VAN BUREN — The Van Buren Lady Pointers have five starters and a sixth off the bench that can light it up from 3-point range. But, on Friday, the Bryant Lady Hornets held them to just three 3’s through the third quarter and, despite being short-handed, was within 28-25 going into the fourth quarter.
In fact, it took a 12-foot jumper by Taylor Sutton at the buzzer to end the third quarter to make it 3 after Bryant’s Raija Todd had cut the margin to 1.
Danae Goodwin started the final quarter with a basket but Bryant’s Rachel Miller scored off a nice feed from Taylor Hill to trim it back to 3 with 6:50 to go.
But the Lady Pointers scored back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 7 and, after a Bryant timeout, spread the floor to work the clock and try to get the Lady Hornets to switch out of their zone.
Bryant tried to trap but with four guards on the court (to go with Goodwin), Van Buren turned that into a final 11-2 run to forge a 45-29 win.
The result pretty much set the seeding from the 7A/6A-Central Conference for the Class 7A State Tournament in Cabot. Conway will be No. 1, Van Buren No. 2 and Bryant No. 3.
The Lady Hornets still have four games in the league but only one, Conway on Tuesday, Feb. 23, is against a 7A team. They’ll host Russellville, a 6A member of the conference, on Tuesday.
“That’s one of the top four or five teams in the state and we’re on the road, down 3 going into the fourth quarter,” acknowledged Bryant head coach Brad Matthews regarding Van Buren. “You can’t really ask much more than that.
“You have to give Van Buren credit,” he added. “I thought they made a bunch of plays in the fourth to extend the lead from 3 to 6 or 7. Then they started holding it and we had to go to some stuff to try to make that up.
“A credit to our kids,” the coach emphasized. “I thought we executed the game plan for about 28 of 32 minutes then Van Buren put us in a spot where we had to do some different stuff. I thought our kids played hard, competed hard. Van Buren just made a few more plays down the stretch than we did.”
The game was tied at 4, 6 and 8 early. With 1:56 left in the first quarter, Miller came through with a three-point play off the offensive glass and despite a basket by Jamilyn Kinney, the Lady Hornets had an 11-10 edge at the end of the quarter.
Bailey Rogers hit Van Buren’s first 3 to start the second quarter. Goodwin stepped out and added another. Her layup with 4:04 left in the half, gave Van Buren an 18-11 lead. She would add a free throw a few moments later.
The Lady Pointers had a chance to extend the 8-point lead but Loveless and Hill combined to force a turnover that Martin cashed in with two free throws.
Martin then swiped the ball and drove to the other end. Though she missed her layup under duress, Hill trailed the play and got the stickback to cut the margin to 19-15 and force a Van Buren turnover.
When play resumed, Kinney misfired and Todd was fouled. She made one of the two shots. And when Kinney missed again, Martin canned a jumper in the lane to make it 19-18 at the half.
Hailey Jennen and Miller traded 3’s to start the second half. Martin made another steal but Lani Snowden swiped it back for Van Buren, leading to a layup for Goodwin. In turn, Martin fed Loveless for a basket and the lead was back to 1.
Goodwin hit two free throws and Todd answered from 12 feet out to make it 26-25.
Over the last 6:30 of the game, the Lady Hornets were limited to one basket, a jumper by Todd as Van Buren pulled away.
LADY POINTERS 45, LADY HORNETS 29
Score by quarters
BRYANT 11 7 7 4 — 29
Van Buren 10 9 9 17 — 45
LADY HORNETS (8-13, 3-7, 2-3) 29
Todd 3-14 1-2 7, Martin 1-3 6-6 8, K.Rogers 0-0 0-0 0, Loveless 2-3 0-0 4, Miller 3-10 1-1 8, Patton 0-0 0-0 0, Hill 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 10-31 (32%) 8-9 (89%) 29.
LADY POINTERS (18-5, 8-2, 3-2) 45
B.Rogers 1-6 0-0 3, Snowden 1-4 0-0 2, Kinney 2-11 0-0 4, Jennen 1-4 0-0 3, Goodwin 7-9 6-8 21, Barlow 1-1 0-0 3, Sutton 4-6 1-2 9. Totals 17-41 (40%) 7-10 (70%) 45.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-12 (Miller 1-5, Todd 0-7), Van Buren 4-16 (B.Rogers 1-6, Goodwin 1-2, Jennen 1-1, Barlow 1-1). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Van Buren 4. Rebounds: Bryant 6-16 22 (Miller 3-3 6, Loveless 0-4 4, K.Rogers 0-4 4, Todd 0-2 2, Hill 2-0 2, Martin 0-1, team 1-2 3), Van Buren 9-16 25 (Jennen 2-6 8, Goodwin 6-1 7, Sutton 0-3 3, Kinney 1-2 3, Snowden 0-2 2, B.Rogers 0-1 1, team 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 7, Van Buren 7.