Lady Hornets freshmen enter crucial stretch off good performance against league leaders

For the fourth game in a row, the Bryant Lady Hornets took on one of the best teams in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference on Monday. In fact, the Conway Blue Lady Cats are alone atop the league standings after Monday’s games. Conway Blue won 35-26 over the Lady Hornets who now face crucial games over their final four outings as they vie for a spot in the post-season. All four games, starting with Mount St. Mary Academy on Thursday, are against teams Bryant is in contention with.

“You can’t ask for better practice than the last three games,” noted Lady Hornets coach Nathan Castaldi. “Lake Hamilton, North Little Rock and Conway Blue have really, hopefully, prepared us for this stretch run. We’ve been competitive and seen some things we need to work on. Hopefully, we can fix those and, these last four we can get.”

And the Lady Hornets were competitive Monday night, outscoring Conway Blue 17-10 in the second half. After trailing by as much as 16 midway through the third quarter, Bryant whittled the lead to 9 in the fourth period and had chances to get closer.

“And even the first quarter I thought we played pretty well,” Castaldi said. “That second quarter really hurt us.”

The Lady Hornets actually led 5-2 early in the contest on a 12-foot jumper by Stephanie Cullen and a 3-pointer by Daniele Singleton. But the Lady Cats started attacking the basket, sparked by guard Maridia Harper. The result was that they outscored Bryant 23-4 the rest of the half.

The lead was just 10-5 at the end of the first quarter. Harper scored 6 points in a row including the first basket of the second period. Singleton drove for a layup to break a 10-0 stretch but, after that, the Lady Hornets were limited to free throws by Raven Loveless and Paige Adams.

Trailing 25-9 at the half, the Lady Hornets started the second half with a drive by Adams. Cardrina Nolan answered for the Lady Cats then Bryant put together a surge, sparked by a packed in defense that cut off Conway’s ability to drive.

Cullen hit a free throw and Loveless grabbed an offensive rebound and scored after she’d made a steal on defense. Adams swiped a pass and it led to another Loveless bucket, making it 27-16 going into the fourth quarter.

Harper interrupted the run with a free throw early in the final period but Maddie Miller hit a 10-footer and a few minutes later, Singleton made a steal that led to a trip to the free-throw line for Miller. She converted once to make it 28-19.

After a Conway timeout, Miller made a steal but couldn’t get a contested layup to go in. Nolan and Loveless traded free throws then Nolan and Adams traded baskets.

Myia Yelder scored but so did Loveless. Down 33-24 with 1:02 left, the Lady Hornets forced another Conway turnover but couldn’t take advantage.

In the final 30 seconds, Asiyha Smith and Loveless swapped baskets to set the final score.

Loveless led all scorers with 10 points. Nolan and Harper each had 9 for Conway Blue.


Score by quarters

Conway Blue  10       15       2          8 — 35

BRYANT          5          4          7          10 — 26


Smith 3-5 1-1 7, Nolan 4-5 1-3 9, Yelder 3-9 0-0 6, Chatman 0-2 0-0 0, Harper 4-11 1-3 9, Ferguson 0-0 0-0 0, Webb 0-0 0-0 0, Bonner 1-1 0-0 2, Corley 1-5 0-0 2, Holder 0-0 0-0 0, Wiseman 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-39 3-7 35.


Adams 2-7 1-2 5, Singleton 2-5 0-2 5, Loveless 4-10 2-4 10, Sparks 0-1 0-0 0, Cullen 1-1 1-2 3, Miller 1-4 1-2 3, Rowton 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 10-32 5-12 26.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-4 (Singleton 1-2, Adams 0-2), Conway Blue 0-1 (Yelder 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Conway Blue 14. Rebounds: Bryant 9-14 23 (Loveless 2-2 4, Cullen 1-3 4, Rowton 1-3 4, Adams 1-2 3, Sparks 1-2 3, Miller 1-1 2, Williams 1-0 1, team 1-1 2), Conway Blue 10-16 26 (Yelder 1-3 4, Chatman 1-3 4, Harper 3-1 4, Smith 0-3 3, Nolan 2-1 3, Bonner 0-3 3, Ferguson 0-1 1, Corley 0-1 1, Holder 1-0 1, team 2-0 2). Team fouls: Bryant 8, Conway Blue 9.



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