Photos by Kevin Nagle
Jakeria Otey poured in 31 points including four clutch free throws in the final 30 seconds while Lauren Carroll came through with 7 of her 9 points in the game in the clutch as the Bryant Lady Hornets edged the Alma Airedalettes, 52-47, on Friday night at the Hornets Nest.
Bryant appeared to have the game in hand, leading by 9 a minute into the fourth quarter. But Alma put together a 10-0 run to grab its first lead of the game, 42-41, with 5:01 left in the contest.
The Airedalettes had three chances to add to that but missed a 3 then suffered consecutive turnovers. The second of those was a bad pass against a Bryant trap in the frontcourt. The ball actually hit Bryant guard Maddie Baxter in the back and ricocheted to Cayla McDowell. She got it to Carroll who took off the other way. Not to be denied, the senior guard drove to the rack and wound up with a three-point play that had the Lady Hornets back in front.
With 2:34 left, Alma’s Kaitlyn Jackson scored down low to tie the game 44-44. But that would proved to be the last field goal for the Airedalettes.
Both teams were unable to cash in on a pair of opportunities to snap the tie over the next minute. But when McDowell blocked a shot by Jackson, Otey rebounded and rushed to the other end. Though she couldn’t get her short jumper to fall, there was Carroll snatching down the rebound and scoring to put the Lady Hornets ahead to stay.
A free throw by Alma’s Abbye Ostrander with 1:00 left trimmed the lead to 46-45. The Airedalettes started to press but the Lady Hornets were able to get the ball up the floor and they started whittling on the clock.
With the defense scattered, trying to trap, Otey found a lane to the hoop and, with :23 left, was fouled. She calmly drained both free throws to make it a 3-point game.
Alma worked for a good look but the Lady Hornets would not allow it. With :06.3 left, Airedalettes coaches took a timeout to try to set up a play to get a good look at a 3.
But as soon as play resumed, Otey, as instructed by Bryant head coach Brad Matthews, fouled Hailey Ostrander to prevent a 3-point try. Ostrander converted both free throws but the Lady Hornets had the ball and the lead.
Otey pushed the lead to 50-47 with a pair of free throws with :04.4 to go. Alma then worked a nice play on a long run-out. Forward Kailey Fagan caught the ball behind the Bryant defense but couldn’t avoid traveling as the Lady Hornets’ recovered quickly.
Carroll’s free throws with :00.7 showing set the final score.
“I thought Alma played really well,” commented Matthews. “They played really hard. They did a good job on offense breaking our defense down. Obviously, we had too many defensive mistakes. We’d get up 6 or 8 and they’d cut it back down to 1 or 2.
“To our kids’ credit, when the game was on the line, two or three minutes to go, we were able to make plays down the stretch,” he noted. “I thought Lauren and Jakeria played really well, especially the last two or three minutes. We got some rebounds.
“We left a few points out there, free-throw wise, early on but I think, down the stretch, we hit them all and we were able to get a little separation,” the coach concluded. “It wasn’t the prettiest game but it’s mid-to-late February. We’ll take a win and move on. Now we get ready for one of the best teams in the state coming in Tuesday.”
Bryant hosts defending Class 7A champion Conway for Senior Night on Tuesday, Feb. 17.
The Lady Hornets opened Friday’s game with an 11-1 run that included a basket by Rachel Miller off an inbounds play as well as 3’s by Raija Todd and Otey.
Alma’s first field goal didn’t come until the 3:05 mark of the first quarter (4:55 in) when Cierra Rainwather got free inside. Carroll fed Otey for a layup and, after a drive for a deuce by Alma’s Bailey Jones, Otey bagged a 3 to make it 16-5.
But a layup by Abbye Ostrander and a 3 by Jones cut the margin to 6 at the end of the first quarter. Jackson added the first bucket of the second stanza and it was 16-12.
The Airedalettes had two chances to get closer before Carroll went to the line and sank a pair. Destiny Martin followed up with a drive up the baseline, pulling up for a jumper from 10 feet out to push it back to 20-12.
Alma cut it back to 2 but, by the end of the half, the Lady Hornets were back up 26-20. Otey drove for a layup with :04 left to complete the scoring.
In the third quarter, the lead went from 7 to 4 and back again. A 3-pointer by Jones had Alma within 35-31 with 1:51 left in the period but Bryant scored the next 6 points. Todd drove for a pull-up jay then Carroll drove and dished to set up a 3 by Otey, making it 40-31.
Rainwater’s free throw in the final seconds of the period, made it 40-32 but a free throw by Martin to start the fourth quarter had Bryant back up by 9. That’s when Alma began its rally, which was capped by 3’s from Jones and Rainwater.
LADY HORNETS 52, AIREDALETTES 47
Score by quarters
Alma 10 10 12 15 — 47
BRYANT 16 10 14 12 — 52
AIREDALETTES (10-14, 2-10) 47
Jones 7-12 0-0 17, H.Ostrander 2-9 2-2 6, Wright 0-9 3-4 3, Rainwater 3-7 1-3 8, Jackson 3-6 0-0 6, Dyer 0-0 0-0 0, Fagan 0-1 0-0 0, A.Ostrander 2-3 1-2 5, Tobler 0-0 2-2 2, Dunbar 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-47 (36%) 9-13 (69%) 47.
LADY HORNETS (14-10, 6-5) 52
Todd 3-6 0-0 7, Otey 8-18 12-14 31, Carroll 2-7 5-5 9, Baxter 0-4 0-2 0, Miller 1-1 0-0 2, Ridgell 0-2 0-3 0, McDowell 0-0 0-0 0, Martin 1-2 1-2 3, Rogers 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 15-41 (37%) 18-27 (67%) 52.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 4-12 (Otey 3-5, Todd 1-4, Baxter 0-1, Ridgell 0-1, Rogers 0-1), Alma 4-18 (Jones 3-7, Rainwater 1-2, H.Ostrander 0-4, Wright 0-4, A.Ostrander 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 12, Alma 14. Rebounds: Bryant 10-22 32 (Carroll 4-4 8, Baxter 3-2 5, Otey 1-3 4, Miller 1-3 4, McDowell 0-3 3, Ridgell 1-1 2, Todd 0-1 1, Rogers 0-1 1, team 0-4 4), Alma 10-21 31 (Rainwater 4-7 11, Jackson 1-5 6, Jones 1-3 4, Wright 2-2 4, H.Ostrander 1-1 2, Tobler 1-1 2, Fagan 0-1 1, A.Ostrander 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 14, Alma 20. Fouled out: Alma, H.Ostrander, Tobler.