CABOT — Chase Christie hit a free throw with 5.8 seconds left to play to provide the winning margin for the Bryant Blue Hornets of Bethel Middle School in their season opener Thursday.
The Hornets defeated Cabot South’s eighth grade boys, 36-35.[more]
Christie led the way with 13 points. Davis Nossaman added 12.
The game was close throughout. Bethel held a 9-8 edge after a quarter and was up 22-20 at the half. The Hornets maintained the lead, taking a 28-26 advantage into the final period.
"I was pleased with our intensity and defensive effort," commented Hornets coach Derek McGrew. "Cabot South was huge! They started four players over 6-feet. We only have one on our roster. But the boys showed tremendous teamwork and gave a gritty effort."
The Hornets return to action on Monday at 8 p.m., against Little Rock Episcopal at the Anthony School Classic in Little Rock.
On Tuesday, they take on the Anthony School at 5 and on Wednesday they play Arkansas Baptist at 6. The Classic concludes with consolation and championship games on Thursday.
The Bryant Blue Lady Hornets of Bethel Middle School traveled to Cabot South to play their first game of the season. The eighth grade team is coming off a 14-1 season but missing two starters from last year’s team so they we weren't really sure what to expect.
Cabot South got the win with a 30-15 victory but the Lady Hornets found that they still have a lot of potential for success.[more]
Leading scorer was Dezarea Duckworth with 7, Rori Whittaker 3, Erica Smith had 2 and Jessica Alliston had 2. Whittaker had 7 rebounds while Duckworth had 6.
“I was really encouraged with our eighth graders and their improvement from last season,” said coach Rhonda Hall. “They will continue to get better.”
The eighth grade will play in the Anthony tournament starting on Monday. At 7 p.m., the Lady Hornets will take on Arkansas Baptist. On Tuesday, they’ll play Little Rock Episcopal at 8 p.m., with a game against the Anthony School on Wednesday at 5. Consolation and championship games will be played on Thursday.
The seventh grade Bethel team was defeated by Cabot South 43-4.
“The Cabot team was probably the best we will see all season with a great height advantage,” Hall said.
Nicki Clay scored 2 and Allysa Sturgeon had 2.
The seventh grade will be in action again at Morrilton on Monday night.
Arkansas Finest, a seventh-grade boys basketball team featuring four players from Bryant recently won the Hoopfest USA State Championship in Hot Springs. Team members include, front from left, Justice Bryant of England, Hunter Holder of Bryant, Larry Stephens of Little Rock Christian, Trenton Deloach of Little Rock Episcopal and Caleb Strain of Bryant; back row, coach James Scoggins of Bryant, Luke Vincent of Benton, Blake Bowlin of Benton, Mitch Scoggins of Bryant, Samonte Wallace of Benton and Brian Reed of Bryant.
Bryant Lady Hornets junior Alana Morris earned all-State honors for the 2008-09 high school basketball season, it was announced Monday, March 30.
The Lady Hornets, who ended a three-year absence from the Class 7A State Tournament by finishing tied for second place in the 7A-Central Conference, also had all-conference honors go to seniors Anna Simpson and Taylor Hughes, along with junior Hannah Goshien.
In addition, Simpson was named to the all-State Tournament team.
And for the second year in a row, senior Tim Floyd was named all-conference for the Hornets.
The senior forward averaged 19 points and 8.1 rebounds a game for the Arkansas Tech Golden Sun and earlier this week was named one of five finalists from Region 5 for the 10-member WBCA Division II State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team. The 41 finalists were voted on by WBCA member coaches in each of the WBCA’s eight award regions.
“What a nice honor for Amanda Grappe,” Tech Women’s Basketball Coach Dave Wilbers said. “She had an outstanding season for our basketball team and had an outstanding career as a Golden Sun. She is truly one of the all-time greats that have played in this tradition-rich program.”
