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).
By Rob Patrick
LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant Lady Hornets advanced to the championship game of the 64th Joe T. Robinson Tournament at Pulaski Robinson High School after outlasting the Arkadelphia Lady Badgers, 52-37, in the semifinals on Thursday night.
Bryant will play Pulaski Academy for the championship tonight at 7.The win improved the Lady Hornets to 6-0. It was their fourth straight win by exactly 15 points. (The other two were by 14 and 19, respectively.) But it may have included as much adversity as the team has seen this season.
The Lady Badgers were a “tough out” as they say in baseball. They played a stingy 2-3 zone defense and attacked Bryant’s rotation of defenses effectively for quite a while. The Lady Hornets put together a 14-2 blitz at the end of the third quarter to gain some breathing room.[more]
“We’ve faced zones already this year but we shot the ball really well against those zones,” noted Lady Hornets coach Blake Condley. “Tonight, we didn’t shoot as well so we had to find other ways to score and we had to find other ways to attack the zone. That was the challenge I gave the girls at halftime, we’re going to have to get down into the heart of that zone. We’re used to us making those shots, we’re not making them tonight. We’ve got to do something different.
“I said, ‘All the games are not going to be easy. Let’s see if we can find a way to win when we don’t feel like we’re playing as well as we can,’” Condley recounted “And I was proud of the girls. I thought they did. They did what they had to do to win the game.”
The Lady Hornets converted just 9 of 28 shots from the field in the first half including only 2 of 10 from 3-point range. Yet, they led 9-7 after a quarter and 23-22 at the half.
Alana Morris, who scored 7 of her team-high 15 points in the second quarter, scored inside to start the second half. The bucket came just moments after Abbi Stearns blocked a shot by Arkadelphia’s Jasmine Dickerson, one of four blocks for Stearns in the game.
But Chelsea Welch, on her way to a game-high 17 points, sparked a surge by the Lady Badgers that had them up 27-25 with 5:25 left in the third quarter.
A 3-pointer by Hannah Goshien returned the lead to the Lady Hornets and, as it turned out, they never trailed again.
Kenzee Calley drilled a 15-foot jumper to add to the Bryant lead. Dickerson hit a free throw to keep her team with 30-28 but that’s when the Lady Hornets took off.
“I felt like we got in behind the zone to get some easy shots,” Condley mentioned of his team’s eventual cracking of the Lady Badgers’ zone. “We used some dribble penetration to get down into that zone and, once we scored, we were able to get into our press. I thought after we made a couple of shots, we bounced a little more and moved a little quicker on defense to cut off the passing lanes. You get a little momentum going your way and you just kind of feed off it. I felt like we did that in the third quarter, especially.”
Indeed, Stearns and Calley provided the spark initially. Stearns grabbed an offensive rebound and scored as she was fouled with 2:43 left in the period. She completed the three-point play then, in the press, knocked a pass away toward Goshien who whipped a throw back to Stearns as she sprinted down the right side of the lane for a layup that made it 35-28.
Bryant forced another turnover and Arkadelphia called a timeout to try to stem the tide. But when play resumed, Calley canned a baseline jumper and, after another Lady Badgers’ turnover, Morris posted up for a basket that gave the Lady Hornets their first double-digit lead at the 1:48 mark.
Goshien and Stearns combined to force a turnover and, after Stearns was unable to get a shot to go, Calley collected the rebound and, moments later, drove the baseline for a hoop that completed an 11-0 run.
Katie Brech ended Arkadelphia’s two-minute drought with a layup and the Lady Badgers had a chance to trim the lead further before the end of the third quarter only to have Stearns reject another shot. With :08 left in the period, Goshien, who finished with 10 points, corded another triple and Bryant led 44-30.
Arkadelphia was not done yet, however. As the fourth quarter commenced, Welch flushed a trey and, after a pair of Bryant misses, Cleketh Roberts scored inside to trim the margin to 9, 44-35.
Condley called timeout then deployed his team in a spread offense, forcing the Lady Badgers to come out of the zone. Arkadelphia avoided that for over a minute before coming out in man defense. Morris immediately drove right past the Arkadelphia player assigned to try to guard her for a layup that made it 47-35 with 3:44 left.
Arkadelphia managed just two free throws the rest of the game while Parish connected on 4 of 4 at the line and Morris added a final point from the line with :12.7 showing.
Welch finished with 17 points. Jordan Cooper had 8 for the Lady Badgers.
Morris, the team’s leading scorer last year, led the Lady Hornets in scoring for the first time this season. She thus became the fifth different player to lead Bryant in scoring over the first six games.
Along with Goshien’s 10, Calley added 8, Stearns 7 and Parish 6.
Condley also praised junior Taylor Neal who stepped in and played well at guard with Haley Montgomery and Johnson limited by foul trouble.
LADY HORNETS 52, LADY BADGERS 37
Score by quarters
Arkadelphia 7 15 8 7 — 37
BRYANT 9 14 21 8 — 52
LADY BADGERS 37
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Williams 0-0 0-0 0-2 2 4 0
Dickerson 0-4 3-6 1-1 2 5 3
Welch 6-13 2-2 0-4 4 3 17
Roberts 1-4 0-0 1-3 4 2 2
Seale 2-8 1-2 2-5 7 4 5
Cooper 2-4 4-7 1-2 3 2 8
Brech 1-3 0-0 1-2 3 0 2
Reid 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 2-3 5
Totals 12-36 10-17 8-22 30 20 37
LADY HORNETS 52
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Montgomery 0-0 0-1 1-0 1 5 0
Goshien 4-9 0-0 1-1 2 1 10
Calley 4-6 0-1 1-2 3 1 8
Stearns 2-6 3-3 3-4 7 3 7
Morris 6-14 3-6 1-4 5 2 15
Parish 1-3 4-5 2-3 5 1 6
Johnson 1-7 0-1 1-1 2 4 3
Neal 1-3 0-0 1-1 2 2 3
Team 2-3 5
Totals 19-48 10-17 13-19 32 19 52
Three-point field goals: Arkadelphia 3-5 (Welch 3-5), Brant 4-14 (Goshien 2-7, Johnson 1-5, Neal 1-2). Turnovers: Arkadelphia 21, Bryant 12.