Points were hard to come by Friday night at Hornet Arena as both the Bryant Lady Hornets and the Cabot Lady Panthers got after it on defense in their 6A-Central Conference game.
But Lady Hornets’ junior Parris Atkins found a crease in the Cabot defense twice on back-to-back plays that turned her team’s tenuous 36-33 lead into a 40-33 advantage, which was just enough as the defense continued to frustrate the Lady Panthers.
Bryant held on for a 40-37 victory, their first in league play, after they had three games cancelled due to Covid-19 related issues. The Lady Hornets improved to 8-4 on the season going into a game at North Little Rock on Tuesday.
Atkins finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Hornets. Freshman point guard Brilynn Findley added 12 points.
Cabot’s Laylah Reese led her team with 16. Brooke Leonard added 8. Kaitlyn Theobald was held to just one 3.
“Cabot’s very physical,” noted Lady Hornets coach Brad Matthews. “That’s really the first time since Benton (on Dec. 15) that we’ve seen a lot of man (defense). Northside a little bit but tonight’s the first time in quite a while we’ve seen man. At first, we didn’t handle it that well. We weren’t as aggressive. We didn’t have really great player movement.
“Parris got to the rim,” he acknowledged. “The other night, I thought North Little Rock did a better job containing her but then you’ve got Natalie (Edmonson) and Emileigh (Muse) hitting threes. So, we have some people who can score.”
Regarding the increased scoring from Findley, Matthews said, “She’s not as aggressive on offense as she needs to be. Tonight, she was more aggressive.
“We try to be aggressive, let our players play and the chips will fall where they are,” he added. “But defensively, I thought we did a really good job, limiting their stuff.
“Coach (Joanna) Scott and our kids did a great job on defense,” the coach continued. “(Theobald) is a really good player and she scored 3 points tonight. I think she’s going to Harding. We did a much better job guarding them, very good job. I’m really proud of our kids for guarding.
“I’ve got to do a better job getting our kids better shots and having more flow to what we’re doing on offense. We were very stagnant tonight on offense. But we got a win.”
Cabot’s lone lead of the game was 6-5 in the first quarter. Atkins hit two free throws to put the Lady Hornets back on top. Off a Cabot turnover, Atkins fed Findley for a layup to make it 9-6.
Reese, who had 11 of her points in the opening quarter, hit a short jumper in the lane to make it a one-point game then the two teams went back and forth for nearly two scoreless minutes.
But, with 1:47 left in the quarter, Atkins rebounded her own miss, scored and was fouled. She missed the free throw but, at the other end, she joined Edmonson to force a turnover.
Atkins started a drive to the basket but was cut off. She tossed it back outside to Muse who drilled a 3 to make it 14-8.
Cabot came back to tie the game at 16 early in the second quarter but the Lady Panthers were unable to gain the upper hand. Findley snapped the tie with a pair of free throws. Moments later, Lauryn Taylor grabbed an offensive rebound and scored.
Bryant led 22-17 at the half.
The largest lead of the game came early in the third quarter. Findley’s driving jumper had the Lady Hornets up 24-17. Reeves and Atkins traded free throws but, with 4:37 left in the period, Findley drove for a layup and it was 27-18.
Theobald pulled her team out of its slump with her only 3 at the 4:00 mark. The Lady Panthers ended the quarter on a 9-2 run. Bryant held a slim 29-27 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Hornets clamped down with its defense to start the fourth quarter. Cabot couldn’t score until the period was nearly halfway over.
But, likewise, Bryant struggled. Atkins hit a 15-foot jumper and Lauren Lain a free throw.
The teams traded baskets until Atkins’ back-to-back buckets pushed the lead back to 7. The Lady Hornets didn’t score in the final 2:03 but Cabot could manage only a jumper in the lane by Delaney Ringgold with :34 left then a tip in by Leonard at the buzzer.
LADY HORNETS 40, LADY PANTHERS 37
Score by quarters
Cabot 11 6 10 10 — 37
BRYANT 14 8 7 11 — 40
LADY PANTHERS (6-13, 2-4) 37
Cyr 1-2 0-0 2, Ringgold 1-5 1-2 3, Reese 7-11 2-4 16, Theobald 1-11 0-0 3, Siegler 0-1 0-0 0, Madar 0-2 0-0 0, Beaver 1-4 1-3 3, Evans 1-4 0-0 2, Leonard 4-5 0-4 8. Totals 16-45 (36%) 4-13 (31%) 37.
LADY HORNETS (8-4, 1-2) 40
Lain 0-0 1-3 1, Atkins 6-14 5-8 17, Edmonson 1-4 0-0 2, Findley 5-14 2-2 12, Muse 2-6 0-1 6, Taylor 1-1 0-0 2, Winston 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-39 (38%) 8-14 (57%) 40.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-16 (Muse 2-5, Findley 0-6, Edmonson 0-3, Atkins 0-2), Cabot 1-14 (Theobald 1-10, Evans 0-3, Reese 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 18, Cabot 16. Rebounds: Bryant 6-25 31 (Atkins 3-7 10, Muse 0-6 6, Lain 2-3 5, Taylor 1-3 4, Edmonson 0-2 2, Findley 0-1 1, Winston 0-1 1, team 0-2 2), Cabot 8-21 29 (Leonard 2-4 6, Reese 0-5 5, Beaver 3-1 4, Evans 0-3 3, Ringgold 1-1 2, Cyr 0-1 1, Siegler 0-1 1, Madar 0-1 1, team 2-4 6). Team fouls: Bryant 13, Cabot 17.