Grappe was named this year’s GSC West Division Player of the Year and was also named a three-time All-GSC West Division selection. She finished her Tech career as the program’s 10th all-time leading scorer (1,738 points) and the program’s fourth all-time leading rebounder (791 boards). In addition, she recorded 27 double-digit scoring games this season and had a team-best nine double-doubles and was named the GSC West Division Player of the Week three times. In her career, she had 94 career double-digit scoring efforts, 20 double-doubles and 29 games of scoring 20 or more points, including five career 30-plus point games.
Joining Grappe as Region 5 finalists are Delta State sophomore guard Sarita ‘Bug’ Cooper, West Georgia senior guard Dominic Cranford, the GSC East Division Player of the Year, West Georgia senior forward Ashley Huff and Nova Southeastern junior center Stephanie Sarosi.
By outscoring their opponents 672-298, an average score of 37-16, the Bryant Middle School eighth grade Lady Hornets basketball team ran through their 18-game 2008-09 season undefeated and, almost unchallenged.
The team, coached by DeAnna Ward with assistance from Angel Dale, included McKenzie Adams, Rochelle Aguillar, Lauren Buck, Amanda Butler, Lauren Coggins, Skylar Combs, Courtney Davidson, Logan Davis, Haley Everett, Shelby Gartrell, Jackie Hill, Sarah McPherson, Whitney Meyer, Kiara Moore, Hannah Raney, Hannah Rice, McKenzie Rice, Kristen Scarlett and Ashley Williams with managers Spencer Byars, Krissia Meeler and Shaunte Lee.
“This is the most talented group of girls that I have coached,” Ward stated. “If they keep working hard, I predict that they will be State Champs in four years.”[more]
Adams was the team’s leading scorer while Aguilar topped the team in rebounding. Moore led in assists. Gartrell and Davis had the highest shooting percentage on the team while Buck had the top free-throw percentage.
FORT SMITH — Yes, the Bryant Lady Hornets had the higher seed and a much better record but the Springdale Har-Ber Lady Wildcats had something valuable that the Lady Hornets did not:
State tournament experience.
The Lady Wildcats were making their third consecutive trip to State, meaning all four of their seniors and all eight of their juniors had been there and done that.
It was a first for every Lady Hornet.
And, as most coaches will tell you, it's one thing to get there, another to stay there.
Har-Ber, using a zone defense to frustrate Bryant's leading scorer Alana Morris then a box-and-one in the second half to shut down hot-handed Hannah Goshien, brought a bittersweet and premature end to the Lady Hornets' turnabout season, 61-52. The first round game was played Wednesday, March 4, at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith's Stubblefield Center.[more]
"It's new life for everyone that's here," noted Lady Hornets coach Blake Condley. "It's win or go home. Har-Ber did what they had to and we just didn't. You have to execute in this game or there is no next game."
Otherwise, the Lady Wildcats didn't have anything the Lady Hornets hadn't faced before. They were taller, as were most of Bryant's opponents this season. Normally, the Lady Hornets tried to hold their own on the boards against those teams and make up or surpass any deficit by forcing a bunch more turnovers than they committed.
And they forced 20 turnovers while committing just nine on Wednesday, but it wasn't enough to offset Har-Ber's 47-29 advantage on the boards including 18 rebounds on the offensive end. Add to that the fact that the Lady Hornets shot just 18 percent from the field in the second half and the story is told in the numbers.
Condley agreed his team just never quite got into its game. "A lot of that was lack of rebounding," he acknowledged. "We'd get them to take a shot, miss that shot and give up an offensive rebound. They'd put it back in or go to the free-throw line. Those rebounds are when we can get out and go the other way and try to get to the basket.
"On top of that, we weren't rotating well on the back of our press and we gave up some easy buckets," he added. "It's just hard to do that against a good team and be able to win. Of course, it doesn't help shooting 18 percent in the second half."
The Lady Hornets finish the season 19-7 after two straight losing campaigns. Though it wasn't quite a return to the glory days of Lady Hornets basketball (an incredibly high standard), it was a huge step back in that direction. And, with all but two players returning, the future looks even better.
