Photos by Kevin Nagle
After the Bryant Lady Hornets freshmen had erased a nine-point second-half deficit against the Cabot South Lady Panthers, pulling even at 22, they managed just one basket over the final 4:45. The Lady Panthers closed out a 32-24 win with a 10-2 run to escape Bryant Middle School gym.
Two 3-pointers in the second half by Cabot South’s Lesley Roberts helped hold off the Lady Hornets. The second came with Bryant trailing just 24-22. The Lady Hornets had a shot at tying it back up only to miss. Raven Loveless fought to get the offensive rebound but, moments later, a turnover cost them a second shot.
With the clock under three minutes, the Lady Panthers were working the ball and at 2:49, it looked like they were giving the Lady Hornets a boost when Roberts pulled up to shoot what appeared to be an ill-advised 3. But the ball found the bottom of the net.
Danielle Singleton hit a shot from the corner off a nice drive-and-dish assist from Paige Adams, trimming it back to a 3-point game with 2:10 left. After a Bryant timeout, Cabot South milked the clock until, with 1:20, the Lady Hornets forced a turnover.
But Bryant turned it back to the Lady Panthers without getting a shot. Jessica Vaughan drove for a layup and, after another turnover, Allison Laney drilled a 15-footer to make it 31-24. In the final seconds, Vaughan added a free throw.
Turnovers plagued Bryant, which suffered 21. That’s the same number of shots the Lady Hornets attempted from the field.
“That’s been one of our Achilles heels all year,” acknowledged Bryant coach Nathan Castaldi. “We’re doing a little bit better job at it and one of the things we’re getting better at is, when we don’t turn it over, we’re scoring off their pressure. I thought we had some good looks the first half off of that but yet still too many turnovers and missed opportunities which leads to easy shots for them.”
The Lady Panthers also out-rebounded the Lady Hornets, 19-13, including 12 on the offensive boards.
Still, the Lady Hornets wouldn’t go away. Cabot South built an 8-2 lead by the end of the first quarter but Bryant’s Kelly Williams opened the scoring in the second period. Loveless added a bucket and a it was suddenly a 2-point game.
Roberts and Singleton traded buckets but then the Lady Panthers closed with a brief run and it was 14-8 at the half.
Chloe Thompson hit a free throw and Roberts, who finished with a game-high 15 points, drove for a layup to extend the margin to 9 with 5:21 left in the third quarter.
Singleton kept the Lady Hornets in the game with jumpers from the right baseline on either side of a free throw by Cabot’s Ryane Thurman. And when Loveless scored inside at 3:15, the lead was just 18-14.
Roberts and Bryant’s Maddie Miller traded free throws and the lead was 19-16. Adams made a steal but Cabot swiped it back and Roberts drilled her first trey with :13 left in the quarter.
At the buzzer, however, Adams was fouled on a desperation 3-point try for 25 feet. She hit two of three free throws to make it 22-18 going into the final six minutes.
An eight-foot jumper by Jasmine Daniels after Williams had come down with an offensive rebound cut the margin to 2. Miller made a steal but Cabot forced a turnover in return.
Thompson missed twice, however, and the Lady Hornets took advantage as Singleton fed Williams for a basket that knotted it up at 22.
Loveless made a steal but, while attempting to work for their first lead of the game, the Lady Hornets had a pass picked off by Roberts, leading to a drive by Vaughan that put Cabot South ahead once more.
Moments later, Roberts hit her second 3.
“Every time we’d make a little run they’d make a shot,” Castaldi noted. “We made a little run then they hit a 3.
“Defensively, I thought we played a pretty good game,” he stated. “They got out in transition some off those turnovers but, against our defense — I thought we played pretty well.”
The Lady Hornets will return to action on Monday at home against Conway White. They open Central Arkansas Junior High Conference play on Thursday, Jan. 15, at Benton.
LADY PANTERS 32, LADY HORNETS 24
Score by quarters
Cabot South 8 6 8 10 — 32
BRYANT 2 6 10 6 — 24
LADY PANTHERS 32
Vaughan 3-4 2-4 8, Thompson 0-0 3-4 3, Thurman 0-6 1-2 1, Roberts 6-13 1-2 15, Alcantara 1-3 0-0 2, Savage 0-1 0-0 0, Laney 1-2 0-0 2, Stull 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 11-29 8-14 32.
LADY HORNETS 24
Adams 0-1 2-3 2, Singleton 4-11 0-0 8, Sparks 0-0 0-0 0, Cullen 0-0 0-0 0, Loveless 3-5 0-2 6, Rowton 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 2-3 0-0 4, Miller 0-0 2-2 2, Daniels 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 10-21 4-7 24.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 0-2 (Adams 0-1, Singleton 0-1), Cabot South 2-9 (Roberts 2-4, Thurman 0-4, Laney 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 21, Cabot South 11. Rebounds: Bryant 5-8 13 (Loveless 3-4 7, Adams 0-1 1, Singleton 0-1 1, Cullen 1-0 1, Rowton 0-1 1, Willaims 1-0 1, Daniels 0-1 1), Cabot South 12-7 19 (Roberts 4-2 6, Alcantara 3-1 4, Vaughan 3-0 3, Thurman 1-1 2, Thompson 1-0 1, Savage 0-1 1, team 0-2 2). Team fouls: Bryant 10, Cabot South 6.