By Rob Patrick
PEARCY — Here’s how much the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team has improved:[more]
The first time the they played the Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves on Nov. 28, they trailed 20-2 in the first half, had suffered 16 turnovers in just the first half and wound up losing 43-23.
Fast forward to Thursday night at the Lake Hamilton gym. In the rematch as part of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference slate, the Lady Hornets led almost the entire first half and, with :38 left in the game, trailed by just 24-20.
Though Lake Hamilton held on for a 29-21 win, the Lady Hornets, their fans and head coach Nathan Castaldi had to be encouraged.
“Defensively, we played real well,” the coach commented. “I think, offensively, at times, we played a lot better. And that’s what we’ve been working towards, giving ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter and we had that tonight.”
Even though Lake Hamilton continued to press throughout the game, the Lady Hornets fewer times in four quarters (17) than they had in three the previous meeting.
“We handled the ball a lot better against their pressure, not just got it up the floor but we looked for opportunities to score,” Castaldi noted. “And if you get some cheap ones against their pressure, it makes your offense a lot easier.”
Another key was that the Lady Hornets out-rebounded the stronger Lady Wolves, 30-24, led by Taylor Lindberg and Jayla Anderson with six each and Destiny Huffman with five.
Nikki Clay led the scoring for Bryant with 6 points. Huffman came off the bench for 5 while Anderson and Lindberg added 3 each. Mallory Curry and Kiere Solinger had 2 apiece.
Lake Hamilton’s Sophie Curtis finished with a game-high 7 points. K.K. Nelson added 5.
The Lady Wolves’ only first-half lead was 1-0. An offensive-rebound basket by Curry gave the Lady Hornets the upper hand and they increased that when Curry found Lindberg on an inbounds play for a bucket to make it 4-1.
Jill Kidd got Lake Hamilton’s first field goal with 3:04 left in the first quarter but Lindberg added a free throw and Huffman knocked down a 10-footer before the end of the period give the Lady Hornets a 7-3 lead.
Lake Hamilton tied it at 7 then again at 9 after Solinger scored. A free throw by Jayla Anderson and a 15-foot jumper by Clay had the Lady Hornets up 12-9 before Kidd scored again to set the 12-11 halftime score.
The Lady Wolves gained the upper hand with a 6-0 start to the second half. They had chances to increase that margin but Castaldi used a pair of timeouts to steady his team and, after Lake Hamilton’s Lexie Crone missed a shot coming out of the second of those, Clay drained a jumper to make it a 3-point game.
Bryant trailed 21-16 going into the fourth quarter off a basket from Huffman off a feed from Lindberg.
Neither team could score in the fourth quarter until it was nearly halfway over. It felt like the game hung in the balance based on which team broke that scoreless stretch. So when Curtis did so with a three-point play with 3:20 to go, the Lady Wolves seemed to have the momentum as well as its largest lead at 24-16.
But the Lady Hornets wouldn’t go away. Clay connected on a pair of free throws with 2:30 to go and they got opportunities to close the gap further over the next two minutes. They just couldn’t get a shot to fall until Anderson drove from the right wing for a layup with :38.7 showing, trimming the margin to 24-20.
Castaldi called a timeout but Lake Hamilton handled Bryant press and, with :28.8 left, Brandy Scott was fouled. She converted both ends of the one-and-one and, when the Lady Hornets suffered a turnover, a three-point play by Alex Murray with :19.3 to play, it secured the victory for Lake Hamilton.
The Lady Hornets return home for their next game on Monday, Jan. 23. They’ll be faced with the undefeated Conway White Lady Wampus Kittens.
JUNIOR LADY WOLVES 29, JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 21
Score by quarters
BRYANT 7 5 4 5 — 21
Lake Hamilton 3 8 10 8 — 29
JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 21
Anderson 1-9 1-3 3, Clay 2-2 2-2 6, Davidson 0-2 0-0 0, Curry 1-1 0-0 2, Lindberg 1-6 1-4 3, Huffman 2-5 1-2 5, Solinger 1-1 0-0 2. Total 8-26 5-11 21.
JUNIOR LADY WOLVES 29
Kidd 2-5 0-0 4, Scott 1-7 2-2 4, Crone 1-6 2-2 4, Curtis 3-7 1-1 7, Humphrey 0-3 1-4 1, Stevens 0-0 0-0 0, Murray 0-3 0-0 0, Nelson 2-4 1-1 5, Gray 0-0 0-0 0, Slutta2-5 0-0 4, Sorrel 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 11-41 7-10 29.
Three-point field goals: Lake Hamilton 0-10 (Kidd 0-3, Scott 0-3, Murray 0-2, Nelson 0-1, Slutta 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 30 (Anderson, Lindberg 6), Lake Hamilton 24 (Humphrey 9). Turnovers: Bryant 17, Lake Hamilton 7. Team fouls: Bryant 11, Lake Hamilton 18. Fouled out: Lake Hamilton, Crone.