Of course, the loss marked the end of the careers of seniors Anna Simpson and Taylor Hughes. Condley contemplated their impact, saying, "Like I told them in the locker room, there's no doubt there will be girls that will be up to the task of filling those shoes but they sure set the bar high as far as leaders and the way I want girls to handle themselves as part of this program. I just can't say enough about Taylor and Anna, what they mean to me and what they mean to this program. They've left some big shoes to fill. It's going to take somebody stepping up to be a big-time leader to fill them. I'm just so proud of them. Just watching them from the eighth grade all the way through, how they matured. Not only as basketball players but as young ladies, I just think the world of both of them."
And, if this is the beginning of a great run of Lady Hornets basketball, as it could well be, Simpson and Hughes will always know they were key components in the turnaround.
The Lady Hornets trailed by just 4 with :42 left after Har-Ber's Sabrina Westmoreland missed two free throws and Morris drove for a hoop. But, after that, the Lady Wildcats connected on 7 of 8 from the line to pad the lead. Bryant's only scoring during the last 40 seconds came on two free throws by Haley Montgomery.
Goshien led the Lady Hornets with 16 points but 14 of those came in the first half. Simpson added 15, Montgomery 10, Morris 6. Westmoreland and point guard Halee Castelman led Har-Ber with 18 each. Rachel Carlock added 11.
Westmoreland hit a 3 to start the game but Goshien answered in kind then made a steal and a layup. An offensive-rebound bucket by Kenzee Calley had Bryant up 7-3. Har-Ber rallied to tie but Simpson drilled a trey over the Lady Wildcats' zone to give Bryant the lead again.
The Lady Wildcats to a 12-10 lead before Montgomery drained a triple but Westmoreland hit a layup and Castleman hit two free throws so when Simpson hit a jumper from the corner to end the first-quarter scoring, Har-Ber held a 16-15 edge.
The game stayed close in the second period with the Lady Hornets adding four more 3's. Goshien popped one with 1:21 left to get Bryant back within a point then followed a missed free throw by Har-Ber's Taylor Murphy with another to put the Lady Hornets ahead again 29-27.
Bryant forced a turnover but was unable to extend the lead and Carlock got a stickback at the buzzer to tie it.
Bryant was 7 of 11 on 3-pointers in the first half, 0 for 8 in the second.
The Lady Hornets tried to be more aggressive offensively in the second half after attempting only two free throws to Har-Ber's 10 in the first half. Still, the Lady Wildcats led 34-31 before Hughes made a steal that led to a layup by Goshien, then another that led to a basket by Simpson, who hit the offensive glass to get the points, giving Bryant a 35-34 lead and causing Lady Wildcats' coach Sandy Wright to call a timeout.
The layup for Goshien was her only bucket of the second half as Har-Ber tracked her man-to-man while boxing up its other four defenders in a zone that cut off the driving lanes.
When play resumed, Murphy missed a 3 and the Lady Hornets responded with a tenacious trip on offense, claiming three offensive rebounds before Simpson drove for a layup and a 37-34 lead with 4:00 left in the period.
The Lady Hornets led 39-38 after a layup by Morris off a steal (for her first points of the game) and she followed with another steal. But Hughes couldn't get a 3 to go and Morris' follow rimmed out. At the other end, Westmoreland knocked down a 3 and Har-Ber was up for good.
Bryant had five chances to answer but couldn't get a shot to fall so when Castleman beat the buzzer off a dribble-drive, the Lady Wildcats led 43-31.
It was 45-39 when Bryant made one more surge. Simpson hit from the corner and, after a Har-Ber miss, Montgomery was fouled taking it at the basket. She converted once but, moments later, she made a steal and earned another trip to the line where she converted twice to cut the lead to 45-44 with 6:22 remaining.
The Lady Hornets had two chances to gain the lead but Simpson's shot wouldn't fall and, after Morris rebounded, a turnover cost them the second opportunity.
Har-Ber pushed the lead to 51-45 and started spreading the floor to eat time with 1:52 left. The lead was 54-48 with :56.9 showing, when Westmoreland went to line at the :49.5 mark, starting the final parade to the free-throw line.
