BEEBE — When you force another team into 34 turnovers, you usually win handily. But the Blytheville Lady Chickasaws countered that with 34 rebounds to 23 by the Bryant Lady Hornets and made it a game.
In the end, Kalia Walker scored 13 points including two key free throws with :14.8 on the clock to clinch a 42-38 victory for the Lady Hornets in the consolation final of the Badger Holiday Classic at Beebe High School on Saturday afternoon.
After opening with a disappointing 70-40 loss to Batesville Southside, the Lady Hornets wound up 2-1 in the tourney, improving to 4-7 overall going into 7A-Central Conference play on Friday, Jan. 5, at Fort Smith Northside.
After suffering a one-point loss to Greenbrier and a two-point setback to rival Benton over the last week before the Christmas break, the Lady Hornets came through down the stretch against Blytheville after a 10-point first-half lead was erased in the third quarter. The Lady Chicks led 30-27 late in the third before Robyn Gordon scored despite being fouled in the final minute of the period to make it 30-29.
A layup by India Atkins put Bryant back on top 31-30 to open the fourth quarter but a free throw by Shaquita Williams tied the game. It stayed that way as both teams missed opportunities to take the lead over a two-minute stretch. Finally, Bryant took advantage of a steal by Walker. Tierra Trotter fed Lexi Taylor for a basket and the Lady Hornets were back on top to stay.
“Down the stretch, it could’ve gone either way,” acknowledged Bryant head coach Brad Matthews. “I’m proud of our kids for finding a way to win. We didn’t do it against Greenbrier. We didn’t do it against Benton. Today, we got a few good rebounds. We got a few turnovers that led to transition. We made some plays when we needed to.”
After putting the Lady Hornets on top, Taylor came up with a steal and was fouled. Though she missed both free throws, the carom off the second miss went off several sets of hands before Taylor latched onto it and tossed to Walker, who drained a 3.
A steal and layup by Trotter made it 38-31 with 3:04 left.
The Lady Chicks rallied behind the play of forwards Alindavia Lockett and Laurissa Campbell. When Campbell made a steal and layup with :48 left, the Bryant lead was just 40-38.
“They’ve got two really good post kids,” Matthews noted. “They’re really good offensive rebounders and that’s something that’s not really our strength, rebounding. We knew coming in, we had to keep the ball out of the paint. I thought, for the most part, we did that. We let them get a few offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, let them get a transition basket.
“But, I thought for the most part, our kids, defensively, that’s as well as we’ve played to a game plan,” he noted. “So, that’s good to see; that scouting reports are starting to sink in.”
After a Blytheville timeout with :46.9 left, the Lady Hornets did a great job of playing keepaway until Walker was fouled with :14.8 left. Her free throws made it a two-possession game. Lockett tried jumper from the right wing but it missed and Celena Martin collected her ninth rebound of the game.
Taylor finished with 8 points for Bryant. Ivory Russ had 6, Martin 5 with Trotter and India Atkins added 4 each.
Williams led Blytheville with 13 points and 10 boards. Lockett had 9 points and eight rebounds.
Blytheville scored the first 4 points of the game but then the turnovers started to mount and the Lady Hornets began to take advantage to the tune of a 13-2 run that included baskets by Walker, Atkins, Trotter and Martin. Walker’s three-point play made it 13-6.
Lockett scored but in the final minute, Taylor sank her first triple to make it 16-8 going into the second quarter.
It took a while for Bryant to score in the second quarter but Walker made a steal and layup with 5:04 left in the half to make it 18-10. Williams hit an eight-footer. Bryant turned the ball over but Blytheville missed and Martin retrieved the carom, going coast to coast for a basket. Campbell hit a free throw and, after a flurry of turnovers, Trotter fed Taylor for another 3 to make it 23-13, the largest lead of the game.
It was 25-18 at the half after Blytheville’s Timya Rogers made a steal and a layup at the buzzer.
In the third quarter, the Lady Hornets went cold, turning the ball over and missing shots, often from close range. A basket by Russ off an inbounds play under the Bryant basket made it 27-22 with 3:53 left but that was their last basket until the Gordon’s basket in the final minute. Blytheville’s 8-0 run in between produced the lead.
“Offensively, we came out really well, executing, attacking, making shots, doing what we do well,” Matthews observed. “Then we kind of got a little lethargic, a little sloppy mentally. Mental sloppiness is going to lead to turnovers, poor shot selection.
“We’ve got to finish better,” he asserted. “We’re finishing better in spurts. We’ve just got to do it more and get better. It’s concentration, some of it’s youth, some of it’s getting in a hurry. You know, ‘I’m open, I’m going to make it.’ We’ve got good players. They just have to relax and finish.”
LADY HORNETS 42, LADY CHICKASAWS 38
Score by quarters
BRYANT 16 9 4 13 — 42
Blytheville 8 10 12 8 — 38
LADY HORNETS 42
Trotter 2-5 0-0 4, Walker 4-13 4-5 13, Atkins 2-5 0-0 4, Martin 2-6 1-3 5, Russ 2-9 2-3 6, Taylor 3-5 0-2 8, Gordon 1-5 0-1 2, Scifres 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-48 7-14 42.
LADY CHICKASAWS 38
Jones 2-2 0-0 4, Anderson 2-5 1-2 5, Williams 2-5 1-2 5, Campbell 5-13 3-5 13, Lockett 4-5 1-3 9, Rogers 1-3 0-0 2, Gillespie 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 16-35 6-12 38.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-10 (Taylor 2-2, Walker 1-4, Trotter 0-2, Atkins 0-1, Martin 0-1), Blytheville 0-1 (Rogers 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 19, Blytheville 34. Rebounds: Bryant 9-14 23 (Martin 3-6 9, Taylor 2-1 3, Gordon 2-1 3, Walker 1-1 2, Atkins 0-1 1, Russ 0-1 1, team 1-1 2), Blytheville 7-27 34 (Campbell 3-7 10, Jones 1-8 9, Lockett 3-5 8, Gillespie 0-1 1, team 0-6 6). Team fouls: Bryant 14, Blytheville 14.