Lady Hornets repeat as Joe T. champs, applying ‘mercy rule’ to all three tourney victims
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).
Photos by Kevin Nagle
LITTLE ROCK — Mercy!
For the second year in a row — this time with almost a completely different cast — the Bryant Lady Hornets have captured[more] the championship of the Joe T. Robinson Invitational Tournament.
And they did it convincingly. All three of their wins including the 67-39 romp in the final against Camden Fairview, wound up with the ‘mercy rule’ (i.e., the clock runs continuously when a team gets a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter) in effect.
Bryant, which improved to 8-0 on the season going into a home game on Monday against Lake Hamilton, led by as much as 66-35.
The tourney title comes on the heels of the team’s championship at the Crabtree Invitational in Bentonville. They’ll try to go three for three at the annual Spa City Classic in Hot Springs between Christmas and New Years.
“I’m so pleased with our intensity and our hustle,” declared Lady Hornets coach Blake Condley. “There’s not anybody that I see that’s unwilling to get on the floor after loose balls. It’s those little things that need to be there every night that you step out onto the floor. We’re hustling, we’re playing hard, we’re going after loose balls and now the other things are starting to fall into place where girls are hitting shots and we’re hitting them in the right spots and we’re starting to learn each other.
“I’ve talked before about the little nuances that you have to be able to do with your teammates,” he explained. “Things are getting better but I told the girls, we’ve still got a lot of things to work on, a lot of things to improve on and, if we can keep doing that and try to hit stride in a couple of weeks when we get to conference, hopefully, we can have some success there.”
Junior London Abernathy had the hot hand on Friday, drilling 4 of 5 from 3-point range as part of her 16-point performance. Sophomore McKenzie Adams added 15 and Abbi Steans, the team’s lone senior, produced 13 points. Coming off an 18-point performance off the bench in a win over Arkadelphia on Thursday, sophomore Logan Davis hit for 9 and junior Brea Blundell added 7.
Davis hit a free throw in the fourth quarter, otherwise all those points were scored in the first three periods.
Adams was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and sophomore Kiara Moore, who spearheads the Lady Hornets’ pressure defense, was named to the all-tournament team.
“We’ve got one girl that’s back out there playing again,” Condley noted. “Last year, we were so senior-laden I knew what to expect and now I’m just starting to know what to expect from this group. They’re starting to gain my trust that they’re going to show up and play hard every night. And if we can keep doing that — that’s what I tell them, there’s only one thing you can control when you step out onto the floor. That’s your intensity and how hard you play. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Fairview’s Lady Cardinals got to the finals despite the fact that they entered the tournament with their top two scorers, Marva Graves and Kierra Cheeks, out with knee injuries. To their credit, they never let up even when they got deep in a hole. They looked like a team that could make some noise in their conference, the 5A-Southwest.
But Bryant proved to be too much for them right from the start. The Lady Hornets started the game with a 21-2 blitz which commenced nicely with a steal by Stearns and a nice give-and-go between Blundell and Adams that resulted in a three-point play for the latter.
Fairview post player Raven Harbour stuck in an offensive rebound at the 6:56 mark of the first quarter. The Lady Cards wouldn’t score again until Jada Hoof hit two free throws at the 1:29 mark.
In between, Abernathy fed Blundell for a basket then buried the first of her triples. After a timeout, Blundell made a steal and hit a base line jumper, Adams hit a free throw and Moore swiped the ball. She was fouled and hit one of her two shots, making it 12-2.
Adams fed Davis for a layup and, after an illegal screen cost the Lady Cardinals, Davis fed Stearns who was rolling through the lane. She kept rolling to the hoop for a layup to make it 16-2.
Fairview turned the ball over and Stearns drove for a layup. Moments later, Adams splashed a trey and Fairview needed another timeout, trailing 21-2.
Hoof’s free throws interrupted only to have Davis convert a pair at the line before Abernathy beat the buzzer to end the first quarter with a 12-foot jay that made it 25-4.
