By Rob Patrick
CONWAY — When the Bryant Lady Hornets are working in 3D, they can be pretty tough. The three[more] D’s, Davidson, Davis and Duckworth — Courtney, Logan and Dezerea — each scored in double figures on Saturday and the Lady Hornets earned perhaps their most impressive win of the season, 47-44, over the West Memphis Lady Blue Devils in the consolation final of the John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational Tournament.
Duckworth, who had 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds in the game, converted three of four free throws in the final 20 seconds to preserve the win against a frantic West Memphis rally.
Coupled with Thursday’s win over Alma, it’s the first time this season that the Lady Hornets have put together back-to-back wins as they improved to 5-4 overall. They travel to Cabot next Friday to play the defending Class 7A State champs.
Davis led the Lady Hornets with 13 points including a clutch 3-pointer with 2:46 left in the game that extended a 39-37 lead to 5, the largest margin of the game for Bryant. Davidson had 11 points including a driving jumper with 7:20 left in the game that snapped a 33-33 tie and put the Lady Hornets ahead to stay.
But to say it was a three-girl effort would be far from accurate. Every basket and free throw was crucial as Whitney Meyer and Jayla Anderson added 4 points each and Peyton Weaver and Hayley Murphy came through with a basket apiece at key moments in the second half.
And with Kristin Scarlett, the group as a whole played well defensively and on the boards where the Lady Hornets out-rebounded the Lady Blue Devils, 32-31.
“I thought we played well,” stated Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews. “West Memphis is really, really talented. They have a great tradition of success over there. It was a good win for us. They almost beat Conway and Conway is one of the most talented teams in the state. (Conway) beat Fayetteville handily.”
Reflecting on the win, Matthews added, “Camden beat us twice. That kind of hurt us a little bit. Camden’s good and well coached but we thought we could beat them. Being down 5 at halftime and finding a way to win against Alma then tonight, playing well. Hopefully, it’s a good way to elevate our team’s confidence.
“Hopefully, we can really grow from this,” he continued. “We want to win but also we want to (think about) what’d we do right, what did we do wrong. Our whole focus is getting into conference and having success in conference.”
The 7A/6A-South Conference slate for the Lady Hornets begins Jan. 4, when the Lady Hornets host the archrival Benton Lady Panthers. Though not at full strength, Benton lost to West Memphis Thursday.
“We’ve still got a ways to go,” Matthews stated. “It wasn’t perfect. We’ve got to rebound as a team. We don’t have one kid that’s going to get 10, 15 rebounds every night. We work on that daily. We emphasize it. That’s one of those things, hopefully, as we go through the season, we’ll keep improving because, no matter what level, if you can play good defense, rebound and take care of the ball, you have a chance to have success. I know we’re working hard and we’re coming together.”
Though Matthews would prefer not to play zone defense, his team used it effectively against West Memphis. With three starters plagued by two first-half fouls as well, Lady Devils’ head coach Sheila Burns went to a group of perimeter shooters to offset that, the Lady Hornets switched back to the man. Still, West Memphis led most of the first half spurred by Alexis Hamlet before she got into foul trouble, then by Lacarie Jordan who drilled a pair of 3’s in the second quarter.
Hamlet, who wound up leading all scorers with 18 points, scoring 6 points early, West Memphis built an 8-2 lead. Anderson, providing a spark off the bench, hit two free throws after scrambling after an offensive rebound to get the Lady Hornets going. And when Davis drilled the first of her three 3-pointers, the margin was just 8-7 going into the second quarter.
Bryant was unable to gain the lead as the two teams traded points until Jordan hit her two triples around a drive to the rim by Davidson. West Memphis led 18-13 with 2:01 left but couldn’t get any further ahead.
A three-point play by Davidson, who scored 7 of her points in the second quarter, cut into the lead and, after Antonia Motley missed two free throws, Davidson rebounded and got the ball ahead to Davis who drove for a tying layup with 1:11 left in the half.
Motley, who was 1 of 8 from the free-throw line, actually banked in her lone make and Destinie Corter made a steal and layup as West Memphis responded by going back up 21-18 at the half.
And when Hamlet scored the first basket of the second half, the Lady Hornets found themselves trailing 23-18.
