It was fitting that the Bryant White Lady Hornets and the Russellville Lady Whirlwinds eighth grade teams battled into overtime at the Bryant Middle School gym Tuesday night.
The teams were so evenly matched. At the end, Bryant held a 28-27 edge on the boards and the Lady Hornets committed 13 turnovers to 14 by the Lady Whirlwinds.
The game was tied 24-24 at the end of regulation.
In the extra period, neither team allowed the other to hit a field goal but Russellville converted four free throws to escape with a 28-24 win.
Bryant White led 7-6 after a quarter but Russellville gained the upper hand, 13-10, by halftime. The Lady Whirlwinds held an 18-15 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
“It was a very hard-played game by both sides,” said Lady Hornets coach Ben Perry. “We had a bad second quarter which caused us to play catch-up in the fourth quarter. Luckily, we rallied to tie the game.
“Our game against Sheridan in which we didn’t foul at the end to get a chance for free throws to rebound and tie it helped us,” he noted, referring to a 33-30 loss on Jan. 3.
“We found ourselves down by 3 with about 1:30 left,” the coach continued about the Russellville game. “We had to start fouling quickly in order to give ourselves a chance to tie if we couldn’t get the steal. We fouled and, unfortunately, they made 4 of 5 free throws in the last couple of minutes.
“Fortunately, we rallied and got within 2 with only 16 seconds left,” he continued. “I called timeout and we set up a play to either tie or go ahead by 1. We inbounded the ball and were able to go with the option to tie the game to go into overtime.”
Kaitlyn Weng and Lauryn Taylor each scored 6 points in the game for Bryant White. Jaiyah Jackson had 5, Devine Robinson 3 with Kristyn Weng and Lexi Rose scoring 2 each.
“Unfortunately, we were just unable to score in overtime but we were able to hold the other team without a field goal,” Perry said. “We fouled them on a field goal which sent them to the line. They made both free throws which got us down by 2.
“It was another learning situation and even though we had time to work it around for a 2-pointer, we began throwing up 3’s instead, despite encouragement to settle down and be patient,” he related. “I believe that goes to game time situations that we all learn from.”
Down 2 with less than 15 seconds left, the Lady Hornets fouled in hopes of getting another shot at tying it or taking the lead but Russellville converted twice to set the final score.
“It was a very good game,” Perry said. “Russelville is a great team and has a remarkable post player. I was proud of the way our girls played and even prouder how they rallied in the fourth quarter with 9 points giving us a chance to win or tie. They have learned much this season and each week I see them improving.
“We get a chance to play Russelville again towards the end of the season so it should be a great rematch,” he mentioned.
The Lady Hornets also played a B game with Russellville, which won 7-2. Rose had Bryant White’s only points.
“B games are also a great learning experience and nice to give an opportunity for others to gain experience and show what they have learned and are able to contribute,“ said Perry.
The Lady Hornets return to action on Monday, Jan. 23, at North Little Rock.