PEARCY — The 2018 Class 1A State tournament runner-up Kirby Trojans came into Saturday’s game against the Bryant Lady Hornets at the Lake Hamilton Classic, already with 10 games under their belts. They’d won seven of them and appear to be on their way to another 30-win season.
The Lady Hornets were only playing their third game of the campaign, but they will not be one of those 30 victims for the Lady Trojans this year.
By outscoring Kirby 36-14 in the second half, the Lady Hornets improved to 2-1 with a 56-35 victory.
“We gave up 15 points in the second quarter and just 14 in the second half,” acknowledged Bryant head coach Brad Matthews. “Once again, it was a good second half. The other night, we didn’t give up that many in the second half.
“We’re getting more and more comfortable,” he assured. “People do different stuff to us so it’s a work in progress,” he continued. “Sometimes it takes a possession to kind of adjust and understand what they’re trying to do so we can adjust.”
Mixing defenses including a man press, a half-court trap and a settled 2-3 zone, the Lady Hornets forced the Lady Trojans into 22 turnovers. And, though Kirby out-rebounded them 36-32, 13 of Bryant’s boards came on the offensive end.
“We picked up a little full-court today,” Matthews said. “You know, Kirby’s so good in the half-court. They’re so disciplined that they were content just to pass the ball 6, 8, 10 times a possession. We wanted to get the tempo going a little bit. We did it in spurts.
“In the end, it was really good,” he stated. “It was a really good game, a really good way to go into the break.
Bryant won’t return to action until opening in a tournament in Morrilton on Monday, Dec. 3.
Allison Steen, played a big part of the defensive effort, finishing with six boards, four blocked shots and 3 points while McKenzie Muse led the team with 17 points and seven rebounds.
In all, 11 different Bryant players scored in the game. Robyn Gordan and Celena Martin each scored 6, Kalia Walker and India Atkins had 5 apiece.
The final score doesn’t indicate how close the contest was most of the day. In fact, going into the final minute of the third period, the Lady Hornets were clinging to a 32-31 edge. Sierra Trotter closed out the quarter with a 3-pointer and it was 35-31 at the break.
In the final period, Kirby was unable to manage a field goal until just 2:47 remained in the game. By then, Bryant had extended the margin to 49-31, a 17-0 run, counting Sierra Trotter’s troika.
The Lady Hornets got hot from the perimeter down the stretch. Muse hit a pair of 3’s, Walker had one as did Lexie Taylor.
For Kirby, 6-foot-2 post McKenzie Jones scored 20 points and collected seven rebounds. She had 14 at the half and didn’t score after a three-point play with 2:39 left in the third quarter.
Matthews allowed that increasing the tempo slowed down Jones.
“She’s very good,” he said. “When she gets clean looks in there, she really good. We knew that coming in. But she still got them. We’ll have to learn from that because we’ll see some others down the road that are good like she is.
“We did a better job with ball pressure,” Matthews said of the second-half approach. “I think our posts did a better job getting around her and we did a much better job coming over from the backside and helping. All those are good.”
Kirby got out to a 6-2 lead in the first quarter before Tierra Trotter drilled a 3 off a kick-out assist by Steen, who had grabbed an offensive board.
The Lady Trojans maintained the upper hand until midway through the second quarter when Steen scored off the offensive glass, Ivory Russ, Tierra Trotter made a steal and Muse cashed in with a stickback that trimmed the margin to 12-11.
After a Kirby timeout, Jones broke through, but Muse scored off a strong drive to the rack. Ivory Russ pulled down the carom off a missed 3 by Kirby’s Gracie Davis. She Russ converted both ends of the one-and-one, the Lady Hornets had their first lead of the game.
Jones countered to put Kirby back up, but Martin scored inside off a nice assist from Tierra Trotter. Off a Kirby turnover, Muse hit a follow shot and Bryant was up 19-16.
Makayla Conner for Kirby and Russ traded free throws then, in the final minute of the half, Joce Mount converted two free throws and Jones scored down low to put the Lady Trojans on top 21-20 at intermission.
The lead swung back and forth as the third quarter unfolded. With 6:26 left, Gordon drained a baseline jumper, Muse made a steal and fed Atkins for a layup and a 28-25 lead, which Bryant would never relinquish.
Still, before the quarter was over, Kirby cut the margin to 32-31, off a three-point play by Jones and a layup off a turnover by Mount.
The Lady Trojans had several chances to regain the lead, but they couldn’t get it done before Sierra Trotter’s 3.
In the fourth quarter, no one scored over the first 2:30. Atkins broke the ice with a pair of free throws. Atkins made another theft and it led to a basket by Walker.
Steen blocked a shot and it led to two more free throws for Atkins. Moments later, Muse took a kickout pass from Martin and dropped the first 3 of Bryant’s late barrage.
The final score was the largest margin of the night. Walker’s 3 and an offensive-rebound basket by Jada Deaton closed it out.
LADY HORNETS 56, LADY TROJANS 35
Score by quarters
Kirby 6 15 10 4 — 35
Bryant5 15 15 21 — 56
LADY TROJANS (7-4) 35
Gr.Davis 3-8 0-0 6, Harmon 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 7-12 6-9 20, Gi.Davis 0-4 0-2 0, Mount 1-3 2-2 4, Dougan 0-3 0-0 0, Golden 0-1 0-0 0, Reid 1-1 0-0 2, Strasner 1-1 0-0 2, Conner 0-2 1-5 1, Johnson 0-0 0-1 0. Totals13-36 (36%) 9-19 (47%) 35.
LADY HORNETS (2-1) 56
T.Trotter 1-6 0-0 3, Atkins 1-8 3-6 5, Martin 3-3 0-2 6, Gordon 3-4 0-0 6, Muse 7-15 1-3 17, Steen 1-5 1-2 3, Walker 2-2 0-0 5, Russ 0-3 3-4 3, Taylor 1-4 0-0 3, S.Trotter 1-4 0-0 3, Deaton 1-1 0-0 2, Scifres 0-0 0-0 0. Totals21-55 (38%) 8-17 (47%) 56.
Three-point field goals:Bryant 6-22 (Muse 2-8, Taylor 1-4, S.Trotter 1-4, T. Trotter 1-3, Walker 1-1, Atkins 0-2), Kirby 0-5 (Gr.Davis 0-3, Gi.Davis 0-1, Mount 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 14, Kirby 22. Rebounds:Bryant 13-19 32 (Muse 2-5 7, Steen 3-3 6, Martin 1-3 4, T.Trotter 0-3 3, Gordon 2-1 3, Atkins 3-0 3, Russ 1-2 3, Deaton 1-0 1, team 0-2 2), Kirby 9-27 36 (Jones 5-2 7, Gi.Davis 0-6 6, Mount 0-5 5, Gr.Davis 1-2 3, Harmon 0-3 3, Golden 1-1 2, Strasner 0-2 2, Reid 1-0 1, Conner 0-1 1, team 1-5 6). Team fouls:Bryant 17, Kirby 17.