File photo by Rick Nation
PEARCY — The Bryant Lady Hornets assignment to officially start the 2019-20 basketball season on Monday night was considerably different than the challenge presented by the E-STEM Lady Mets in their preseason benefit scrimmage last week.
In the Greenwood Lady Bulldogs, they faced a perennial powerhouse from Class 5A, a team that made it to the 5A State semifinals last season before losing to the eventual champion Little Rock Christian Lady Warriors. And Greenwood played them tougher than the eventual runner-up Jonesboro.
In the first round of the Lake Hamilton Classic, both the Lady Hornets and the Lady Bulldogs played some havoc-provoking defense. The two teams combined to force 50 turnovers. But Greenwood shot the ball better, particularly during a second quarter stretch in which its 20-15 lead turned into a 30-15 advantage, which the Lady Hornets were not able to overcome. Bryant would whittle the difference to as little as 11 points in the third quarter but wound up absorbing a 66-46 setback.
The Classic continues on Thursday with Bryant taking on Kirby at 5, followed by Greenwood and Lake Hamilton at 7:30 p.m.
“That’s why we come over here,” said Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews. “I told them we could’ve scheduled some people that we go and win by 20 or 25 but that doesn’t really help us when we get ready for Northside and Southside and North Little Rock and Conway and Cabot in our league.
“We’re trying to find those people early in the season that are going to show us — Greenwood played a lot of zone and traps; Kirby will play a more half-court kind of zone on Thursday and, hopefully, Lake Hamilton will play man (on Saturday),” he continued. “So, we’ll get a little bit of everything as we try to get more and more into our season. That way we can go back to practice and make sure we’re getting better.”
The game was tight early. A pair of baskets by McKenzie Muse off the offensive glass got the Lady Hornets going after Greenwood took a 5-0 lead off the bat. Later, Parris Atkins drained a 3 and her older sister India Atkins scored inside to trim the margin to 10-9.
But Greenwood never relinquished the lead. Haven Clements hit a pair of free throws then Kinley Fisher drilled a 3-pointer.
Still, Muse added a pair of free throws and, off a steal, Tierra Trotter hit a layup that had Bryant within 15-13 going into the final seconds of the opening quarter. India Atkins made a steal but could not get her shot to go at the other end.
So, when Greenwood’s Ally Sockey hit a 3, it was 18-13 going into the second period.
Sockey and Trotter traded hoops to star the new quarter but that’s when Bryant’s drought began. The 10-0 run by Greenwood started with back-to-back buckets by Shea Goodwin and ended with back-to-back baskets by Fisher.
Fisher wound up with a game-high 20 points. Sockey added 17 off the bench and Jaelin Glass had 11.
For Bryant, Trotter led with 15 points. Parris Atkins had 9 points to go with a game-high 10 rebounds. Muse finished with 8 and six.
The Lady Hornets, however, converted on just 13 of 54 shots from the field, a 24-percent clip. Greenwood shot 44 percent from the field (22 of 50) and 89 percent at the free-throw line (16 of 18). The Lady Bulldogs combined to hit six 3’s, twice as many as Bryant.
“We were trying to force some pressure, create some turnovers, and they handled it,” Matthews said of the second-quarter difference. “They had a couple of 3’s and there was a period where we weren’t scoring. Some of that was decision making, some of that was turnovers. Then, when we did execute, we just missed some shots. That’s going to happen.
“You know when you play Greenwood, they’re going to shoot a lot of 3’s,” he noted. “They’re going to keep coming at you. We knew that and there were periods of time we executed pretty well, got some good looks. Then there were other times when we kind of became not as aggressive.
“We have to be aggressive and we have to be aggressive on both ends,” the coach asserted. “And we have to combine being aggressive with good decision making and finishing. Tonight, we didn’t finish around the bucket very good, didn’t get to the bucket as much as we need to.”
Two free throws by Parris Atkins ended the Lady Hornets’ dry spell in the second. Maggie Rozell got free for a layup for Greenwood but Mady Scifres countered with a triple for Bryant. And when Parris Atkins followed her own miss to score with :12 left in the half, Bryant had the lead down to 10. But free throws by Greenwood’s Megan Gray with :04.3 on the clock pushed the margin back to 12 at the break.
The Lady Bulldogs led 41-26 just under four minutes into the second half. Trotter converted a pair of free throws and, off a Greenwood turnover, she got to the line again and cut the lead to 41-30.
Fisher responded with a 3 then Sockey scored the last 8 points of the quarter including two treys. The lead had ballooned to 52-30 going into the final stanza.
A bit of a run by Bryant cut the margin to 14. Free throws by Trotter and Ivory Russ got it starter. Celena Martin made a steal that led to a 3 by Trotter. Russ tacked on another free throw then, off a turnover, Trotter drove for a layup to make it 54-40 with 5:14 left to play.
Free throws by Fisher and Glass pushed the lead out again, however, and the Lady Hornets were unable to get the difference back to as little as 14 the rest of the way.
LADY BULLDOGS 66, LADY HORNETS 46
Score by quarters
Greenwood 18 16 18 14 — 66
BRYANT 13 9 8 16 — 46
LADY BULLDOGS (2-0) 66
Clements 3-5 2-4 8, Terry 0-4 0-0 0, Glass 3-6 4-4 11, Fisher 7-13 4-4 20, Goodwin 2-4 0-0 4, Cartwright 0-3 2-2 2, Sockey 6-10 2-2 17, Gray 0-1 2-2 2, Summitt 0-0 0-0 0, Rozell 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 22-50 (44%) 16-18 (89%) 66.
LADY HORNETS (0-1) 46
Trotter 4-16 6-8 15, P.Atkins 2-16 4-4 9, I.Atkins2-6 0-1 4, Martin 1-6 2-3 4, Muse 3-4 2-2 8, Le.Taylor 0-2 0-0 0, Russ 0-1 3-6 3, Scifres 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 13-54 (24%) 17-24 (71%) 46.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-20 (Trotter 1-7, P.Atkins 1-7, Scifres 1-3, I.Atkins 0-1, Martin 0-1, Taylor 0-1), Greenwood 6-19 (Sockey 3-6, Fisher 2-6, Glass 1-2, Cartwright 0-2, Rozell 0-2, Gray 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 29, Greenwood 26. Rebounds: Bryant 19-18 27 (P.Atkins 5-5 10, I.Atkins 3-6 9, Muse 4-2 6, Trotter 2-2 4, Russ 2-2 4, Martin 2-0 2, Le.Taylor 1-0 1, team 0-1 1), Greenwood 11-23 34 (Goodwin 0-5 5, Clements 1-4 5, Glass 4-1 5, Terry 0-4 4, Cartwright 2-2 4, Sockey 1-3 4, Fisher 0-2 2, Rozell 1-0 1, team 2-2 4). Team fouls: Bryant 17, Greenwood 21. Fouled out: Greenwood, Clements.