CONWAY — Here’s the very definition of frustration:
The Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team forced 14 turnovers in the first half Monday night against the Conway Blue Lady Wampus Cats at Buzz Bolding Arena, but they only scored 11 points.
The lid was on the basket.
McKenzie Muse hit a 3-pointer off a drive-and-kick feed from Celena Martin with 5:08 left in the third quarter, giving the Lady Hornets an 11-6 lead. Bryant didn’t score again until the fourth quarter.
It was too much to overcome, though they made a last push. Conway Blue held on for a 26-21 win in Central Arkansas Junior High Conference play.
It was the second loss in a row for the Lady Hornets who had won their first six games this season. They’ll try to get back on track on Thursday at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock.
During the Lady Hornets’ dryspell, Conway Blue went on a 14-0 run. Ivory Russ drove for a basket to break the drought at the start of the fourth quarter but the Lady Cats scored the next two baskets to extend the run to 18-2 and the lead to 24-13.
Though they continued to miss some opportunities — they were 3 of 8 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter — the Lady Hornets rallied as Russ, Lexi Taylor, Maddie Scifres, Kinley Oholendt and Jada Deaton, all playing off the bench, scramble to get within 24-18 with a minute left. They had two chances to get closer when Conway Blue’s Lydia York missed two free throws with :47.4 left but a turnover undermined the first try then a missed shot foiled the second.
York hit a layup in the closing seconds before Taylor beat the buzzer with a 3 that made it a 5-point difference in the end.
“They continued to fight and that’s one thing we’ve talked about that we need to keep doing,” said Bryant coach Nathan Castaldi. “You can’t just lay down. I was proud of the effort that we gave at the end.”
Bryant led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter but it could’ve been much worse on the Lady Cats. The game opened with a steal by Bryant’s Tierra Trotter but a missed shot, an offensive rebound and a turnover followed. Conway Blue’s Jada Pickens cashed in on the other end.
Bryant got the ball inside to Mekeycia Baker on the next trip down and she tied it. Another Trotter theft followed but the Lady Hornets turned it back over to Conway Blue.
It went back and forth. Conway Blue turned it over and this time, Martin crashed the offensive boards for a bucket to make it 4-2 and force a Conway Blue turnover.
When play resumed, the Lady Hornets forced a held ball and earned possession only to turn it back over. Bryant’s Tyianna Robinson countered with a steal but her contested layup refused to go.
York hit a free throw to make it 4-3. After a Bryant miss, Trotter made yet another theft and drove for a layup. The Lady Cats missed twice and Baker scored inside to make it 8-3 with 1:50 left in the quarter.
Martin’s steal went for naught as the Lady Hornets missed. Pickens hit a free throw but Bryant missed a 3. Muse blocked a shot by Pickens but, at the other end, another 3 rimmed out just before the end of the period.
A charge/block call didn’t go Bryant’s way on a drive by Russ to start the second quarter and Pickens netted a pull-up jumper. That led to Muse’s 3.
The Lady Hornets didn’t get back on defense and Conway’s Summer Sargent got behind them for a layup and Castaldi called a timeout with 4:03 left in the half.
A flurry of turnovers followed and, with 2:44 left in the half, Conway Blue picked up its first team foul of the game. The teams exchanged turnovers again and Martin earned a trip to the free-throw line only to come up empty.
Trotter and Muse combined on a steal but Robinson was hammered on a drive to the bucket with no call. She was down for a while beside the basket support as play continued. Fortunately, once there was a pause, she was attended to and was able to come back in to play later.
Conway Blue’s Olivia Kilgore scored off the offensive glass with :07 left and Bryant’s lead was 11-10 at the break.
“We don’t make shots and I think that kind of effects our defense,” Castaldi said. “We take our struggles offensively down to the defensive end instead of playing with that same intensity. We miss a couple of shots and we go down to the defensive end and we don’t get up and pressure, we don’t get into the passing lanes and that makes it even harder for us.”
Conway Blue cut down their turnovers in the second half and, using a 3-2 zone, continued to frustrate the Lady Hornets who were unable to score in the third quarter, going 0 for 6 from the field and getting out-rebounded 5-2. The Lady Cats, converted 4 of 5 shots in the period and both of their free throws.
“We were just very passive against it,” Castaldi said of the zone. “We kind of let them dictate the tempo and where we were going with the basketball instead of attacking some gaps and looking to take what they gave us. That’s one thing we’re going to continue to work on.”
LADY WAMPUS CATS 26, LADY HORNETS 21
Score by quarters
BRYANT 8 3 0 10 — 21
Conway Blue 4 6 10 6 — 26
LADY HORNETS 21
T.Trotter 1-7 0-0 2, Martin 1-3 0-2 2, Baker 2-4 0-0 4, Robinson 0-5 0-0 0, Muse 1-4 0-0 3, Taylor 1-6 0-1 3, Russ 2-5 1-4 5, Scifres 0-0 0-0 0, Oholendt 0-1 2-2 2, Deaton 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 8-35 3-10 21.
LADY WAMPUS CATS 26
Pickens 2-9 1-2 5, Kyle 1-2 0-0 3, Kilgore 2-3 0-0 4, York 1-2 1-4 3, McMillan 3-4 0-0 7, Turner 1-2 0-0 2, Sargent 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 11-24 2-6 26.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-10 (Taylor 1-3, Muse 1-2, T.Trotter 0-5), Conway Blue 2-2 (Kyle 1-1, McMillan 1-1). Turnovers: Bryant 17, Conway Blue 24. Rebounds: Bryant 12-9 21 (Muse 2-2 4, Baker 2-2 4, Oholendt 2-2 4, Martin 2-0 2, Russ 1-1 2, Deaton 1-1 2, T.Trotter 1-0 1, Taylor 0-1 1, team 1-0 1), Conway Blue 5-20 25 (Pickens 1-4 5, Kilgore 2-3 5, Turner 0-5 5, Kyle 0-4 4, York 2-2 4, McMillan 0-2 2). Team fouls: Bryant 9, Conway Blue 8.