Lady Hornets hold their own against tough foe
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
As the 2007-08 season began, Bryant Lady Hornets basketball coach Blake Condley had some concerns about his team’s relative lack of size inside. Could his team hold its own against the bigger teams, the ones that had good post play?
Well, in a pre-season scrimmage on Monday, Nov. 12, the Lady Hornets were challenged with a team with as much size and skilled post play as they’re likely to see all season in the Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves, one of the top contenders for State honors in Class 6A. The results were mixed but there was room for encouragement.
Lake Hamilton’s trio of Jessica Weatherford, Suzanne Fincham and Kelci Driggers combined for 41 points to lead their team to a 58-49 win but the Lady Hornets actually out-rebounded the Lady Wolves, 30-26, and only three of Lake Hamilton’s rebounds came at the offensive end.
Sophomore Alana Morris also proved to be a handful for the Lady Wolves to corral as she scored 17 points and collected 14 boards.
“We know what we need to work on,” Condley commented after the game. “We’ve seen some of our weak spots. That’s what I told the girls. We need to take out a night, we’ve got to see the things we need to work on and come back to practice and work. It’s hard to see some of those things when you’re playing each other, beating up on yourself every day.”
In particular, the coach explained, “I thought our halfcourt execution wasn’t what it needed to be. Some of that was because of their defense but then that flips and tells me that we’re not playing aggressive defense long enough. I think we are for a couple of passes, three or four passes but then I think we’re relaxing a little bit. We’ve got to stay intense for a longer duration in the halfcourt setting.
“There are things that I’ve seen in practice, we just didn’t bring it to the game floor,” he added. “I think we’ll be okay.”
Regarding the inside play, Condley agreed that the team may not see anyone with better post play but added, “But, you know, the teams we play in our conference are all going to have good post players and we just need to learn how to guard them, learn how to deal with that and not shy away from playing a team like that.”
Junior Anna Simpson added 12 points for the Lady Hornets, sophomore Hannah Goshien pitched in with 8 as did senior Jasmine Carter. Senior Amber Westbrook came off the bench to help on the boards, hauling down seven caroms.
The game was tight most of the way. Lake Hamilton led just 38-35 after a driving jumper by Bryant’s Brittany Mills with :22 left in the third quarter. But a buzzer-beating 3 by Lake Hamilton’s Tori Hill gave her team a decided edge. Still, it was just 47-41 going into the final six minutes. That’s when Kandace White nailed a 3, Bryant missed one and Driggers added a pair of free throws to expand the lead to double digits for the first time.
Simpson hit a short jumper off a nice feed from Mills and, after a free throw by Fincham, Morris knocked down a jumper in the lane to cut it to 53-45 but that was as close as the Lady Hornets would get as the Lady Wolves converted enough free throws down the stretch to bump the lead to as much as 13.
The Lady Hornets led only briefly in the game. They trailed 14-10 at the end of the first quarter after Driggers hit a jumper at the buzzer to answer a coast-to-coast drive for a layup by Morris.
Carter and Mills combined to force a turnover to start the second stanza and Simpson drove the baseline for a bucket to make it a 2-point game again. After Weatherford scored down low, Carter drained a trey and, moments later, Morris grabbed an offensive rebound and drove for a layup. That gave Bryant its first lead at 17-16 with 4:58 left in the half.
Driggers and Morris traded free throws but, after Driggers hit a jump hook at the 3:24 mark, and Weatherford followed with a pair of free throws, the Lady Wolves were ahead to stay.
At halftime, it was 27-21. Free throws by Fincham expanded the margin to 9 early in the third period. Mills canned a 3 to end an 8-0 run for Lake Hamilton. And, after Kelsey Bean responded for the Lady Wolves, Morris drove for a basket to keep it at 32-26. Driggers hit a free throw but Carter nailed another triple and the Lady Hornets were back within 4, 33-29.
But the Lady Wolves wouldn’t relinquish the lead, bumping it back up to 37-31 before Carter hit two free throws and, after Driggers made one, Mills hit the jumper that had the Lady Hornets within 3.
Driggers’ 17 points matched Morris for game-high honors. Weatherford added 14.