Lady Hornets rip Central behind Amanda G’s 40
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
It took awhile, but the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers finally found a way to slow down Amanda Grappe and the Bryant Lady Hornets. They got rougher. Not so unusual in the AAAAA-Central Conference, of course, but it got so bad that, eventually, the officials had to start making some calls to prevent a ruckus or injuries or both.
As it was, the Lady Tigers whittled a 25-point second-half lead down to 6 midway through the fourth quarter. But Bryant converted 11-of-16 at the free-throw line after that and the frustrated Lady Tigers wilted during what proved to be a decisive 13-0 run as Bryant, behind a career-high 40 points from Grappe, claimed a 77-61 victory to improve to 13-1 overall.
Ashley Grappe added 21 points including a layup with 1:23 to play that gave Bryant a 75-56 lead and enabled Lady Hornets coach Rhonda Hall to pull her starters.
“I was really pleased with our work ethic,” Hall said. “I thought the girls played very hard. I was pleased with the way they came back and responded to Central’s run. We knew Central would make a run at it and we tried to stay with our plan and weather the storm and we did that quite well.
Amie Hubbard and Allison Grappe each converted key free throws during Bryant’s late surge. Hubbard, in fact, came through with two clutch tosses with 3:32 left to bump that 6-point lead back up. After a Central miss, Hubbard was fouled on the defensive rebound and converted once at the other end to make it a 9-point game. Amanda Grappe pulled down the rebound from the missed second shot and she too was fouled. Her free throws gave the Lady Hornets their double-digit lead back.
Amanda Grappe had a phenomenal first half, scoring 28 of her points with only two missed shots from the field. She scored on drives, by running the floor as Bryant eviscerated Central’s full-court pressure, and posting up. In the first quarter, Hubbard, Ashley Grappe and Kalin Dreher each picked up assists by feeding Amanda, who had 12 of the team’s 14 points as the Lady Hornets built a 14-7 lead. A late basket by Central’s Sherita Jackson made it 14-9 going into the second quarter.
“I was very proud of how unselfish our players were, especially in the first half,” Hall emphasized. “Amanda had the hot hand and was the person that had the best opportunities to score and the other players were finding ways to get her the basketball. Amanda probably had her best game of the season and she had already had some pretty good games.”
Bryant then put together a 23-5 blitz in which Amanda and Ashley Grappe accounted for 21 points. Bridgette McPeak added a pair of free throws along the way.
In the initial 9-0 surge, Ashley Grappe, who had nine assists in the game, fed Amanda for a short jumper. Moments later, she got another assist on a layup by her sister. Ashley followed with a 3-pointer before hitting a jumper in the lane to make it 23-9.
Central stayed in the game somewhat on the strength of Dominique Smith’s 3-point shooting. Smith had a trio of treys in the period on her way to 14 points in the game. Her third triple with 1:01 left in the half cut Bryant’s lead to 17 after it had been as much as 23. But layup by Ashley and Amanda Grappe before the end of the half gave Bryant a 41-20 bulge at the break.
It was 43-22 early in the third period before Amanda hit a 15-footer, Ashley made a steal and fed Amanda for a layup and a 47-22 lead, the largest of the game.
But that’s when Central ratcheted up the physical defense. Sparked by point guard Rachel Jones (18 points), they whittled the lead to 9 by the end of the third quarter.
A three-point play by Amanda Grappe to start the fourth quarter figured to take some steam out of the Lady Tigers but they continued the onslaught until Jones’ driving layup with 3:41 left made it a 62-56 game.
Along the way, bodies repeatedly hit the floor and frustrations grew for the Lady Hornets who were really only distracted for awhile after playing through the ruggedness most of the game. During a timeout after a particularly nasty exchange, the officials huddled and the game was called a little tighter the rest of the way which, combined with Bryant’s more controlled play, ultimately frustrated the Lady Tigers.