Middleton big night lifts Lady Hornets by Cabot
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
CABOT — The Bryant Lady Hornets figured to get a big season from senior post Bekka Middleton this year. After all, she was the team’s leading scorer as a junior. The tandem of Middleton inside and Ashley Wallis outside would once again provide the Lady Hornets with an unstoppable combination. When the defense surrounded Middleton, Wallis could make them pay from the outside. If they came out to try to slow Wallis, Middleton would rule in the post.
Either way, the Lady Hornets would thrive with a host of complementary players pitching in as needed.
Unfortunately, the team and their fans were only able to enjoy that combination for about three-quarters of one game. Wallis suffered a season-ending knee injury and suddenly it became imperative that Middleton come through in a big way.
And she has.
On Tuesday, in Bryant’s final non-conference game, Middleton scored a whopping 34 points and collected 17 rebounds to lead the Lady Hornets to a 66-54 win over the Cabot Lady Panthers. It was the 15th time this season — every game the Lady Hornets have played — that Middleton, who has signed to play at UCA next year, has posted a double-double.
In fact, it was the 19th time in a row that the senior has had a double-double dating back to a 41-34 loss to Pine Bluff back on Feb. 16, 1999. That night, Middleton got her rebound double with 11 but was held to 8 points.
It’s a phenomenal run that includes State Tournament games against Fayetteville and West Memphis.
Part of the reason Middleton is still able to get open looks inside — besides her plethora of post moves — has been the increased production from the perimenter from junior guard Candice Croy and, against Cabot, something of a return to form for junior point guard Joanie Robideaux.
Croy struck for 9 points including a 3-pointer and Robideaux, playing for the first time since Dec. 4 without a face mask, added 7 including a 3.
Tiffany Kennedy, who’s turned into a defensive standout for the Lady Hornets, added 7 points to go with four or five steals.
Cabot, led by junior Danielle Sterrenberg took the early lead 9-4 and 10-6. Sterrenberg scored 14 of her team-high 18 points in the first half including 8 in that first quarter run.
Bryant rallied, however. Middleton hit a free throw then came up with a steal and was fouled again. Two tosses cut the lead to 10-9 with :42 left in the quarter.
After Cabot missed two chances to increase the lead, Croy nailed a jumper from the corner to give the Lady Hornets the lead.
They never trailed after that.
Cabot tied it at 16 early in the second period. Sterrenberg did the damage with a conventional three-point play then a 3-point jumper. But Robideaux stepped up to answer the latter 3 with one of her own.
The Lady Hornets closed out the half with a rush. Leading 23-20 with 1:40 to go, Kim Jacuzzi scored inside and, after a Cabot turnover, Middleton hit a short jumper. Croy forced a turnover in the backcourt and, on a quick inbounds play under the basket, Middleton hit a layup to make it 29-20.
The Lady Panthers trimmed the margin to 5 early in the third quarter and had two chances to get closer before Middleton got Bryant back on track with a three-point play.
Middleton, who was 10-of-12 at the line, added another pair of free throws with 3:50 left in the period to increase the lead to double-digits for the first time, 36-26.
It was 42-33 when, again, the Lady Hornets closed the quarter with a surge. Middleton’s layup with 1:25 left was followed by an easy deuce for Kennedy off a nice feed from Meagan Clancy then, with :20 left, Middleton closed out the scoring in the period with a baseline jumper that increased the margin to 48-33.
Croy then caught fire to start the fourth quarter. She hit consecutive jumpers to make it 52-33. Cabot’s Heather Goforth countered with a 3-pointer but Croy trumped that with a 3 of her own.
With that comfortable margin, Lady Hornets head coach Carla Crowder tried some different combinations down the stretch, hoping to find some more offensive firepower. Cabot rallied with the help of a few missed free throws by the Lady Hornets, but the Lady Panthers could get no closer than 11 as Robideaux, Clancy and Kennedy converted at the line to hold them off.
The win was Bryant’s 10th of the season. Friday, AAAAA-South Conference action resumes with the rival Sheridan Lady Jackets visiting Bryant.