Photos by Rick Nation and Kevin Nagle
By Rob Patrick
Most years, the greatest challenge for a team facing the Conway White Lady Cats is dealing[more] with their full-court press. On Thursday night, in the championship of the Bryant Invitational Tournament, however, the Bryant Lady Hornets showed they had the press solved early on. They just cleared out for point guard Skylar Davis and led her do her thing.
The Lady Hornets were pretty stingy on defense as well. In fact, the Lady Cats only had 2 points in the game until they scored off an inbounds play with :03 left in the first quarter.But, in the half-court, the Lady Cats deployed in a 1-2-2 zone the proved to be difficult for Bryant to solve. Much of the night, the Lady Hornets struggled to find open looks against the Conway defense. The result was extended offensive dry spells in each half and, ultimately, a 31-16 loss.
Bryant had established the lead by then. Davis buried a 3 and Britney Sahlmann scored off a drive to make it 5-2. But Sahlmann’s hoop came with 2:01 left in the first quarter and the Lady Hornets didn’t score again until Davis hit a free throw with 1:11 left in the half, over a full quarter of time.
In the interim, Conway White managed a lead but it was just 9-5. After Davis’ free throw, however, India Lattimore grabbed an offensive rebound and scored and, off a Bryant turnover, Hailey Estes knocked down a 3 to make it 14-6.
Sahlmann hit a jumper with :23.8 left in the half and, despite the scoring struggles, the Lady Hornets were within 14-8.
Estes would wind up with 11 points for the Lady Cats. Savannah Lowe got it going in the second half, scoring 10 of her game-high 12 points after the break.
Bryant was paced by Sahlmann’s 8 points. Davis finished with 6 and Peyton Ramsey had a basket.
Ramsey’s basket came with 2:33 left in the game, off a feed by Davis who had made a steal. The layup ended the Lady Hornets’ second-half drought of nearly a quarter’s worth of time.
Estes and Lowe scored the first two buckets of the third quarter and the Lady Cats had chances to make the lead more than 18-8. But Kailey Nagle made a steal and got the ball to Davis who fed Sahlmann for a layup. Davis followed with a theft and another assist to Sahlmann to trim the lead to 18-12.
But that’s when the lid went on the basket for Bryant. Actually, the Lady Hornets began to struggle to even get a shot as Conway tightened the defense, closing off the inside and keeping someone near Davis to keep her from getting a clean look from beyond the arc.
The lead was 23-12 going into the fourth quarter and 29-12 before Ramsey’s basket, too much of a hole with too little time to make it up.
Bryant dropped to 2-3 on the season. The Lady Hornets will open play in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference on Monday at home against the rival Benton Lady Panthers, whom they defeated 24-23 in a Bryant Invitational semifinals thriller on Tuesday.