By Rob Patrick
After back-to-back losses to the two teams ahead of them in the South Division standings in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference, the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team finished off the regular-season on a winning note. Bryant surged in the second half to dismiss the rival Benton Lady Panthers, 45-23, to head into the league's post-season tournament at Greenbrier on a winning note.
The Lady Hornets will take a 17-6 overall record into the tourney which begins Saturday, Feb. 14. They finish 10-4 in the South Division.
Bryant outscored the Lady Panthers 24-7 in the second half, shutting them out in the final period.
Benton had opened the game with a 10-2 run, led by Brooke Million and Mallory Carver. But when Breanna Blundell grabbed the carom off a teammate's miss and scored with :04 left in the period for the Lady Hornets, it sparked a 15-3 blitz that put them ahead to stay
"Once again, it was those nerves at the start of a game," noted Bryant coach Eric Andrews. "We got some open shots, we just couldn't make anything even from point-blank range. But the girls settled in and we got our press going a little bit, got them to turn the ball over some. We were able to get some easy baskets and once we got those, the other baskets started coming."[more]
Bryant missed its first 10 field-goal attempts of the game but went 7 of 11 in the second period.
The game-turning run was helped along by a steal from Raegan Barker that led to Kayla Sory's basket to start the second quarter. Jessie Taylor made a steal that eventually led to a 3 by Barker that had Bryant back within 10-9.
Million knocked down a pair of free throws to keep her team ahead for a while but Blundell countered with a stickback and, moments later, a 12-foot jumper that put her team ahead 13-12 with 3:30 left in the half.
Callie Hogancamp made a steal that led to a pair of free throws by London Abernathy and, after Benton's Boo Gately trimmed a free throw off the lead, Hogancamp knocked down a short jumper to make it 17-13. "The girls played really hard," Andrews noted. "It was a good team effort with balanced scoring and that's good for us. When you've got several girls that can put up points, that really helps."
Barker wound up leading the Lady Hornets with 9 points. Sory and Blundell finished with 8 each, Taylor 6 and Abernathy 5.
Million led Benton with 9. Carver added 8.
Despite the Bryant run, Benton stayed close. Gately hit the offensive glass for a basket that had her team within 17-15 with 1:48 left in the half. But Taylor hit a pair of free throws and Casey Lee added a basket off an inbounds play under the Bryant hoop to make it 21-16 at the half.
Taylor added a free throw in the opening seconds of the third quarter only to have Carver rip a 3 to trim the margin to 22-19.
That's when the Lady Hornets began a 21-4 run that finished the game. Sory instigated things with a 12-foot jumper and a 3. Barker knocked down a driving jumper in the lane and Sory added a free throw to make it 30-19.
Benton's Tiffany Fleming interrupted with an offensive-rebound basket only to have Barker answer from the baseline. Million connected on a pair of free throws with :09 left in the period but Hogancamp hit a free throw to make it 33-23 going into the final period.
And Million's free throws proved to be the last of Benton's scoring as the lead ballooned to its final apex.
Down the stretch, Barker, Blundell and Abernathy contributed free throws with baskets by Taylor and Abernathy just before the reserves started entering the game. In the final minute, Haley Nichols and Kialyn Miller capped off the scoring.
JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 45, JUNIOR LADY PANTHERS 23
Score by quarters
Benton 10 6 7 0 — 23
BRYANT 4 17 12 12 — 45
JUNIOR LADY PANTHERS 23
Million 2-5 4-4 9, Carver 3-5 0-0 8, Meadors 0-1 1-2 1, Gately 1-4 1-4 3, Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 0-0 0-3 0, Bryant 0-4 0-4 0, Brooks 0-0 0-0 0, K.Parker 0-6 0-0 0, Fleming 1-1 0-0 2, Ramsey 0-0 0-0 0, Pigue 0-0 0-0 0, E.Parker 0-1 0-0 0, Holstead 0-0 0-2 0, Durham 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 7-27 6-19 23.
JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 45
Barker 3-4 2-3 9, Wilson 0-3 0-0 0, Sory 3-4 1-2 8, Lee 1-4 0-0 2, Taylor 2-4 2-11 6, Abernathy 1-3 3-4 5, C.Hogancamp 1-7 1-2 3, Blundell 3-3 2-4 8, A.Hogancamp 0-4 0-0 0, Nichols1-1 0-0 2, Ball 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Hatcher 0-1 0-0 0, Rouse 0-1 0-0 0, A.Hogancamp 0-1 0-0 0, Dudley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-43 11-26 45.
Three-point field goals: Benton 3-9 (Carver 2-2, Million 1-3, Bryant 0-3, K.Parker 0-1), Bryant 2-4 (Barker 1-1, Sory 1-1, C.Hogancamp 0-2). Rebounds: Benton 26 (Gately 6), Bryant 34 (Blundell 9). Turnovers: Benton 17, Bryant 10. Total fouls: Benton 19, Bryant 17. Fouled out: Benton, Bryant.