By Rob Patrick
Before the season even started, the Bryant Lady Hornets basketball team had more than its share of[more] adversity to overcome. For a number of reasons including injuries and moves, players that figured to play key roles this season were lost.
But head coach Brad Matthews said he’s been encouraged by the way the players on the team have responded as they get set to open the 2012-13 campaign tonight at Vilonia.
“That’s part of it,” he said of the changes. “It happens at every school. Luckily, it happened before school started. Our kids have been able to go on since school started and we’ve had a great fall.
“Our kids have been working hard, working together,” he noted. “I think our team chemistry is a lot better than it was last year. I know it shows in practice. I look forward to the season to see it show in games because the kids have really been committed and working hard. I think that team chemistry and that togetherness that they’ve been showing in practice will carry us a long way as we move forward.”
Those who were in Matthews’ player rotation last year who have returned include guards Logan Davis, Dezerea Duckworth and Peyton Weaver along with front court players Whitney Meyer, Courtney Davidson and Haley Murphy.
“Logan was an all-conference guard last year,” Matthews said. “She’s had a really good spring, really good summer, really good fall. She has the opportunity to really step up and help carry the load offensively. She’s a great kid, has a great work ethic, just a good teammate overall.
“Dezerea is a junior guard,” he continued. “She has a chance to really lead our team, be offensively an important part of it.
“Peyton Weaver really has made great strides since the summer,” the coach metioned. “I think her consistency and toughness is really starting to show. She’s found a comfort level about what her role is and she’s doing a great job with that.”
Of the inside players, Matthews said, “In our post spot, Whitney Meyer is a 6-1 senior. It’s kind of one of those deals where it’s her senior year and it’s her time. We’re going to rely a lot on her.
“Courtney Davidson was honorable mention all-conference last year,” he said. “We just got her from volleyball. You look back to last year, she had some games that were just really impressive. We told her we have to have that every night now.
“Haley Murphy, another post kid, is coming off a couple of knee surgeries during the summer. She’s slowly rounding into shape. She’s somebody that contributed last year and, once again, we’ll look for her to contribute this year and then some.
“Kristen Scarlett and Erica Smith will help in the post,” Matthews continued. “I think they’re going to have to contribute. They never have really been put in that position but I think they have the talent. I know they have the desire, the work ethic and the commitment to do it. Destin Nichols, a junior guard, contributed a little bit last year but she’s going to have to step up.
“We’ve got eight, nine, 10 kids — a couple of sophomores that are coming up who, hopefully, will be able to help us as we get into the season and they get a little bit of court time,” the coach asserted. “That’s something, for our team — we’re asking kids to do some things they’ve never done before, roles they’ve never played before. But I think, watching them in practice, watching them last spring, summer and fall, they’re more than capable of doing it. It’s just a matter of doing it and then becoming comfortable doing it then doing it night in and night out. That’s where our challenge is. It’s not that we can’t do it, it’s just that consistency that we look for.
“It’s an exciting time of year for every team. I think, for our team, there’s so much newness about it that it’s really exciting for us and our kids.”
After Vilonia tonight, the Lady Hornets will get a baptism of fire against a perennial state power, North Little Rock, on Thursday. Their home opener will be Tuesday, Nov. 20, against Mount St. Mary Academy.
BRYANT LADY HORNETS
2012-13 basketball schedule
Nov. 6 — at Vilonia
Nov, 8 — at North Little Rock
Nov. 20 — Mount St. Mary
Nov. 29-Dec. 1 — at CAC Tournament
Dec. 3-8 — at Conway Tournament
Dec. 14 — at Cabot
Dec. 21 — at Texarkana, Texas
Dec. 27-29 — at Spa City Shootout, Hot Springs
Jan. 4 — Benton*
Jan. 8 — at Pine Bluff*
Jan. 11 — at J.A. Fair*
Jan. 15 — Sheridan*
Jan. 18 — at Texarkana*
Jan. 22 — Lake Hamilton*
Jan. 25 — at El Dorado*
Jan. 29 — at Benton*
Feb. 1 — Pine Bluff*
Feb. 5 — J.A. Fair*
Feb. 8 — at Sheridan*
Feb. 12 — Texarkana*
Feb. 15 — at Lake Hamilton*
Feb. 19 — El Dorado*
Feb. 27-March 2 — Class 7A State Tournament
*7A/6A-South Conference games