For more photos from this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
Thirty seconds into the second half, Ashton Inman drove and hit a pull-up jumper to give the Bryant Blue Lady Hornets eighth grade team of Bethel Middle School a 14-12 lead over the Russellville Lady Whirlwinds.
Unfortunately, the Lady Hornets were unable to score again until the 4:29 mark of the fourth quarter. In the interim, the Lady Whirlwinds put together a 12-0 run to gain the upper hand. And Bryant Blue never could completely recover as Russellville forged a 30-20 win at Bryant Middle School gym on Monday night.
Inman finished with 9 points to lead the Lady Hornets. Addison Funk added 5. Abbey Inman and Baylee Hutchison each hit a 3 along the way.
It was 3’s that helped Bethel to recover from an 8-1 deficit in the early going. Ashton Inman hit from long range to get a rally going. Sara Velazquez, who led Russellville with 15 points, countered with a three-point play but Ashton Inman drove for a laypup and, after the Lady Whirlwinds missed two free throws, Hutchison spotted up and drilling a triple to make it 11-9 going into the second quarter.
Funk hit a 3 to put the Lady Hornets ahead with 4:23 left in the half. At that point, it became a defensive tussle and neither team scored until the 1:13 mark when Russellville’s Hailey Walker grabbed a defensive rebound and was fouled. She made the first of her one-and-one opportunity but missed the second and the game went to the intermission knotted at 12.
Russellville had a chance to regain the advantage at the free-throw line early in the third quarter but came up empty so when Ashton Inman hit her driving jumper, the Lady Hornets were back on top.
A lob in to the Lady Whirlwinds’ tough post player, Mariah Ellis, produced the game-tying basket. The Lady Hornets had a chance to regain the upper hand but had their own empty trip to the line.
Russellville surged to a 22-14 lead by the end of the quarter then Ellis scored to start the fourth, giving the Lady Winds a 24-14 lead.
Funk broke the dry spell for Bryant with a baseline jumper. Walker countered with a bucket off the offensive boards but then Abbey Inman drained a 3 to cut it to 26-19.
Bethel coach Derek McGrew called a timeout to set up his team’s press but Russellville solved it for a Velazquez layup.
In the final seconds, she and Ashton Inman traded free throws to set the final score.
The game wrapped up the pre-holiday portion of the Lady Hornets’ schedule. They’ll return to action on Jan. 5, 2017 at The Anthony School in Little Rock.