Lady Hornets survive scare
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
MAUMELLE — There were some uneasy moments. There are in just about any high school basketball game, of course. But that unease was heightened Monday night for the Bryant Lady Hornets. After all, they were playing their first game of the season without senior point guard Ashley Wallis, an all-State performer and floor-leader.
Wallis, in a wrenching twist of fate, injured her left knee in the team’s season-opening win over Searcy and was lost for the season. She missed her sophomore campaign with the same injury to her right knee.
So, with junior Joanie Robideaux handling the points with ball-handling help from junior Candice Croy and sophomores Meagan Clancy and Jamie Stephens, the Lady Hornets took on the Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves in the first round of the Central Arkansas Christian OrthoArkansas Invitational Tournament.
The uneasy moments came late in regulation play. After leading from the outset, Bryant had built a 15-point advantage late in the third quarter. But in the last two minutes of the third quarter and the rest of regulation, the Lady Hornets could only manage 4 points as Lake Hamilton roared back to tie the game, 44-44, to send it to overtime.
In the extra period, however, Bryant regained its composure, knocked down 11-of-12 free throws and came away with a 55-49 victory to advance to the second round of the tournament Thursday against the winner of the Arkansas Baptist-Lonoke contest.
Senior post Bekka Middleton led the Lady Hornets with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Robideaux added 15 points and Croy 13.
Junior post Kim Jacuzzi came up big to get the Lady Hornets off on the right foot in overtime. The two teams had gone over a minute into the extra period without scoring before Jacuzzi was fouled. She converted to snap the tie.
At the other end, she forced Lake Hamilton’s Courtney Henry (17 points) to alter her shot and rebounded the miss. Robideaux missed a jumper for Bryant but Jacuzzi was there for the rebound. She was fouled on the play and, in a one-and-one situation, again drilled both free throws to make it a 4-point game.
Moments later, however, Jacuzzi fouled out. Lake Hamilton’s Allison Boettger missed the front end of the bonus opportunity, however. Teammate Kelly Parker rebounded and missed before Middleton gathered the carom for Bryant and was fouled.
Middleton made it 50-44 by converting twice and the Lady Hornets were in control.
Lake Hamilton managed to get back to within 3 at 52-49 with :24 left, but free throws by Middleton and Robideaux sealed the win along with the Bryant defense which forced a pair of Lake Hamilton turnovers in the final :20.
Turnovers actually contributed to Bryant’s struggles down the stretch. The Lady Hornets committed 24, 15 after intermission.
Bryant had opened each of the first two quarters with impressive play. In the first period, the Lady Hornets rolled to a 9-1 lead. Middleton had 8 of her points in the quarter, working inside in tandem with senior Shannon Amos who contributed 3 points and 3 rebounds during that early salvo.
Lake Hamilton rallied to within 13-9 before the period was through, however and had a shot to get closer. But Jacuzzi blocked a shot by Henry in the waning seconds and, at the other end, grabbed the carom off her own miss to beat the buzzer, giving Bryant a 6-point advantage at the first break.
Middleton scored off the offensive glass to start the second quarter. Croy hit a follow shot then canned an 18-footer as the lead built back up to 20-9.
Again, however, Lake Hamilton rallied, cutting it to 20-15.
Croy hit two free throws to end a three-minute drought for the Lady Hornets, Amos added a free throw then Jacuzzi fed Robideaux for a layup to make it 25-15.
Parker hit a 3 with :15 left in the half but Middleton was fouled gathering an offensive rebound with :02.9 showing. Her free throws gave Bryant a 27-18 halftime advantage.
Lake Hamilton made another push to start the second half, trimming the lead to 27-23 before Robideaux hit a pair of free throws to get Bryant going. Henry and Middleton traded baskets. After an exchange of turnovers, the Lady Hornets’ fast break provided a layup for Croy off a nice feed from Robideaux. Middleton made a steal and Croy wound up at the free throw line where she made it 35-25.
After Parker missed on a 3-point try, Robideaux buried one from long range and followed it up with a steal and layup that gave Bryant its 15-point bulge with 2:04 left in the third quarter.
It was 40-28 going into the final minute. Jacuzzi blocked another shot by Henry but on a held ball, Lake Hamilton retained possession. But Clancy and Stephens combined on a steal and Croy cashed in with a layup that made it 42-28 going into the final period.
Bryant did not score again, though, until Croy’s layup off a Clancy steal with 5:02 left in the game. That fortified Bryant edge, 44-35. But it was the last the Lady Hornets scored in regulation.
Parker tied it with a 12-foot jumper with 1:01 left to play. In turn, the Lady Hornets spread the floor and got the Lady Wolves to commit their sixth team foul of the half with :13.4 to play.
After a timeout, the Lady Hornets worked for a last shot. Croy took it but the shot was partially blocked. Middleton managed to control the ricochet but missed a fallaway jumper 10 feet out on the baseline at the buzzer and the overtime ensued.