Lady Bears’ surge, shooting woes stymie Lady Hornets

It took a while for the Fort Smith Northside Lady Bears, now 20-2 on the season, to shake the pesky Bryant Lady Hornets on Friday night. But a spurt at the end of the second quarter and another at the end of the third that extended through the fourth helped the Lady Bears push out to a big lead and a 53-21 victory.

With 2:36 left in the first half, Bryant was within 17-14. But Northside finished with a 9-1 run to make it 26-15 at the half.

And, with 3:10 left in the third quarter, the Lady Hornets only trailed 30-18. But the Lady Bears finished the period with a 10-2 run that pushed the lead to 20. Bryant managed just one free throw in the fourth quarter.

“I thought midway through the third quarter, it’s 30-18, we’re not playing offensively; we’re not making shots and we’re right there,” noted Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews. “We’re one spurt away from playing with a top two or three team in the state.”

But the Lady Hornets just couldn’t get shots to go. They were 3 of 14 from the field in the first quarter then only had three field goals the rest of the game. They wound up converting just 12 percent of their shots (6 of 49).

Tierra Trotter led Bryant with 9 points. Celena Martin had 6 points and seven rebounds. Kalia Walker added 3 points, India Atkins 2 and Robyn Gordon 1.

For Northside, which featured five players that were 5’10” or taller, 6’ junior Sara Bershers had 16 and 5-11 freshman guard Jersey Wolfenbarger had 12. Tracey Bershers, a 6-1 freshman, had 8 and Sydney Green 7.

Besides the 6-1 Gordon, all of Bryant’s players were 5’6” or less.

“Defensively, it was probably one of our better games,” Matthews related. “Our kids are starting to execute game plans.

“They have three really, really talented scorers, the two kids from Lake Hamilton (the Bershers) and the kid from Missouri (Wolfenbarger),” he noted. “They’re just really hard to guard. I thought, for a lot of the game, we did a really good job of that. And we battled on the boards considering the size differential.

“There were a lot of good things,” the coach emphasized. “I’m proud of our kids. They played hard and really held their own on the boards. When you can hold your own on the boards against a team with that much size, I think that speaks to our effort. Losing is not acceptable but I think there’s still some good things that we’re building on.”

Northside finished with a 43-31 edge on the boards but a lot of that difference came from the fourth quarter when the Lady Bears out-rebounded the Lady Hornets 13-2. Both Bershers sisters had 10 boards. Martin, all 5-6 of her, had seven for Bryant.

Bryant led only briefly when Atkins scored early on to make it 2-1. An offensive-rebound basket by Sara Bershers put Northside ahead. Tracey Bershers added a basket but Trotter drove for a basket and Walker hit a free throw to tie it 5-5.

The Lady Bears scored the next 8 points but Martin hit a jumper in the lane and, followed up with two free throws with :30.3 left in the period. It was 13-9 before Sara Bershers hit a 3 at the buzzer to extend the margin to 7.

But Trotter opened the second stanza with a 3 and, after Gordon and Northside’s Jazzlyn Coleman traded free throws, Martin added one to make it 17-14.

A baseline jumper from Deaira Mays, along with a more aggressive trapping defense, sparked the Lady Bears on their run to close the first half. Wolfenbarger hit a 3 during the spurt and Green beat the buzzer to cap it off with Northside up 26-15.

Tracey Bershers drove for a basket to start the third quarter and Green scored inside. But Trotter hit another 3 to make it 30-18.

Back-to-back 3’s from Wolfenbarger and Sara Bershers spurred Northside’s closing spree that had them up 40-18 before Walker hit a 15-footer for Bryant.

Still, it was a 20-point game going into the fourth quarter and, as it turned out, Walker’s bucket was Bryant’s last field goal of the game.

“We just quit attacking that third quarter, started settling,” Matthews said, “then we had that one little spurt when we gave up a couple of 3’s and a transition basket and it kind of got away from us.

“But, really, for about two-and-a-half quarters — and it wasn’t like we were just lighting it up offensively — we were right there,” he asserted. “I think there’s some stuff we’re building on. At the end of the day, we’ve got to be able to score the ball. They keep score for a reason. We’ve got to be able to put bigger numbers up.”

They’ll try to get that done on Tuesday when they travel to Mount St. Mary Academy, one of the teams the Lady Hornets are vying with for a State tournament bid.

Northside improved to 7-1 in the 7A-Central Conference, hanging onto a share of first place with Conway and North Little Rock. The Lady Bears play at Little Rock Central on Tuesday.


Score by quarters

FS Northside   16        10        14        13 — 53

BRYANT          9          6          5          1 — 21

LADY BEARS (20-2, 7-1) 53

Wolfenbarger 5-12 0-0 12, Cooksey 0-2 0-0 0, Green 3-6 1-2 7, S.Bershers 7-10 16, T.Bershers 3-8 2-2 8, Mays 2-8 0-0 4, Evans 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 1-1 1-2 3, Knauls 0-0 0-0 0, Tampus 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 22-49 (45%) 4-6 (67%) 53.

LADY HORNETS (7-12, 3-5) 21

T.Trotter 3-18 1-2 9, Walker 1-10 1-2 3, Atkins 1-8 0-0 2, Martin 1-4 4-5 6, Russ 0-8 0-0 0, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Gordon 0-1 1-2 1, Baker 0-0 0-0 0, Scifres 0-0 0-0 0, S.Trotter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 6-49 (12%) 7-11 (64%) 21.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-19 (T.Trotter 2-10, Walker 0-7, Atkins 0-1, Martin 0-1), FS Northside 5-15 (Wolfenbarger 2-6, S.Bershers 2-2, Tampus 1-2, Green 0-2, T.Bershers 0-2, Cooksey 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 17, FS Northside 14. Rebounds: Bryant 15-16 31 (Martin 5-2 7, Russ 3-2 5, Atkins 1-3 4, Gordon 3-1 4, T.Trotter 0-2 2, Walker 0-2 2, team 3-4 7), FS Northside 14-29 43 (S.Bershers 3-7 10, T.Bershers 3-7 10, Coleman 2-5 7, Mays 2-2 4, Evans 2-1 3, Green 0-2 2, Cooksey 1-1 2, Wolfenbarger 0-1, team 1-3 4). Team fouls: Bryant 10, FS Northside 16.

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