Lady Hornets’ fast start sets the stage for dominant performance

For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here; by Kevin Nagle, go here; photos also courtesy of Andrew Schroeder

Sisters Parris Atkins, left, and India Atkins of the Bryant Lady Hornets combine to force a Benton turnover. (Photo by Rick Nation)

For the record:

The first basket made at the new Hornets Arena on Tuesday night was a layup by Bryant’s India Atkins.

The first 3-pointer was by the Lady Hornets’ McKenzie Muse.

The two landmark field goals bookended an 18-2 opening run that had the home team off a running on the way to the first victory at the palace of Saline County, a 54-23 romp over the rival Benton Lady Panthers in the annual Saline County Shootout.

Bryant’s defense was smothering. The Lady Hornets forced Benton into 30 turnovers and just 31 percent shooting (9 of 29).

Tierra Trotter eyes a free throw as Benton’s Jordan Miller watches from mid-court. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Schroeder)

“We were able to get out early and turn them over,” said Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews. “We got out in transition. Our kids played well.

“We were kind of almost too excited, which is extremely predictable,” he mentioned. “I know they were so excited (Monday) when we got in there for a little while and so excited today when they got back in there for our walk-through.”

India Atkins actually scored Bryant’s first two baskets then Tierra Trotter added the first free throw at Hornets Arena. She added a 15-foot jumper to make it 7-0 that led to Benton head coach Jerry Chumley, who played many a game at Bryant’s old gym as a Hornet alum, to call a timeout.

When play resumed, Parris Atkins made a steal and layup to continue the Bryant flurry. Finally, with 3:22 left in the opening quarter, Benton’s Emily Hopper got a 10-foot jumper to break the ice.

But before the Lady Panthers could score again, Parris Atkins added a three-point play, India Atkins hit a free throw, Trotter made a layup off a steal then Muse cashed in a theft with her 3 to make it 18-2.

Bryant’s McKenzie Muse (35) puts up a shot over Benton’s Tuesday Melton (24). (photo by Rick Nation)

After Benton’s Jordan Miller hit a free throw then a layup off a drive, India Atkins banked in a 3 in the final minute of the quarter to make it 21-5.

Already in the bonus, the Lady Hornets added a few free throws early in the second quarter as the lead increased to 24-5 before back-to-back buckets by the Lady Panthers’ Rhema Riley. After India Atkins hit a free throw, the sisters teamed up for a bucket. Parris Atkins made a steal and fed India Atkins for a layup.

Bryant led 29-9 at the half. And the Lady Hornets opened the third quarter with an 11-2 surge that started with a 3 from Muse and concluded with consecutive layups by Trotter off Benton turnovers.

Riley scored but Lexi Taylor’s 3 and another layup by India Atkins had Bryant up 45-13 going into the fourth quarter, which was played with a running clock in accordance with the mercy rule.

Madi Scifres’ 3 to open the fourth increased the margin to 35.

Both coaches cleared their benches after that and, in the late going, Shamya Jordan, Lauryn Taylor and Kaitlyn Weng added to the Bryant scoring.

Madi Scifres attempts a shot inside. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Trotter led the Lady Hornets with 14 points. India Atkins added 11, Muse 8 and Parris Atkins 7. Riley paced Benton with 6.

The Lady Hornets improved to 8-4 on the season going into their 6A-Central Conference opener on Friday at Fort Smith Northside, the defending Class 6A State champion.

LADY HORNETS 54, LADY PANTHERS 23

Score by quarters

Benton            5          4          4          10 — 23

BRYANT           21        6          16        10 — 54

LADY PANTHERS (3-8) 23

Hopper 1-5 0-0 2, Swindle 1-3 0-2 3, Childress 0-2 0-0 0, Melton 0-0 0-0 0, Riley 3-7 0-2 6, Miller 1-3 1-2 3, Clayton 0-2 0-0 0, Howell 0-0 0-0 0, Wright 1-2 0-0 2, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Kutchka 2-3 0-0 5, Newman 0-1 0-0 0, Simmons 0-0 2-3 2, Bostian 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 9-29 (31%) 3-9 (33%) 23.

LADY HORNETS (8-4) 54

Trotter 4-5 6-8 14, P.Atkins 2-7 3-3 7, I.Atkins 4-9 2-6 11, Martin 0-1 0-0 0, Muse 3-6 0-0 8, Le.Taylor 1-3 0-0 3, Russ 0-1 0-0 0, Scifres 1-3 0-0 3, Baker 0-2 0-0 0, Kr.Weng 0-1 0-0 0, Ka.Weng 1-1 0-0 3, La.Taylor 1-2 0-0 2, Ellis 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 18-42 (43%) 11-17 (65%) 54.

Parris Atkins (10) and Benton’s Rhema Riley (45) prepare to open Tuesday’s game with a jump ball. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-19 (Muse 2-4, I.Atkins 1-3, Le.Taylor 1-3, Scifres 1-2, Ka.Weng 1-1, P.Atkins 0-2, Trotter 0-1, Martin 0-1, Baker 0-1, Kr.Weng 0-1), Benton 2-12 (Swindle 1-3, Kushka 1-2, Hopper 0-2, Miller 0-2, Childress 0-1, Clayton 0-1, Newman 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Benton 30. Rebounds: Bryant 9-17 26 (Muse 0-3 3, La.Taylor 1-2 3, Trotter 1-1 2, I.Atkins 2-0 2, Russ 1-1 2, Baker 0-2 2, P.Atkins 1-0 1, Martin 0-1 1, Le.Taylor 0-1 1, Kr.Weng 0-1 1, Ka.Weng 1-0 1, team 2-5 7), Benton 6-19 25 (Riley 3-5 8, Miller 0-3 3, Childress 0-2 2, Melton 0-2 2, Wright 1-1 2, Kushka 1-1 2, Hopper 0-1 1, Howell 0-1 1, Newman 1-0 1, team 0-3 3). Team fouls: Bryant 15, Benton 15.

Lexie Taylor fires a 3 between a pair of Benton defenders. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)



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