LADY WILDCATS 61, LADY HORNETS 52
Score by quarters
Har-Ber16131418 — 61
BRYANT15141013 — 52
LADY WILDCATS (11-18) 61
Patterson2-82-24-4 8 56
LADY HORNETS (19-7) 52
Three-point field goals: Springdale Har-Ber 3-10 (Westmoreland 3-6, Murphy 0-2, Castleman 0-1, Jones 0-1), Bryant 7-19 (Goshien 4-6, Johnson 1-4, Montgomery 1-4, Simpson 1-1). Turnovers: Springdale Har-Ber 20, Bryant 9.
When asked what they thought it was going to be like to run out onto the floor at the Class 7A State Tournament at the Stubblefield Center at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith this Wednesday afternoon, the reaction was the same.
Both Taylor Hughes and Anna Simpson grinned.
You see, it’s been a long time coming for the duo, the only seniors on the Lady Hornets team this year. It’s something they’ve never done before.
“It’s going to be kind of cool,” Hughes said.
“I think it’s going to be a little scary,” Simpson replied. “It’s going to be so exciting. We have no idea. The last time I even went to a State game, I was like in eighth grade and my sister (Sydney) was a sophomore. I don’t know, just the whole atmosphere’s going to be — it’s going to be great just to know that you’re in there with the best. You’re not one of the teams stuck at home. You made it.”
And, indeed, this year they have made it.
The Lady Hornets, 19-6, will play the Springdale Har-Ber Lady Wildcats in Fort Smith at 4 p.m., on Wedesday, March 4. They are not only the No. 3 seed from the 7A-Central Conference, but they were in contention for a league championship all year and, actually finished in a tie for second.
All that after the team didn’t win a single conference game a season ago and, two years ago, when Hughes and Simpson were sophomores, winning just three league contest.
All of which makes this trip even sweeter.[more]
“It’s so exciting because I expected us to do better than last year but I’m not sure I ever — I wanted so bad for it to be this good but I’m not sure I ever really expected it to be this good,” Simpson declared. “I sit back and think, ‘Wow, we really made it that good, we really won that many games, we really did finish third in conference.’”
“It means a lot to both me and Anna because at the beginning of the season, we would come in with coach (Blake Condley) some days at lunch and do a leadership book,” Hughes added. “We’d always talk about how important it would be just to make the State tournament. We expected to do good but I don’t know . . . it’s just a cool feeling to actually be at the top of the conference.”
Said Condley, who moved up to the high school job from the junior high post at the same time Hughes, Simpson and their classmates did, “How hard we play, how we work together is a direct reflection of those two girls. That’s one of the things we talked about, if they wanted to be the leaders, no one should ever be able to come back and say they took a play off or they didn’t play hard or they didn’t practice hard. That’s something they took a lot of pride in. Anna and Taylor poured their heart and soul into making sure every day when they came to practice, they were leaving it out there.”
So what’s changed?
“I think, this year, we’re all playing as a team,” Hughes stated. “Everybody’s playing together. It’s not just one person that has to be the star. Anybody can have a good night and, if somebody is having a good night, everybody is selfless and they realize that that girl need to have the ball. It’s okay if they’re not the one with the ball.
“This year, everyone leaves their attitudes at home,” Simpson continued. “Everyone cares. If we have problems with each other, we leave it off the court or else we figure it out.
“I feel like our whole team’s been closer this year,” she added. “We’ve done things, team activities, that have helped us with bonding. We all hang out. We’re all pretty good friends. Aside from basketball, we still hang out and do things together. I don’t know how it couldn’t work if you’re out on the court with four of your best friends. I don’
t know how it couldn’t be good.
“It’s nice to come into the locker room and everyone’s smiling rather than having no one smile when they leave the gym. It’s nice to want to come in to practice and want towork hard and want to get better. We’re like, ‘Oh, we actually have a shot at winning, we actually have a shot at doing good this year.’”
And the coach lauds the leadership the duo has shown.
