By Rob Patrick
VILONIA — Oftentimes, a full-court press is used by a team that wants to speed the game up, create turnovers and easy scoring opportunities.
But, sometimes, teams use a press to slow the game down and if it happens to make the opponent[more] want to speed up and make mistakes, all the better.The latter kind of press was employed by the Lady Eagles freshman team of Vilonia on Thursday night, while the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team utilized the former.
Both worked to force 19 turnovers apiece. When the Lady Eagles got past midcourt, they slowed it down for the most part and ran a patient passing game offense that not only made the Lady Hornets play more defense, it created some anxiety and sped them up on offense.
Vilonia led most of the way and by as much as 22-14 late. Bryant made a run at the end but fell short 23-20.
The Lady Hornets include Aubree Allen, Jessica Alliston, Andrea Buford, Ashlee Caton, Caylin Choate, Dezarea Duckworth, Kaitlyn Greer, Keedy Harrison, Taylor Matthews, Dee-Dee Mosby, Melinda Murdock, Amber Newman, Destiny Nichols, Brittany Privett, Erica Smith, Rori Whittaker and Alex Wright.
Bryant had a chance to tie the game at the end. Duckworth, who led the team with 9 points, had pulled the Lady Hornets within 23-20 with :25.7 showing. Vilonia turned the ball over against the press but Bryant missed twice but retained possession when the carom off the second try went out of bounds off a Vilonia player.
After a timeout by Bryant coach Nathan Castaldi, the Lady Hornets were unable to get a good look at a 3-pointer try. Vilonia forced a held ball and gained possession with :05.7 showing on the clock.
The Lady Eagles took two timeouts before inbounding the ball but they were ultimately able to do so as they held on for the win.
“Give them credit,” Castaldi said. “They did a good job of what they did. We didn’t execute at all. Whenever we got the ball past half-court, we usually did a decent job of getting the shot that we wanted but their pressure really, really hurt us tonight.”
The coach noted that the Lady Eagles used a variety of presses.
“That might’ve confused them,” he said of his team, “but if they were confused that’s my fault. The girls weren’t prepared like they should’ve been. I think we were. We just got in a hurry sometimes and instead of taking our time and seeing what they were in, sometimes we just kind of went and got ourselves in some trouble.”
The score at the end of the first quarter was 4-2, Bryant. Each team attempted six shots and committed five turnovers. McKenzie Morris put Vilonia on the board with 4:32 left in the quarter. Whittaker answered at the 3:58 mark then Smith’s basket was the only scoring the rest of the quarter.
The Lady Eagles took the upper hand at the start of the second quarter, sparked by point guard Audrey Moran who drilled a 3 then drove for a layup off a Bryant turnover. Jessica Stanley made it a 9-4 Vilonia lead before Castaldi called a timeout with 3:06 left in the half. To that point, the Lady Hornets had only been able to attempt one shot from the floor in the quarter.
A steal and basket by Vilonia’s Hannah Schnebelen followed the timeout. Bryant’s dry spell ended at the 2:23 mark when Duckworth hit a free throw. But the Lady Eagles wound up with a 14-5 lead at the half.
It was more of the same in the third quarter, which ended with Vilonia leading 18-11.
Buford scored for the Lady Hornets to start the fourth period but Morris scored twice around a free throw by Duckworth as the lead expanded to 22-14.
Allen hit a free throw to start Bryant’s comeback. Duckworth drove for a basket with :52 left to cut the lead to 22-17.
Catherine Lloyd hit a free throw for Vilonia with :33.9 showing before Duckworth’s three-point play cut the lead to 3.
The Lady Hornets, now 7-4, return to action in the first round of the Kameron Hale Invitational Tournament at Lake Hamilton on Wednesday, Dec. 29, against Malvern. The game will begin at 12:30 p.m.
VILONIA 23, BRYANT 20
Score by quarters
BRYANT 4 1 6 9 — 20
Vilonia 2 12 4 5 — 23
LADY HORNETS 20
Choate 1-2 0-0 2, Duckworth 3-8 3-5 9, Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Whittaker 1-7 0-0 2, Allen 1-5 1-4 3, Nichols0-2 0-0 0, Harrison 0-0 0-0 0, Greer 0-1 0-2 0, Buford1-1 0-0 2, Alliston 0-0 0-0 0, Newman 0-0 0-0 0, Murdock 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 8-27 4-11 20.
LADY EAGLES 23
Moran 2-10 1-2 6, Schnebelen 1-6 0-0 2, Morris 4-7 1-2 9, Martinez 1-2 0-0 2, Stanley 1-6 1-2 3, Lloyd 0-0 1-2 1, Mulligan 0-0 0-0 0, Clower 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-31 4-8 23.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 0-3 (Duckworth 0-2, Choate 0-1), Vilonia 1-4 (Moran 1-3, Schnebelen 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 24 (Duckworth 6, Allen 4), Vilonia 22 (Stanley 7). Turnovers: Bryant 19, Vilonia 19. Team fouls: Bryant 11, Vilonia 12.