Lady Hornets past sternest test to date against Sheridan
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
Though, admittedly, it’s not always something good to say about a female but Haley Montgomery — all five-foot-and-a-little — is as tough as a knot; not only physically as she fearlessly attacks the basket, flying full tilt into the heart of an opponent’s defense in the lane and repeatedly getting knocked to the floor, but mentally as well. The Bryant Lady Hornets’ senior guard, regardless of the circumstance, just keeps after it.
She exemplifies the 2009-10 Lady Hornets’ team: Relentless and unflinching.
On Tuesday night, when the team at long last played in their home gym, the Lady Hornets were locked in one of those give-no-quarter-and-take-none kind of wars with the rival Sheridan Lady Jackets. Both teams were uncharacteristically struggling from beyond the 3-point arc so they were in attack mode both offensively and defensively.
With 4:17 left to play, the score was tied at 43. Montgomery made one of those drives into the paint and was fouled. She untied it with her two free throws and, moments later, came up with a steal in the Bryant press and, again, was knocked down taking it to the rack.
She converted twice more and, suddenly, the Lady Hornets were up 4. And when Bryant got the ball back and Abbi Stearns rebounded teammate Hannah Goshien’s missed shot and scored, the Lady Hornets had some long-sought separation, 49-43.
The game which had had 10 lead changes in just the second half to that point, didn’t have another one as the Lady Hornets passed perhaps their most stern test of the season to date, 57-50, over their rivals.[more]
Bryant improved to 8-0 on the season going into the annual Salt Bowl Shootout on Friday against Benton at Jack Stephens Center on the campus of UALR.
“Sheridan came ready to play,” acknowledged Lady Hornets coach Blake Condley. “It’s one of those games where they didn’t care what our record was, what their record was, they were going to punch us in the mouth and give us their best shot. They did some things to frustrate us.’
“We didn’t shoot as well tonight as we have some other games but I was really proud of the girls,” he added. “I didn’t feel like we panicked. I felt like we adjusted and started doing other things. We started attacking the basket and trying to get some easy shots, getting to the free-throw line. That’s how you win games. Whenever you’re struggling in one area, you find other ways to win the game.”
In fact, Montgomery scored all 11 of her points from the free-throw line. She was 6 for 6 in the fourth quarter including that four that put her team ahead for good.
“She’s not going to back down from anybody,” Condley said. “You’re not going to convince her that she’s smaller and lighter than every other person on the floor. She’s going to go at it. She’s one of the fiercest competitors we’ve got. She doesn’t want to lose and whatever it takes, whatever she has to do — if it means her ending up on the floor every possession then she’s going to end up on the floor every possession as long as we can come out with a win at the end of the game.”
Montgomery was one of four Lady Hornets in double figures. Stearns led with 12 points. Hannah Goshien added 10 and Kenzee Calley 10. Alana Morris pitched in with 7 to go with her game-high nine rebounds.
“When Abbi wants to play, Abbi’s a good player,” Condley said of Stearns. “Depending on how the flow of the game’s going and her just being able to figure out how to contribute. You look at it and we have Abbi playing as a junior and everybody’s she’s playing with is a senior. I just think she’s got a little maturing to do. She’s come so far from where she was last year. Just watching her in practice, in pre-season, in leading up to now, she’s just going to keep getting better because she’s understanding and learning how to work hard and play hard every game. I think the sky’s the limit for her. I think she can be a tremendous player for us this season and then, of course, I’m excited about her next year.”
Sheridan was led by sophomore post Karson Henry’s 16 points. Lauren Sweeten added 15, Mycah Love 8 and Brittnee Wreyford 7.
Condley was glad to have the win, he allowed, but he also didn’t mind his team being challenged.
“We’re not going to win every game this season by 20 points or by double digits,” he explained. “We need to know how to win close games. We need to know that you’ve got to do to take care of the basketball and you’ve got to make free throws and you’ve got to get stops on defense. That’s one of the big things we’ve worked on from last year to this year. When it’s late in the game, we have to get stops. That’s where you’re going to win games. If you can get stops, the scoring will take care of itself.”
