With the Benton Lady Panthers eighth grade team focusing its defense on Austyn Oholendt, the leading scorer on the season for the Bryant White Lady Hornets eighth grade team, somebody had to step up and make some plays.
Aniston Sweet and Madison Loggins did just that by combining for 22 points to lead the Lady Hornets to a 34-21 win over their rivals.
Bryant White, which has lost six games this season to Covid issues on their team and on their opponents, improved to 6-3 on the season going into their final game at Cabot South on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
Sweet scored 14 points including four 3-pointers. Loggins added 8 points with Oholendt and Gralynn Baker scoring 5 apiece. Makenzie Kirkley scored 2.
With Aniston hitting back-to-back 3’s and a put-back by Loggins, the Lady Hornets dashed to a 16-3 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“They were keying on Austyn,” acknowledged Lady Hornets’ coach Ben Perry. “They were making it difficult for her to be open and productive on offense. Others had to step up and they did.
“I’ve been telling the team that everyone must contribute and be willing and able to be a scoring threat,” he related. “It wasn’t until this game, I believe, that others started to gain confidence in making offensive plays.”
Benton’s 3 points came on free throws. The Lady Panthers wound up shooting 17 from the charity stripe.
“We were undersized compared to Benton and due to some inexperience in some positions and lack of blocking out or moving our feet on defense, Benton was able to make 9 of their 21 points off free throws. We just didn’t block out and we were a little behind on that first step on defense.”
Meanwhile, the Lady Hornets were just 2 of 9 at the free-throw line.
“That’s just not being aggressive enough and getting to the foul line,” said Perry. “It’s just not a good position to be in, allowing another team 17 free-throw attempts and only getting to the line 7 times. We’ve got to be better disciplined on defense and learn how to position ourselves correctly.
“The girls are still learning where to position themselves on defense in regards to ball and man, but we are learning more and more with every game that we get to play,” he related. “We’ve found it difficult to find a rhythm this year with all the canceled games we’ve faced. It is a shame that they are finally working as a group towards the end of the year with only one game left.”
Bryant led 20-9 at the half and it was 27-12 going into the fourth quarter.
“Due to the foul trouble, we found ourselves allowing Benton to creep back into the game,” said Perry. “Benton had a good game plan coming in and they have a great coach who knows how to get the most out of any team.
“At times it felt that we were a little too quick to shoot on offense instead of working the ball around and being patient for an open shot,” he continued. “Aniston Sweet and Madison Loggins both had good offensive games. We were down another defensive threat last night with Brailey Kellum out, but the team rallied and pulled it out.
“We look forward to our last game against Cabot South this Thursday as long as the weather stays away.”