAA-Central Conference game against Mount St. Mary’s on Friday, Jan. 21, Bryant Lady Hornets players were bent over with hands on knees. It wasn’t that they were particularly winded, but they were wearing down, as much because of the stomach flu as from the considerable effort of the Belles.
With head coach Rhonda Hall substituting more frequently than usual to keep her players upright, the Lady Hornets nursed an early lead, forced 30 Mount St. Mary’s turnovers and extracted a 59-45 win.
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 16-4 overall this season, 4-3 in conference play, alone in fourth place as the first half of the league’s home-and-home round robin concludes. Bryant was set to open the second half of the league run on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at Little Rock Central with home games ahead against Conway, North Little Rock and Little Rock McClellan, three of the four teams in closest contention with them for a State Tournament bid and seeding.
Amanda Grappe, perhaps the most severely afflicted of the Bryant players, managed to score 22 points and collect 7 rebounds as she worked in and out of the lineup. Near the end of the game, in fact, she had to take herself out of the lineup, dashing off the floor and bypassing the bench on her way to the restroom.
Bryant got a lift off the bench from junior Bridgette McPeak, who added 11 points. Senior Kaci Melhorn, worked into the lineup early, had 4 points. Allison Grappe finished with 9 points, all from the free-throw line, and Ashley Grappe pitched in with 7 points and nine assists.
The Lady Hornets opened up a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Kalin Dreher hit the first basket, a layup, off Ashley Grappe’s first assist. After Amanda Grappe hit a free throw, Ashley’s sparkling pass to Melhorn set up a short jumper that made it 5-0.
A basket by Amanda, who added a free throw and a steal was followed by another bucket for Melhorn and the 10-0 lead.
Lizzie Whipple, in off the bench, finally got Mount St. Mary’s on the board with the first of her four 3-pointers in the game with 3:15 left in the opening period.
The Belles closed within 14-10 before Amie Hubbard hit a baseline jumper to give Bryant a 6-point edge going into the second quarter.
The margin was 20-14 before McPeak hit a 10-footer and followed a MSM turnover with a feed to Amanda Grappe for a bucket to get the lead back to 10. Allison Grappe hit two free throws to make it 26-14 with 3:27 left in the half.
The Belles cut the margin back to 8 going into the final minute of the half. With :28 left, Hubbard hit a free throw and Amanda Grappe rebounded the missed second shot and scored. Ashley Grappe forced a held back, returning possession to the Lady Hornets and a free throw by Allison set the halftime score at 32-20.
The Mount scored the first 6 points of the second half, but Amanda Grappe scored inside off another assist from Ashley, then Ashley drilled a 3-pointer to fend off the challenge.
Bryant led 43-33 going into the fourth quarter. Amanda Grappe’s layup opened the final period. She then made a steal that led to a layup by McPeak off another feed from Ashley. And Bryant had its largest lead at 47-33.
McPeak wound up scoring 7 points in the final period helping to maintain the Bryant lead as Mount St. Mary’s trimmed the lead back to 9 but no less.
Free throws by Amanda and Allison Grappe, McPeak and Robin Steele bumped the margin back to the final 14 points.