Lady Hornets respond to coach’s challenge, avenge loss to Van Buren
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 continue posting 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
Photos by Kevin Nagle
Admittedly, the two-and-a-half hour bus ride has an effect beyond[more] the normal advantage of playing at home but the Bryant Lady Hornets, hosting the Van Buren Lady Pointers this time, certainly had more energy, more focus and, in the end, more points on Monday night than they had at Van Buren the previous Tuesday.
Bryant’s 48-37 win not only avenged the 52-48 loss, it began what is essentially the second half of the league’s seven-game round-robin schedule, which the Lady Hornets will be packing into 12 days.
Head coach Blake Condley, during the layoff caused by the midweek snow that postponed yet another game, took the opportunity to lay out the situation for his team.
“We talked about, hey, it’s here. We’ve got two weeks left,” he recounted. “That’s all we’re guaranteed right now. Two weeks. And I challenged the girls. I said I know we’re tired. You know, we’ve been practicing and going hard since August and September. But the reality of it is, in two weeks, you get time off. If we can get in the State Tournament? Three weeks, then you get time off.
“So I said, ‘If you’re not willing to do it just for a couple of weeks then why are you even here? Let’s turn your stuff in. Go do something else. You’re wasting everybody’s time,’” he continued. “And, you know, I thought we responded. This was one of the better-balanced team wins that we’ve had all season long.”
Indeed, the Lady Hornets had three players in double figures. McKenzie Adams led with 13, Kiara Moore and Abbi Stearns added 12 each. Breanna Blundell, who didn’t play at Van Buren, finished with 8. And, led by Stearns’ 10 rebounds, they out-boarded the Lady Pointers 37-28, with 11 caroms on the offensive end.
“That’s just us being active,” Condley stated. “Just putting yourself in the right position instead of standing and watching, being aggressive and making things happen.
“We had girls looking to attack the basket, girls getting up and down the floor, girls moving on offense,” he observed. “And we haven’t had that all the time this season up to this point. Hopefully, we’ll get to playing these games these next couple of weeks, get to playing better, maybe we get on a little run at the end of the season.”
Bryant improved to 16-5 overall and 3-5 in 7A/6A-Central Conference games going into a game at Conway tonight. They’ll finish with four of five games at home starting with Cabot on Friday. Russellville visits next Monday and, after a trip to North Little Rock, the Lady Hornets host Mount St. Mary on Thursday and finish up at home against Little Rock Central on Friday, Feb. 25.
Monday’s win over Van Buren could’ve been more convincing had the Lady Hornets shot the ball better. They finished 17 of 48 from the field (35 percent) and 9 of 16 at the line (56 percent).
“Maybe that happens this next couple of weeks, maybe we get to that point where we do,” Condley pondered, referring to a better shooting performance. “That’s what I’ve told the girls all along. We want to play our best ball at the end of the season. But right now, we’ve got to win some games to make sure we get in the State Tournament to see if we can beat somebody when we get there. One down, six to go.”
Stearns, the lone Bryant senior, sparked the team out of the gate with 9 of her points in the first quarter which ended with the Lady Hornets up 14-10.
Kirbey Blake, who led all scorers with 21 points, hit an early 3 to give the Lady Pointers a 3-2 lead but, as it turned out, that was the last time they held the advantage.
The game was tied at 5 and 10 before a driving jumper by Adams put the Lady Hornets on top for good and initiated an 11-0 run. Stearns finished the first quarter by grabbing the rebound off a miss by Blake and going coast-to-coast for a buzzer-beating layup.
Adams opened the second period with a 3 then, after Van Buren’s Mallory Brown misfired from deep, Moore knocked down a triple to make it 20-10. She’d add a free throw moments later to complete the run.
Gamely, Van Buren whittled on the lead the rest of the half and only trailed 23-20 at the break. Keri Arnold contributed 5 of her 9 points in the game during that stretch with Blake scoring the other 5.
And when Blake hit the first basket of the second half, the Lady Pointers were down just 1. But they would score just 4 points the rest of the quarter. Moore scored 8 of her points in the period including a driving jumper in response to Blake’s bucket. She added two free throws then Adams drove for a three-point play. Abernathy made a steal in the Bryant press and cashed it in with a 3. Another Van Buren turnover followed and the Lady Pointers had to have a timeout at the 4:20 mark.
The Lady Hornets missed a shot when play resumed and Paige Beckner interrupted their run with a basket inside.
In turn, however, Moore drove the lane and kicked out to Adams for another trey. Moore and Abernathy combined to force a turnover and Moore hit a layup. Another turnover resulted in another layup for the sophomore guard and Bryant had produced a 40-24 lead.
Arnold capped the scoring in the quarter to make it a 14-point game going into the final eight minutes. Britney Campbell and Adams traded baskets then Blake hit two free throws as Van Buren stayed within 12 but when Stearns and Blundell scored back-to-back baskets, it was back up to 16.
Bryant missed some opportunities at the line to expand the lead further but Van Buren could get no closer than the final margin which was produced by two more backets from Blake along the way and a pair of free throws by Hannah Patterson in the final minute.
LADY HORNETS 48, LADY POINTERS 37
Score by quarter
Van Buren 10 10 6 11 — 37
BRYANT 14 9 17 8 — 48
LADY POINTERS (12-12, 3-7) 37
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Arnold 4-15 0-0 1-2 3 3 9
Campbell 1-3 0-0 0-6 6 3 2
Blake 8-13 4-5 3-2 5 2 21
Beckner 1-7 1-2 0-6 6 0 3
Brown 0-4 0-0 1-3 4 4 0
Patterson 0-0 2-3 0-0 0 0 2
Alexander 0-3 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
Team 0-3 3
Totals 14-45 7-10 5-23 28 13 37
LADY HORNETS (16-5, 3-5) 37
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Moore 4-10 3-4 0-4 4 3 12
Adams 5-14 1-3 3-3 6 1 13
Abernathy 1-5 0-1 0-5 5 1 3
Stearns 4-10 3-5 1-9 10 1 12
Blundell 3-8 2-2 2-3 5 4 8
Meyer 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Hogancamp 0-1 0-1 0-1 1 0 0
Team 5-1 6
Totals 17-48 9-16 11-26 37 10 48
Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-18 (Adams 2-6, Abernathy 1-5, Moore 1-4, Stearns 1-3), Van Buren 2-13 (Arnold 1-7, Blake 1-1, Brown 0-2, Alexander 0-2, Campbell 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 18, Van Buren 18.