RUSSELLVILLE — Bryant Lady Hornets freshman coach Nathan Castaldi praised the defensive work of Celena Martin and the second-half offensive play of Tierra Trotter in a 32-19 victory over the Russellville Lady Whirlwinds on Thursday night at Russellville Junior High.
The Lady Hornets improved to 18-4 on the season and 11-4 in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference headed into the final week of the regular season. They finish up with a trip to Cabot South on Monday then visit Conway White on Thursday.
The CAJHC post-season tournament begins on Wednesday, Feb. 15, with first round games at the Benton Arena for the boys and at the Bryant Middle School gym for the girls.
At Russellville, the Lady Hornets led 8-3 after a quarter and 12-9 at the half.
“We started a little slow the first half,” Castaldi observed. “We were playing well defensively but could not capitalize on the offensive end. We had several fast-break opportunities that we came up empty on and missed nine free throws.
“Celena did a great job on defense,” he noted. “She guarded their best player (who had 18 against us the first time we played on Dec. 12) and held her to 7 points (5 on free throws and one steal and layup). I was extremely proud of her.”
Trotter, led the team with 14 points, sparked the offense in the second half.
“The second half we looked a little more like ourselves,” Castraldi said. “We were more patient on offense and got some good looks inside. We were also 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
“I thought Tierra played a great second half,” he continued. “I challenged her a halftime to step up and she did. She got us in our offense, made shots, had a few assists and played good defense.”
Martin finished with 9 points. Lexi Taylor, Ivory Russ and Alivia Allen each added 3.
Bryant led 18-12 going into the fourth quarter.