The game was far from over after that fourth-quarter surge that put the Lady Hornets ahead for good. Henry and Morris traded baskets then, after a flurry of turnovers, Wreyford knocked down a free throw to trim the lead to 51-46.
But Goshien, who had struggled from the perimeter up to that point, buried a 3 with 2:16 to play. Morris followed with a free throw and Bryant had it’s largest lead of the game, 55-46 going into the final minute.
Love converted on a pair of free throws and the Lady Jackets forced a turnover. Love got free on a drive to the basket only to have Stearns swat her shot away. Sheridan’s Bianca Hawkins claimed the carom but couldn’t get a short jumper to go and, with :19.2 left, Montgomery was fouled, putting the finishing touches on the win at the free-throw line.
“I’m just very proud of the girls’ composure,” Condley mentioned. “I never felt like they were rattled or that they ever felt like they weren’t going to win the game. They had confidence and felt like we were going to win the game even when we got behind late.”
The Lady Hornets established an early lead but couldn’t shake the Lady Jackets. Shanika Johnson hit a 3 in the final minute of the first quarter to put Bryant ahead 6-4. The shot triggered a 13-2 run that included four free throws by Montgomery and a layup by Goshien to make it 10-6 going into the second quarter. Calley scored off a nice baseline drive and, after Montgomery’s free throws, Calley grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to make it 16-6.
Sweeten drove for a layup to get her team back on track and, by halftime, Sheridan had whittled the lead to 22-19. A 3-pointer by Wreyford with :05 left, punctuated the run.
And it continued in the second half. Wilkins scored the first 4 points of the third quarter and Sheridan had a lead at 23-22.
Goshien and Henry traded hoops then Morris drained a 3. Stearns blocked a shot and was fouled. Her free throws made it 29-25 only to have Sheridan continue its bid to establish a lead. Henry canned a short jumper and, after a Bryant miss, Wreyford knocked down another trey to put the Lady Jackets back on top.
Bryant responded with Brooke Parish hitting a reverse layup. Morris made a steal and Goshien cashed it in with a three-point play to put Bryant up 34-30.
Sheridan, however, would not go away. Sweeten answered Goshien’s three-point play by hitting a pull-up-and-pop jay in the lane as she was fouled. Moments later, Henry put Sheridan ahead but Calley drained a pair of free throws to give Bryant a 37-36 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Sweeten started the final period with a 3 then the teams started trading points as the game was tied at 39, 41, and 43 before Montgomery sparked the 6-0 run that lifted the Lady Hornets into the lead for good.
LADY HORNETS 57, LADY JACKETS 50
Score by quarters
Sheridan 6 13 17 14 — 50
BRYANT 9 12 15 20 — 57
LADY JACKETS 50
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Love 2-6 4-4 1-5 6 4 8
Sweeten 5-11 4-7 0-4 4 3 15
Wreyford 2-5 1-2 0-0 0 2 7
Wilkins 2-3 0-0 0-3 3 5 4
Henry 6-9 4-6 1-0 1 4 16
Hicks 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 2 0
Strange 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Weigand 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Hawkins 0-1 0-0 1-0 1 1 0
Clark 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Team 1-0 1
Totals 17-38 13-19 4-14 18 23 50
LADY HORNETS 57
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Montgomery0-4 11-14 0-2 2 3 11
Goshien 4-8 1-1 1-2 3 2 10
Calley 2-7 6-6 2-3 5 1 10
Stearns 4-5 4-4 2-4 6 3 12
Morris 2-5 2-4 3-6 9 1 7
Parish 1-4 2-2 2-0 2 2 4
Johnson 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 4 3
Team 0-2 2
Totals 14-36 26-31 10-19 29 16 57
Three-point field goals: Sheridan 3-11 (Wreyford 2-5, Sweeten 1-4, Love 0-1, Strange 0-1), Bryant 3-12 (Goshien 1-5, Johnson 1-3, Morris 1-2, Montgomery 0-2). Turnovers: Sheridan 15, Bryant 13.