By Rob Patrick
HOT SPRINGS — Sophomore guard Jayla Anderson didn’t score for the Bryant Lady Hornets in[more] Saturday’s game against the Mount St. Mary Academy Belles but, with the game on the line, she was in the right spot to gather three clutch rebounds and take a charge. Anderson’s play at the end was part of a strong defensive effort by the Lady Hornets in a 38-35 win over the Belles in the consolation bracket of the annual Spa City Shootout at Summit Arena.
The Lady Hornets will play in the consolation final on Monday at 1 p.m., against either the Hot Springs Lakeside Lady Rams or the Clarksville Lady Panthers.
Though they didn’t have one of their best days shooting the ball from the field, the Lady Hornets still avoided the extended scoring droughts that have plagued them in most of their losses this season. As has often been the formula for victory for them, they kept it close with their defense then made plays down the stretch. Offensively, that meant the 3 D’s, Courtney Davidson, Logan Davis and Dezerea Duckworth, who accounted for 36 of Bryant’s points including the last 7 after the game was tied 31-31.
Davis snapped the tie with a drive into the lane for a twisting reach-back jumper with 5:20 left to play. After a Belles miss, Davidson was fouled and converted once to make it 34-31.
After a timeout, Mount’s Mallory Kleine hit a pull-up jumper to cut the lead back to 1. And the Belles had three possessions on which they could’ve taken the lead. Jaynee Arrigno missed a pair of shots on the first chance. On the second, Kleine misfired and Anderson rebounded.
A Bryant turnover produced the third opportunity and the Belles got the ball in the hands of Kleine who managed to get by Davidson after a pump-fake. But Anderson was there to take the charge.
The Lady Hornets took advantage this time as Duckworth drove for a layup that extended the lead to 36-33. And when Mount threw the ball away trying to get it inside to Kleine again, the Belles took a timeout to set up a press.
When play resumed, the Lady Hornets had to use a timeout to avoid a five-second call.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Bryant got it in but had it stolen. The ball got loose again and there was a scramble for it as Anderson and Davis both went to the floor. Davis gained the control and head coach Brad Matthews got a timeout with :46.3 to go.
The resulting possession proved crucial. With :42.2 showing, Davis was fouled and she converted both ends of the one-and-one to make it a two-possession game, 38-33.
It stayed that way until Ellie Bilger hit a running jumper with :15 left to get the Belles back within 3. After a timeout, the Belles forced a turnover and Bilger got two looks only to come up empty. Bryant rebounded at the buzzer as Bryant held on for the win.
“Anytime you’re out of school and out of your routine, it really helps to get a win,” Matthews observed. “It just helps your mood. I know it helps mine. And it helps our team as we move into conference play.”
Bryant opens its 7A/6A-South league slate on Friday, Jan. 4, at home against the rival Benton Lady Panthers.
While shooting just 28 percent from the field (10 of 36), the Lady Hornets kept in Saturday’s game by being aggressive on offense, attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line. Led by Davidson’s 10 of 15 shooting from the stripe, Bryant converted 17 of 23 altogether while Mount, relying mostly on jump shots, was just 1 of 2 at the free-throw line.
Bilger managed to hit enough of those jumpers to lead all scorers with 15 points. The Belles’ primary scorer, Kleine, got into early foul trouble and scored 8 points, all in the second half, to go with a game-high nine rebounds. By alternating Whitney Meyer, Smith, Hayley Murphy and Davidson, Matthews kept a fresh defender on her throughout the game.
Duckworth finished with 14 points, Davidson 12 and Davis 10 for Bryant. Erica Smith had the only other basket.
“Kleine got into a little foul trouble and that obviously helped us,” Matthews stated. “She’s such a good player. (Bilger) did a good job making shots.
“They were patient on offense so we just kind of had to match their patience with discipline on defense, doing what you’re taught to do,” he continued. “We did a better job rebounding today. It’s still something we’ve got to go back and work on.
“I thought, offensively, we ran our stuff well,” the coach concluded. “We executed well and made enough plays to win at the end.”
The game was tied at 8 early on. Davidson hit a free throw to snap the tie but Mount’s Hailey Burnett scored inside to give her team the lead. Smith got a nice lob into the post from Duckworth and scored but Bilger drained a 3 to give her team a 13-11 lead going into the second quarter.
When Bailey Weinsinger drove for the first basket of the second, Mount had what proved to be its largest lead of the game at 15-11. But the Belles didn’t score again for nearly six minutes and the Lady Hornets pushed ahead 19-15.
Bilger ended Mount’s dry spell with an 18-footer with :53 left in the half but Davidson was fouled and converted both free throws to make it 21-17 at the half.
The lead grew to 5 when Duckworth answered a basket by Weinsinger to open the third quarter but then Kleine tossed in back-to-back baskets including a 3. Weinsinger followed up with a 12-footer and Mount held a 26-25 lead.
But a layup by Duckworth and two more free throws by Davidson after she followed her own miss had Bryant back up 29-26 going into the final eight minutes.
A pair of baskets by Bilger and a free throw by Kleine around a driving jay by Davis had the game tied at 31 to set up the final stretch run by the Lady Hornets.
LADY HORNETS 38, BELLES 35
Score by quarters
BRYANT 11 10 8 9 — 38
Mount St. Mary 13 4 9 9 — 35
LADY HORNETS 38
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Duckworth 4-13 5-6 3-3 6 0 14
Davis 4-12 2-2 0-1 1 0 10
Davidson 1-9 10-15 3-5 8 0 12
Scarlett 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
Meyer 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0
Weaver 0-0 0-0 0-2 2 0 0
Smith 1-1 0-0 1-0 1 4 2
Murphy 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
Anderson 0-0 0-0 0-4 4 1 0
Team 2-2 4
Totals 10-36 17-23 9-19 28 9 38
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Bilger 7-16 0-0 0-2 2 2 15
Weinsinger 4-6 0-0 0-1 1 3 8
Stuff 1-1 0-0 1-1 2 3 2
Sloan 0-9 0-0 2-3 5 1 0
Kleine 3-8 1-2 1-8 9 4 8
Burnett 1-1 0-0 1-3 4 2 2
Arrigno 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 0
Sowell 0-0 0-0 2-2 4 2 0
Team 0-3 3
Totals 16-43 1-2 7-23 30 19 35
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-8 (Duckworth 1-1, Davis 0-6, Scarlett 0-1), Mount St. Mary 2-12 (Bilger 1-5, Kleine 1-3, Sloan 0-3, Weinsinger 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 8, Mount St. Mary 12.