The Lady Blue Devils had a chance to increase the margin but Bryant stepped up defensively. Duckworth made a steal and Davis got a layup then Davidson’s theft was cashed in by Weaver, who canned a 10-footer off a dish from Duckworth, cutting the margin to 23-22.
Moments later, Meyer grabbed an offensive rebound and scored. With 4:30 left in the third quarter, Bryant had its first lead of the game, 24-23.
On the play in which Meyer scored, Davidson was fouled as she struggled with a West Memphis player to get in rebounding position, so the Lady Hornets retained possession and took full advantage when Duckworth canned an eight-footer to extend the margin to 26-23.
Hamlet scored but Duckworth trumped her basket with a three-point play and, after Motley misfired at the line, Murphy took a feed from Duckworth and scored to give the Lady Hornets their largest lead of the game, 31-25 with 2:24 left in the third.
But West Memphis finished the quarter with a free throw from Jasmine Patterson and a 3 by Leanza Perry trimming the lead to 33-31 going into the fourth quarter.
And to start the fourth quarter, Hamlet converted a pair of free throws to tie the game. That’s when Davidson attacked the hoop for the go-ahead basket. Perry hit a free throw but then Davis drained a 3 to extend the margin and force a West Memphis timeout.
The Lady Blue Devils kept it close but struggled mightily from the free-throw line. They finished 7 of 21 overall and 5 of 12 in the fourth quarter. Still, they were within 39-37 with 3:18 left. Duckworth was fouled at 3:06 and missed the front end of the one-and-one only to have Meyer maneuver for the rebound. That set up Davis’ clutch 3 that made it 42-37.
Hamlet and Davidson traded baskets so Bryant held a 5-point edge going into the final minute.
The scrambling Lady Devils got a free throw from Raquel Logan. And when she missed the second shot, Hamlet broke into the lane early to rebound and score, making it 44-42 with :58 on the clock.
Bryant worked the ball until taking a timeout with :22 to go. When play resumed, Duckworth was fouled in the backcourt. With :18.8 showing, she hit two free throws to make it a two-possession game.
Keona Stinson hit a jumper with :06 to go, cutting it back to 2 and, after a West Memphis timeout, Davis inbounded the ball to Duckworth who was fouled with :02.9 left. She made the first and missed the second, leaving West Memphis to little time to get off a reasonable shot.
“We knew coming in we had to rebound,” Matthews said. “We knew we had to transition defense and limit their looks in the lane. For the most part, we did that. They’re so explosive offensively. We played zone trying to slow them down and I thought out kids executed our defense really well.
“It’s a tribute to our kids,” he concluded. “It was a really good team effort. It seemed like we had a ton of assists. We were sharing the basketball a lot better. It’s a sign of the team growing and continuing to improve. It’s a positive going forward.”
LADY HORNETS 47, LADY BLUE DEVILS 44
Score by quarters
West Memphis 8 13 10 13 — 44
BRYANT 7 11 15 14 — 47
LADY BLUE DEVILS 44
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Stinson 2-4 0-0 0-1 1 1 4
Hamlet 8-15 2-5 4-3 7 3 18
Logan 0-4 1-2 2-6 8 0 1
Turner 1-2 0-0 1-1 2 3 2
Patterson 1-5 2-4 1-1 2 3 4
Corter 2-3 0-0 1-0 1 1 4
Motley 0-1 1-8 1-3 4 4 1
Perry 1-2 1-2 1-0 1 2 4
Jordan 2-5 0-0 0-0 0 0 6
Woods 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Patterson 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 3-2 5
Totals 17-43 7-21 14-17 31 17 44
LADY HORNETS 47
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Duckworth 3-6 5-8 2-6 8 1 11
Davis 5-18 0-1 2-1 3 1 13
Weaver 1-3 0-0 0-1 1 0 2
Davidson 5-12 1-3 1-6 7 3 11
Meyer 2-3 0-0 3-1 4 3 4
Anderson 0-0 4-4 2-0 2 1 4
Scarlett 0-0 0-0 0-3 3 3 0
Murphy 1-1 0-0 0-1 1 1 2
Team 3-0 3
Totals 17-43 10-16 13-19 32 13 47
Three-point shooting: West Memphis 3-11 (Jordan 2-5, Perry 1-2, Hamlet 0-2, Corter 0-1, Motley 0-1), Bryant 3-9 (Davis 3-9). Turnovers: West Memphis 10, Bryant 11.