The lead expanded the 31-6 before Condley brought in his second five. Fairview responded by putting together a 10-0 run. The Bryant starters returned. Still, the Lady Cardinals pulled within 36-24 with :07.7 left. That’s when Moore banked in a short jumper to beat the buzzer, making it a 14-point game at the intermission.
The second half started a lot like the first. Abernathy got the hot hand and her teammates kept finding her. She buried a deep 3 for the first points of the half. After a Fairview turnover, the junior swished a 15-footer and followed up with a theft that led to a bucket by Davis on a jumper from the baseline.
Adams drove and kicked out to Abernathy for another 3 at the 5:31 mark. Another turnover followed and Stearns turned it into a three-point play that made it 51-24.
Hoof’s free throws with 4:52 left in the third quarter, broke the ice in the second half for Fairview. But Davis fed Blundell for a layup, Abernathy made a steal and dished to Stearns for a bucket and it was 55-26.
A drive up the baseline for a hoop by Fairview’s LaTania Porchia provided the first field goal of the second half for her team at the 3:17 mark.
Bryant reached its largest lead late in the third. Stearns fed Abernathy for another troika and, after Hoof converted twice at the line, Brittney Ball dished to Callie Hogancamp for a bucket and Davis followed with a pair of free throws, bumping the score to 64-33.
A stickback by Bre Bates kept the mercy rule from being invoked to start the fourth quarter, but when Davis hit a free throw at the 7:46 mark, the clock started rolling. A free throw by Whitney Meyer with 6:39 left had the lead back to 31 with 6:39 to play.
Everybody got into the game for Bryant. Fairview hit 5 of 8 free throws at the end and Lauren Buck added one for the Lady Hornets as the Lady Cards outscored Bryant 4-3 in the final period.
Condley acknowledged that, taking nothing from the teams the Lady Hornets so far, the competition will get much tougher when conference play begins on Jan. 7.
“I think (the girls know that) but I don’t know if it’ll faze them,” he commented. “I think they’re confident. They’ll be willing to play anybody that’ll step out onto the floor. Yes, it’ll get tougher and we’ve talked about that. And we’ll talk more about it once non-conference is over. Right now, I’m just so proud of their willingness to improve. That’s where we are right now.”
LADY HORNETS 67, LADY CARDINALS 39
Score by quarters
BRYANT 25 13 26 3 — 67
Camden Fairview 4 20 11 4 — 39
LADY HORNETS 67
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Moore 1-2 1-2 0-0 0 2 3
Adams 6-7 2-3 2-6 8 3 15
Abernathy 6-9 0-0 1-0 1 1 16
Stearns 4-5 5-5 0-5 5 1 13
Blundell 3-4 1-4 0-0 0 3 7
L.Davis 2-5 5-6 1-2 3 3 9
Meyer 0-0 1-3 0-2 2 0 1
Hogancamp 1-1 0-0 0-3 3 2 2
Ball 0-1 0-0 1-0 1 1 0
Davidson 0-3 0-0 0-2 2 4 0
Buck 0-1 1-2 0-0 0 1 1
Rice 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Aguilar 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Murphy 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Choate 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Scarlett 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 2-0 2
Totals 23-40 16-25 7-21 28 22 67
LADY CARDINALS 39
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Hoof 2-6 7-8 1-2 3 2 11
Porchia 1-7 2-3 0-0 0 4 4
A.Davis 0-4 4-4 0-1 1 0 4
Bates 3-5 0-5 2-3 5 1 6
Harbour 2-4 0-0 1-1 2 4 4
Smith 1-2 0-1 1-1 2 2 2
Marks 2-4 1-2 2-6 8 2 5
Rials 0-1 3-4 0-1 1 3 3
Crockett 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Williams 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Ford 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 0-3 3
Totals 11-33 17-27 7-18 25 20 39
Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-8 (Abernathy 4-5, Adams 1-1, L.Davis 0-1, Buck 0-1), Camden Fairview 0-3 (Porchia 0-2, Smith 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 14, Camden Fairview 20.