“It’s not been something that’s happened just with a snap of the fingers,” Condley asserted. “They’ve worked at it. We’ve talked about it. We’ve even done some leadership training. They’ve been totally open and receptive to everything I’ve wanted to talk to them about, for them to work on and to help their teammates with. Whatever they needed to do, however they could help, however they could make things be better and they’ve been 100 percent up for doing that.
“We talked about having no regrets,” he added, “not looking back and saying ‘I wish I’d have put more time in, I wish I’d have played harder. I think they’ll honestly be able to say that they have no regrets for this senior season. You want to see kids be successful. You want to see them reap the benefits of the work they’ve put into it.”
Both players have developed their games over the years. Hughes plays the point, Simpson’s a swing player working at shooting guard or small forward.
“Taylor sets the tone as far as the offensive and defensive pace of the game,” Condley observed. “She’s been with me for five years in junior high and high school and she knows how I want to push the ball up the floor. I don’t have to bring it up to her. She wants to do that as well. Defensively, she’s going to pressure, she’s going to be up, she’s going to try to trap, she’s going to do the things that we’ve tried to stress as a basketball team. She gets that started for us.
“This year I’m more confident in my shot,” Hughes said. “I don’t look to shoot as much as I look to drive and get another person a shot. I haven’t always been that confident in my shot.”
So where did her new-found confidence come from?
“Just shooting and knowing that if I don’t make it, it’s okay because if I don’t shoot it’s not going in but if I do there’s a chance it’ll go in,” she answered.
“Anna’s more the vocal leader,” Condley stated. “Whether it be encouragement or letting somebody know when they’re not doing what they need to be, she kind of fills in that role. They both lead in their own way.
“Anna, offensively, there are times that we need a spark, we need a bucket, we need something. She’s not afraid to say, ‘Hey, let me have the ball. Let me try to do it. I’ll try to make it happen.’”
“All I’ve always wanted to do was catch and drive, catch and drive,” Simpson related. “I’ve never had any confidence in my shot. I shot really bad, two-handed and all that. I guess just this year, I started shooting a little bit more and my shot’s gotten a lot better. I’ve got a lot more confidence in my shot and I guess that’s made me harder to guard. Whereas last year other teams looking at me, all they could say was, ‘All she does is drive.’ This year, I have something else where I’m not limited to just driving.”
When they came to the high school as sophomores, of course, Hughes and Simpson weren’t the only ones in their class, but they are the ones that persevered.
“They’ve been through some tough things over the last five years as far as losing games, losing teammates, having problems as far as chemistry and things,” Condley acknowledged. “They just put it in their minds that they didn’t want that to happen this year. They wanted to win games but, more importantly, they wanted the team to enjoy each other, they wanted to have a good senior season. We talked and we talked and we talked that if we could make that happen, winning and losing would take care of itself.
“You’ve got to have some things go your way to be able to win those games, but the most important thing is to enjoy each other, have good team chemistry, play well together and just see what happens. And they totally focused all their energy on doing that this year. They said 15 years from now they don’t think they’ll remember as much about what goes on on the court but they’ll sure remember about their relationships in the locker room.”
“I think it’s just our love for the game,” Hughes said regarding what kept them going. “There have been lots of rough times but we both knew that it was worth sticking them out. We were hoping that this would happen, that we’d make it to State and be one of the top teams in the conference.”
“We just love basketball,” Simpson agreed. “There’s people that asked me, ‘Are you sure you want to play your senior year?’ After three wins my sophomore year, I thought, ‘You know, it’s got to be better next year,’ but then it didn’t get any better at all. But, I guess it’s just that I know if I looked back and I hadn’t played, I would regret it so much. I’ve played basketball forever, so I just couldn’t. It’s just one more. I just don’t understand, I guess, quitting because I think you can handle it. I think most people that have quit will end up regretting that they did.”
So, is success everything you thought it would be?
The third through sixth grade basketball tournament was slated to end on Saturday, but double-elimination tournaments are never easy to predict. The tournament spilled over into Monday resulting in some down-to-the-wire action and some quality basketball.
