Lady Hornets blitz McClellan
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
The cliched label for it is “a wake-up call.” Your team, struggling with focus, playing well at times, not so well at others, loses a game it was expected to win.
There are plenty of ways to respond, but a team with character, a team that’s used to winning, closes ranks, re-dedicates, re-focuses.
Exhibit A: The Bryant Lady Hornets of 2003-04.
The team entered their AAAAA-Central Conference game with the 13-2 Little Rock McClellan Lady Lions on Friday, Jan. 9, with an up-and-down 8-7 overall record including a loss in their most recent game, at Little Rock Central, a league foe they fully expected to beat.
Things changed, even at practice, noted head coach Rhonda Hall. “I saw something in them this week that I hadn’t seen yet,” she noted. “It was just the listening, a group effort, a team point of view — just more unity. It’s been a good week.”
A good week that was punctuated by an impressive 69-41 thumping of the high-flying Lady Lions.
It helped that they were playing at home. It was just their third game this season on their home court and there increased enthusiasm was obvious from the start.
“That was one thing we all talked about, that they needed to have a little bit more spirit, a little bit more enthusiasm as a group,” Hall said. “And that was one thing they really tried to do tonight. Before the game, during the game, as we went out after halftime, they tried to really pick each other up and that was a big positive for us. They’ve played really well the last two days in practice and have done the same thing.”
“It’s always good to play at home,” stated junior point guard Ashley Grappe, who scored 14 points, handed out seven assists and collected six rebounds in the game. “We always play well here. Hopefully, we’ll play well away now.”
Many of her assists were to sister Amanda Grappe who scored 22 points to go with six rebounds. Amie Hubbard added 12 points and a game-high eight boards. Allison Grappe completed the sister act with 8 points off the bench. Ashley and Allison Grappe as well as Hubbard each connected on a pair of 3-pointers. Each contributed to a second-half flurry that broke the game open.
The Lady Hornets’ next two games are on the road, at Little Rock Hall on Friday, Jan. 16, and at Little Rock Parkview, against the No. 1 team in the state, on Friday, Jan. 23.
“Defensively, we played really well,” Hall said of the effort against McClellan. “That’s still the key to our game, how well we play defense.”
And the key to that on this night was a mix of defenses that included box-and-one and diamond-and-one sets that put a man-to-man focus on McClellan’s star guard Miesha Williams. Primarily, Megan Kennedy or Bridgette McPeak dogged Williams all night and it wound up frustrating her.
“We tried to keep mixing up what we did on (Williams),” Hall said. “She’s been their leading scorer every game. Everybody that I talked to said she’s the key to their team. Obviously, she was. She scored 3 points and she was ready to quit when the game was over.”
Offensively, the Lady Hornets riddled the Lady Lions’ active zone, burning it with ball movement, crisp passing.
“We moved the ball around, reversed it, worked it around and had patience,” Ashley Grappe said. “(The Lady Lions) were more crowded on one side and left the other side of the court wide open. That’s when we would reverse it and it was wide open. If we’re not rushing, when we’re under control, that’s when we play best.”
“The kids worked the ball real good,” Hall agreed. “They realized that the teams that are going to be faster than us, we’re going to have to show more discipline and be willing to pass the ball more.”
The game featured a series of runs early. McClellan scored the first 4 points then the Lady Hornets reeled off a 9-0 stretch capped by Allison Grappe’s first triple.
But before the quarter was over, McClellan tied it at 9. A basket by Amanda Grappe in the final 10 seconds gave Bryant the lead at the first break.
Three minutes into the second quarter, the Lady Lions were still hanging in, trailing 17-14. But the Lady Hornets put a 7-2 run together to take a 25-16 lead at the half.
Chantall Scott, who led McClellan with 13 points, kept her team close early in the third quarter. Bryant’s lead was 28-22 two minutes in but she picked up her fourth foul as Amanda Grappe scored. Though the free throw to make it a three-point play rimmed out, Bryant’s Liz Farrish rebounded and, eventually, Ashley fed Amanda for a layup and a 10-point lead.
That duo then combined to force a turnover that led to a trip to the line for Ashley Grappe, who converted twice to make it 34-22.
A three-point play by Quandero Springs interrupted Bryant’s run but another bucket by Amanda Grappe and a 3 by Allison Grappe extended the lead to 14. After Springs hit a 3, Hubbard hit a pair of free throws and Yousra Elhagemoussa stepped up with a three-point play to make it 44-28.
Bryant led by 14 going into the fourth quarter which they opened with a barrage that included 3-pointers by Hubbard (twice) and Ashley Grappe as well as layups by McPeak and Amanda Grappe.
The lead eventually grew to 30 before Hall got everyone into the game.