For more photos of this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
CABOT — For any inexperienced team, in any sport, consistency is probably the most difficult thing to develop. Until you can figure it out, there always seems to be a period of time when the defense falters or the offense dries up or both, and it tends to sap the team of its spark.
At their best this season, the Bryant Lady Hornets have been able to put together three solid quarters but there always seems to be a stretch in which nothing goes their way.
The result has been a deeply disheartening season for the Lady Hornets. But they continue to keep after it.
Friday was just such a night for Bryant. With 1:44 left in the first half, they trailed the Cabot Lady Panthers by just 4 points, 18-14. But baskets by Cabot’s Kenzie Wagner then Josie Vanoss — the latter right at the end of the half — sent momentum into the laps of the Lady Panthers.
That 4-0 spurt at the end of the half developed into a 15-0 burst to start the second half. Cabot took control of the game. The Lady Hornets were right with the Lady Panthers the rest of the way but the result was a 56-35 victory of Cabot, which clinched a bid to the Class 7A State Tournament in Van Buren with the victory.
The Lady Hornets are left with its final two games of the season. They’ll celebrate Senior Night on Tuesday against league-leading North Little Rock before finishing up at Conway on Friday, Feb. 24.
Against Cabot, Bryant was led by sophomore Mary Catherine Selig’s 11 points. Seniors Lania Ratliff and Riley Hill finished with 8 and 6 points, respectively. Kalia Walker and Raven Loveless added 4 apiece and Kendal Rogers had 2.
“I thought, offensively, there were spurts in the game where we did some good stuff,” said Bryant coach Brad Matthews. “Defensively, in the first half, we gave up that big layup right before the buzzer to end the half. We were down 6. That made it 8.
“We didn’t do a good job of closing out,” he added. “That’s something I’ve not done a very good job of emphasizing. We gave up the baseline to drives a lot. We’ll have to go back and work on that some more.”
Cabot broke to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter before Selig hit two free throws to get Bryant on the board. It was 8-2 before Loveless hit a short jumper to make it a 4-point game.
The Lady Panthers went over three minutes without scoring but the Loveless basket was the only points the Lady Hornets could muster in that time as they turned the ball over seven times in the quarter and converted just one of six shots from the field.
Still, they were down just 10-4 going into the second stanza.
Ratliff scored off a rebound but then Cabot extended the lead to 14-7 as fouls began to pile up on the Lady Hornets. But an offensive-rebound basket Rogers and a 3 by Hill helped trim the margin to 16-12.
When Loveless scored on a short jumper with 1:44 to go in the half, it was back to a 4-point margin.
“We came out a little shaky with some turnovers against their press but, after we settled down, I thought we did a really good job handling the ball,” Matthews said. “We had a few too many turnovers in the half-court. That got them out in transition. We gave up some transition buckets, some base-line drives that led to easy baskets.”
The Lady Panthers were sparked by Holly Allen in the third quarter. After being held scoreless in the first half, she came up with all 10 of her points in the third as the lead ballooned to 37-14 before a 3 from Ratliff ended the drought.
“Defensively, we had a couple of breakdowns,” Matthews said. “(Allen) is a really good player for them. We did a really good job on her in the first half. But then we lost her and she hit a 3. We lost her again. She hit a 3. When that happens, all of a sudden, their entire team gains confidence. They had been sputtering along offensively as well.
“When you let them have momentum, it’s tough to turn,” he related. “We just had a few breakdowns that let them have a spurt that they needed.”
Wagner and Selig traded baskets in the final 30 seconds and it was 39-19 going into the fourth quarter.
The lead grew to as much as 26 in the early stages of the quarter. Ratliff hit a 3 then fed Selig for a basket. Vanoss hit two free throws but Hill drilled her second 3 as she was fouled. Though she was unable to complete the four-point play, Selig followed up with a jumper in the lane that trimmed the margin to 51-30.
After Brooklyn Stracener added to the lead, Selig hit two free throws and Walker hit a 3 to get the lead down to 20 but that was as close as they’d get.
“The kids keep fighting, keep competing,” Matthews asserted. “They continue to execute. To their credit, they keep working on executing what we’re trying to do.”
LADY PANTHERS 56, LADY HORNETS 35
Score by quarters
BRYANT 4 10 5 16 — 35
Cabot 10 12 17 17 — 56
LADY HORNETS (0-12, 3-21) 35
Ratliff 3-6 0-3 8, Hill 2-5 0-1 6, Selig 3-7 5-6 11, Walker 1-2 1-4 4, Rogers 1-2 0-0 2, Loveless 2-5 0-2 4, Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Rayford 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-30 6-16 35.
LADY PANTHERS (5-7, 16-9) 56
Harmon 2-5 4-4 10, Bush 0-3 0-0 0, Melder 1-3 3-4 5, Allen 4-9 0-1 10, Vanoss 4-11 2-3 10, Sobczak 2-2 1-3 5, Wagnet 3-4 1-3 7, Roberts 1-2 0-0 2, Stracener 2-2 0-0 4, Thompson 0-0 2-2 2, Dodson 0-0 0-0 0, Nichols 0-0 0-0 0, Grisham 0-0 0-0 0, Stauffer 0-0 1-2 1, Chandler 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-42 14-22 56.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-13 (Ratliff 2-4, Hill 2-4, Walker 1-1, Williams 0-2, Rogers 0-1, Rayford 0-1), Cabot 4-13 (Allen 2-3, Harmon 2-2, Bush 0-3, Vanoss 0-3, Roberts 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 23, Cabot 14. Rebounds: Bryant 10-15 25 (Selig 4-4 8, Ratliff 1-4 5, Rogers 2-2 4, Loveless 3-1 4, Walker 0-1 1, team 0-3 3), Cabot 15-13 28 (Melder 3-3 6, Vanoss 3-2 5, Harmon 3-0 3, Sobczak 2-1 3, Roberts 0-3 3, Wagner 1-1 2, Allen 1-1 2, Stracener 0-2 2, Thompson 1-0 1, team 1-0 1). Team fouls: Bryant 20, Cabot 15. Fouled out: Bryant, Loveless.