Monday night’s early game was a 3rd/4th grade girls’ division matchup that pitted Team Rowland against Team Hill. Team Rowland wrapped up their season defeating Team Hill. Team Rowland had previously upset Team Hill's bid for an undefeated season on Saturday sending them on to the final elimination game on Monday night, and then handed Team Hill their second loss to take the tournament title.
Monday night’s second final was a rematch of the 5th/6th grade boys division Team Price and Team Hurt. The two squared off on Saturday where Team Price suffered its first defeat of the season losing to Team Hurt by a score of 51-50. Team Price switched strategy away from offense to a more defensive scheme playing mostly man-to-man against Team Hurt's high scoring offense. And that adjustment proved to be the winning move. Team Price won the game 40-33 and took the tournament championship. Team Price ended the season with a record of 15 wins versus 1 loss.[more]
Tournament play is all about which teams are peaking at the right time. The 5th/6th grade boys division came down to 3 teams with the 1st seeded Team Price, 2nd seeded Team Warner and 5th seeded Team Hurt. These 3 teams proved to be the hottest teams closing out the regular season and were destined to fight it out. And fight it out they did.
With the exception of the title game on Monday night, those three teams combined to play each other with the scoring ending in the 50's for each team. Most of those games were decided in the final minute of play. Team Hurt defeated Team Warner in the semi-final elimination game setting up a game Saturday night with undefeated Team Price. Team Hurt took that game by 1 point, forcing Monday night’s showdown.
The most competitive division in the league proved to be the 3rd/4th grade boys. As the regular season ended, the tournament appeared to be any one of the nine teams to win. In this tournament, the 4th seeded Team Sahr upset Team Chumley's undefeated regular season, defeating them on Saturday morning, sending Team Chumley to
the elimination bracket. The 2nd and 3rd seeded teams of Team Eley and Team Vail faced off Saturday morning with Team Eley winning that game to face Team Chumley in the semi-final elimination game. Team Chumley advanced in that game on Saturday afternoon to force a showdown with Team Sahr later in the day. But it was Team Sahr who defeated Team Chumley at 4:30 Saturday to take the tournament title.
Team Sahr ended the season with a record of 10 wins, 5 losses.
The 5th/6th grade girls division was a sweep for Team Patton throughout the year. Team Patton finished undefeated in League play and carried that winning tradition through the tournament. Team Patton finished the year at 15 wins with no losses.
Tommy Powell and Richard Chumley would like to say thank you to all the parents, coaches and players for their support and participation this year saying, “To all the coaches, we appreciate the time and energy volunteered the last 4 months that made this year such a success.”
Thursday night, Feb. 26, was the most exciting night yet of the third through sixth grade city league basketball tournament.
The night got off to a roaring start as Team Sandidge fought from behind to defeat Team Sanders 25-24 in the third/fourth grade boys division. It was Team Sander’s second loss, eliminating them from the tournament.
The other third/fourth grade boys game had another comeback bid. Team Pringle fought from behind all night trying to catch up to Team Dupree. But, in the end it fell just short with Team Dupree advancing with a score of 28-22, ending Team Pringle’s tournament.[more]
The final game of the night was a toe-to-toe slugfest between the No. 1 seed Team Price against the No. 2 seed Team Warner. Team Warner led by as many as 20 in the first half taking a 17-point lead into halftime. At halftime, Coach Les Price convinced his team that the game was far from over. As the third period began so did Team Price’s comeback. At the end of the third, the lead had been whittled from 17 to 4 with the period ending on an incredible full-court bank shot by Team Price’s Jason Hastings.
The two teams then traded punches for the remainder of the game. And with 1.7 seconds left, the game tied 48-48, Jordan Gentry sank two free throws that put Team Price on top.
Team Warner’s Brandon Warner led all scores with 28 in a losing effort.
Team Price will face the winner of Saturday’s 12 p.m. game between Team Hurt and Team Warner in the tournament finale at 6 p.m.
Games will continue Friday night and Saturday with the finals being held at 2:30 p.m. for the third/fourth grade girls, 3:30 for the fifth/sixth grade girls, 4:30 for the third/fourth grade boys and 6 for the fifth/sixth grade boys.