Photo courtesy of Michael Long
BEEBE — Two teams that had plans to play for the championship of the Badger Holiday Classic on Saturday wound up playing each other for third place. And the intensity of the contest kind of reflected that.
But the Bryant Lady Hornets found a way to win at the end, 44-41.
After leading most of the game, the Lady Hornets were clinging to a 37-36 lead with three minutes left to play.
At the 2:52 mark, India Atkins took a nice feed from Celena Martin, scored and was fouled. She completed the three-point play and the Lady Badgers were never that close again, though they had a shot in the final seconds to tie the game and send it to overtime.
After Atkins’ three-point play, the Lady Hornets forced a Beebe turnover. Head coach Brad Matthews took a timeout to maintain the possession when one of his players got trapped near the sideline.
But the Lady Hornets missed a shot to increase the margin and, with 1:16 left, Beebe’s Meredith Webber was fouled. She missed the front end of the one-and-one, however, and the Lady Hornets spread the floor offensively until Ivory Russ found a driving lane for a basket with :55 to go.
Beebe cut it back to a 4-point lead when Webber scored on the fourth offensive rebound of a possession. The Lady Badgers took a quick timeout.
When play resumed, Martin was fouled with :16.9 showing. She swished both ends of the bonus opportunity to make it 44-38.
But Beebe’s Marianna Richey knocked down a 3 with :10 left. At the :07.2 mark, Bryant point guard Tierra Trotter was fouled but, when her first shot would not drop, it left an opening for the Lady Badgers. Richey sized up another 3-point try but it missed, and Bryant held on for the victory.
“We did not have a lot of energy today,” Matthews acknowledged. “Give Beebe credit. They beat us to a lot of rebounds, beat us to a lot of loose balls. They made a lot of hustle plays that we’ve really made all year. Really, this is the first game all year where the other team has beaten us to those kinds of spots. Obviously, they showed us something we’ve got to make sure we get better at.
“We’ve been in three tournaments,” the coach noted. “We beat Lake Hamilton at Lake Hamilton, beat Morrilton at Morrilton and beat Beebe at Beebe. That doesn’t happen very often in a year, you beat three host teams in their tournaments. That and being 10-2, it’s a good way to end the non-conference part of our schedule.”
Bryant opens play in the 6A-Central Conference next Friday against the nationally-ranked Fort Smith Northside Lady Bears, who are 12-0.
“When we come back, obviously, we get a full dose of what high level basketball’s about and we think we’re ready,” Matthews said. “We know we have the talent to be ready. We’ve just got to learn to bring tremendous effort and execution every night to be able to compete against those really talented teams.”
India Atkins led the Lady Hornets with 11 points but all nine who played contributed to the total. Martin had 8 points, Russ 6.
The Lady Hornets were coming off just their second loss of the season, 51-37, to Little Rock Christian, another highly-ranked team. They opened the game with the first 6 points. Robyn Gordon scored off the offensive glass then Martin took a feed from Trotter and scored. Gordon fed Atkins for a basket and Beebe had to call timeout.
Kyla Jackson got the Lady Badgers on the board then Richey hit the first of her trio of 3’s and the game was tight for the rest of the first quarter. Bryant led 11-9 going into the second.
It was 13-11 and Beebe had two chances to tie or take the lead before Lexi Taylor got free for a layup. Allison Steen made a steal and fed Taylor for another easy deuce and it was a 6-point advantage.
Riley Bridges hit a 15-footer for Beebe, but Trotter fed Martin for a layup and, off another Lady Badgers turnover, Trotter drove for a bucket to make it 21-13.
But the Lady Hornets couldn’t extend the margin any further. A three-point play by Jackson and a 3 by Richey cut it to 2 before Bryant’s Kalia Walker beat the buzzer with a 17-foot jumper to make it 23-19 at the break.
And when Beebe scored the first 4 points of the second half, the game was tied 23-23. A sharp give-and-go with Martin feeding McKenzie Muse for a layup got the Lady Hornets back on track then Trotter made a steal and fed Martin to extend the lead to 4 again.
The teams traded baskets the rest of the quarter and the Lady Hornets took a 32-29 edge into the final eight minutes.
Up to that point, the Lady Hornets had managed just 1 of 11 from 3-point range with Atkins’ 3 midway through the third quarter, breaking their oh-fer. Atkins opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with another triple and Muse followed with a layup that had the Lady Hornets in front 37-29, matching their largest lead of the game.
But Beebe answered with the next 7 points to whittle that margin to 1.
LADY HORNETS 44, LADY BADGERS 41
Score by quarters
BRYANT 11 12 9 12 — 44
Beebe 9 10 10 12 — 41
LADY HORNETS (9-2) 44
Trotter 2-6 0-1 4, I.Atkins 4-8 1-1 11, Martin 3-5 2-2 8, Gordon 1-4 1-2 3, Muse 2-9 0-0 4, Walker 1-4 0-0 2, Steen 1-5 0-0 2, Russ 2-8 2-2 6, Taylor 2-4 0-0 4. Totals18-53 (34%) 6-8 (75%) 44.
LADY BADGERS (6-7) 41
Richey 6-13 2-2 17, Henley 0-5 0-0 0, Jackson 3-5 1-1 7, Bridges 2-7 0-0 4, M.Atkins 2-7 1-3 5, Webber 3-6 0-1 6, Farmer 1-1 0-0 2. Totals17-45 (38%) 4-7 (57%) 41.
Three-point field goals:Bryant 2-14 (I.Atkins 2-4, Muse 0-4, Walker 0-2, Taylor 0-2, Trotter 0-1, Gordon 0-1), Beebe 3-13 (Richey 3-5, M.Atkins 0-4, Henley 0-2, Jackson 0-1, Bridges 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 12, Beebe 17. Rebounds:Bryant 16-15 31 (Steen 5-3 8, Gordon 1-4 5, Muse 1-3 4, Trotter 3-1 4, Russ 3-0 3, Martin 1-2 3, team 2-2 4), Beebe 15-19 34 (Richey 3-5 8, M.Atkins 2-5 7, Webber 2-3 5, Bridges 2-2 4, Jackson 1-2 3, Henley 2-0 2, Farmer 1-0 1, team 2-2 4). Team fouls:Bryant 14, Beebe 13.