For more photos from this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
It figured that the Bryant Lady Hornets would be up against it Friday night when they hosted an experienced and talented Little Rock Central Lady Tigers team in 7A-Central Conference play at the Hornets Nest. After all, the Lady Tigers had compiled an impressive 12-1 record this season.
And, while both teams had reached the second round of the Class 7A State Tournament last spring, the Lady Tigers returned most of their team while the Lady Hornets retained just one starter and nearly no varsity experience beyond that.
But 2:30 minutes into the contest, when Riley Hill hit a layup off a nice feed from Kelly Williams, the Lady Hornets were within 9-6.
But, sparked by a 3-pointer from Erynn Barnum, the Lady Tigers then put together a 13-0 run as part of a 26-point first quarter on their way to a 57-28 victory.
“They’re really good,” acknowledged Lady Hornets coach Brad Matthews. “They’re going to be one of the top teams in the State. And when they come out making shots, shooting the percentage they did from the perimeter, that’s when they’re going to be a tough out for anybody.
“I thought Central shot the 3 very well and when they do that, they’re so hard to guard,” he observed. “They’re so good in the interior, so good in transition, so good on the boards that, if they’re going to make 3’s on top of all that, they’re going to be hard for anyone to beat.
“They have three or four Division I players,” the coach noted. “They’re highly ranked and it’s very deserved.”
Bre’Amber Scott, one of the players that had starred for them last season, scored 16 in Friday’s win. Barnum added 13 and Abigayle Jackson 11.
“I was proud of our kids’ effort,” Matthews said. “I thought, in the first quarter, we battled hard. I thought we came out a little timid, especially in our press offense. But once we started attacking a little bit more, I thought we executed. We scored some in transition. I thought that was good. That kind of relaxed us a little bit.”
The coach acknowledged that the Lady Hornets are in the process of development, getting better with experience. It’s a process.
“Playing against teams like this is so good for our inexperienced kids,” Matthews related. “Juniors, seniors, sophomores playing against that kind of talent, that kind of athleticism, that kind of height is just so good for our kids. We can’t simulate that (in practice). So every possession is valuable. Every possession can be a teaching point, especially this early in conference.”
Sophomore Mary Catherine Selig led the Lady Hornets with 10 points off the bench. Another sophomore Allison Steen added 7 to go with a team-high six rebounds. Williams, a junior, had 7 as well.
Hill had all 4 of her points during the early going. She was fouled on a three-point try and went to the line to convert twice to get Bryant on the board after Central had scored 4. Barnum hit two free throws then Williams answered off a drive.
Scott hit a 3 before Hill’s layup and it was 9-6.
Central’s run was interrupted by Steen who scored inside off a feed from Kalia Walker. After the Lady Tigers’ Ariyanna Hall hit a running jumper, Selig started finding her way into the teeth of the Central defense and getting to the line. She converted 3 of 4 tries.
At the end of the opening quarter, Abigayle Jackon and Williams traded layups to make it 26-13 going into the second quarter.
It was the most productive period of the game for the Lady Hornets, who scored just 15 the rest of the game.
Though the Lady Hornets stayed with Central on the boards — Bryant had 29 boards to 30 for the Lady Tigers — turnovers plagued them. Though the Lady Hornets got to the free-throw line 26 times, they converted just 14.
As it was, Bryant was limited to free throws most of the second quarter. The lead grew to 22 points before Steen beat the buzzer with a jumper after coming up with a loose ball that was the result of Walker’s 3-point try, which was blocked.
Central led 39-19 at the half. And when they started the fourth with a 12-2 burst, a stretch in which Bryant’s lone points came on two free throws by Williams.
The run produced a 30-point lead for the Lady Tigers, 51-21.
Selig got the Lady Hornets back on track with back-to-back baskets. Still, it was 54-25 going into the final stanza. A free throw by Jordan Greenwood in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, made it a 30-point lead again, resulting in a running clock in accordance with the sportsmanship rule.
The Lady Hornets, now 3-11 overall, will travel to Fort Smith to take on the Southside Lady Mavericks on Tuesday.
LADY TIGERS 57, LADY HORNETS 28
Score by quarters
LR Central 26 13 15 3 — 57
BRYANT 13 6 6 3 — 28
LADY TIGERS (13-1, 2-0) 57
A.Jackson 4-6 3-4 11, Perry 1-3 1-2 3, Scott 6-14 2-3 16, Barnum 4-4 4-6 13, Greenwood 0-5 1-2 1, Hall 3-5 0-0 6, Lewis 1-2 0-1 1, T.Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Peyton 2-4 0-0 5, Ashford 0-1 0-0 0, Woods 0-2 0-0 0, Green 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-46 11-18 57.
LADY HORNETS (3-11, 0-2) 28
Ratliff 0-0 0-0 0, Steen 2-8 3-7 7, Williams 2-8 3-5 7, Hill 1-4 2-5 4, Rogers 0-2 0-0 0, Selig 2-3 6-9 10, Walker 0-5 0-0 0, Adams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 7-30 14-26 28.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 0-7 (Walker 0-4, Williams 0-1, Hill 0-1, Rogers 0-1), LR Central 4-16 (Scott 2-8, Peyton 1-3, Barnum 1-1, Greenwood 0-3, Lewis 0-1). Turnovers: Brant 23, LR Central 14. Rebounds: Bryant 10-19 29 (Steen 3-3 6, Selig 1-4 5, Ratliff 1-3 4, Hill 1-2 3, Rogers 0-3 3, Walker 0-3 3, Williams 1-0 1, team 3-1 4), LR Central 11-19 30 (A.Jackson 4-4 8, Barnum 2-2 4, T.Jackson 0-3 3, Perry 2-0 2, Scott 0-2 2, Greenwood 0-2 2, Hall 0-2 2, Lewis 1-1 2, Peyton 0-2 2, Woods 0-1 1, team 2-0 2). Team fouls: Bryant 13, LR Central 21.