PEARCY — Three-point shooting had been a struggle for the Bryant Lady Hornets on Thursday night at the Lake Hamilton Classic. In 13 first-half attempts from distance, their lone make came from sophomore Parris Atkins late in the first quarter.
And that was no small thing because it put the Lady Hornets ahead of the previously unbeaten Kirby Lady Trojans for good.
Even though the cold shooting from 3-point range continued, the Lady Hornets were able to extend their lead to double digits.
Kirby, however, whittled on that margin and, with 1:24 left in the third quarter, trailed just 32-27.
That’s when senior Mady Scifres found the range and, moments later, off a kick-out pass from teammate India Atkins, Lexie Taylor connected.
The lid was off the bucket. Taylor went on to add three more triples during the fourth quarter that helped the Lady Hornets pull away at the end, coming away with a 61-39 victory. It was Kirby’s first loss in nine games this season.
“They beat a very, very good Lake Hamilton team on Monday and really led the entire game,” noted Lady Hornets coach Brad Matthews, whose team picked up its first official win of the season. “So, they’re a really good team. In girls’ basketball, Class A, AA, AAA — it doesn’t matter. Kirby is historically really good. They have a great tradition. And I knew coming over here, we would have our hands full.”
But the Lady Hornets forced 24 turnovers, though Kirby finished with a 33-29 rebounding edge.
“We were able to turn them over, get out in transition,” Matthews acknowledged. “For game three of the year, we’ve got to clean up some transition — we left some points out there. We work on that a lot. We want to play in transition. We have to be — not just good at it, we have to be great at scoring in transition.
“Against E-STEM, which was bigger than we were, and Greenwood, we out-rebounded them,” he mentioned. “With our size, that was a concern. It’s always going to be a concern. But the first two games, we had really out-rebounded them.
“Tonight, that wasn’t the case,” the coach said. “We’ll have to go back to the film and see if it was not blocking out, which, obviously, was an issue or whether it was staring at the ball and hoping somebody else would get it. There’s a lot of things that lead to a lack of rebounding. That’s why we film games and try to make sure we get better as coaches and we get better as players.”
Parris Atkins finished with 18 points and eight rebounds for Bryant. Her older sister India Atkins added 10 points. Taylor finished with 12 and Celena Martin had 7.
Six-foot junior post McKenzie Jones led Kirby with 16 points and seven boards. Gracie Davis scored 12 to go with 10 caroms.
The Lady Hornets broke out to an 8-1 lead to start the game. Four different players had baskets, Martin, McKenzie Muse, and both Atkins.
Davis hit a 3 to break the ice for the Lady Trojans. She followed up with an offensive-rebound bucket and another 3 that had Kirby ahead 9-8.
After a timeout by Matthews, Parris Atkins hit her 3. India Atkins followed with a pair of free throws. Lyndsie Golden converted a pair at the line with :10.7 on the clock to make it 13-11 going into the second quarter.
Neither team got much in the second quarter. Kirby managed to get within 2 points, 19-17, and had a chance to tie or take the lead. But Martin made a steal and a layup to make it 21-17 at the break.
By scoring the first 8 points of the second half, the Lady Hornets pushed the lead back to double digits. Martin had a three-point play off a steal and, a little later, Parris Atkins canned her second trey and the Bryant lead was back to double digits, 29-17.
That’s when Kirby surged to get within 5. With momentum apparently on Kirby’s side and just 1:15 left in the third quarter, Scifres buried her 3.
Taylor hit one at the end of the third quarter and another to start the fourth off a kick-out feed from McKenzie Muse.
“There’s a lot of kids we trust,” said Matthews. “Mady made one then Lexie got hot and that led to that little pull away there towards the end.
“We trust Lexie,” he added. “We trust Mady. Tierra has really been shooting the ball well in practice. Between her and McKenzie, it’s just a matter of time before we can put three or four kids out there that can really shoot the 3.
“That’ll come, the coach added. “It’s early in the year. Being comfortable and in rhythm is really important. That’s something that we believe can be a strength as we move forward.”
The Lady Trojans whittled the margin to 9 then Taylor, off a feed from Trotter splashed yet another troika.
That sparked a run that built the lead to its apex at the end.
“We were able to keep forcing it, keep forcing turnovers,” Matthews said. “I’m proud of our kids’ effort. They played hard, kept going at them, kept attacking. It was a good win against a good team. Yet, we’ve got to go back tomorrow and get ready for a good Lake Hamilton team on Saturday.”
That game will be played at 12:30 p.m., to wrap up the Classic.
LADY HORNETS 60, LADY TROJANS 39
Score by quarter
BRYANT 13 8 17 22 — 60
Kirby 11 6 12 10 — 39
LADY HORNETS (1-1) 60
Trotter 2-9 0-2 4, P.Atkins 6-12 4-4 18, I.Atkins 1-4 8-10 10, Martin 3-7 1-1 7, Muse 1-5 0-0 2, Russ 1-3 0-0 2, Taylor 4-7 0-0 12, Scifres 1-2 0-0 3, Kr.Weng 0-0 0-0 0, Greer 0-0 0-2 0, Baker 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-50 (40%) 13-19 (68%) 60.
LADY TROJANS (8-1) 39
Harmon 0-4 1-2 1, Mount 0-2 0-0 0, M.Jones 6-12 4-6 16, Dougan 2-4 3-4 7, Davis 5-9 0-0 12, Golden 0-1 3-4 3, Strasner 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 0-2 0, G.Davis 0-3 0-0 0, Brewer 0-1 0-0 0, Cogburn 0-1 0-0 0, Pate 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-38 (34%) 11-19 (58%) 39.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 7-26 (Taylor 4-7, P.Atkins 2-5, Scifres 1-1, Trotter 0-4, Muse 0-4, Martin 0-3, I.Atkins 0-2), Kirby 2-12 (Davis 2-6, Harmon 0-2, Mount 0-1, Dougan 0-1, Strasner 0-1, Brewer 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Kirby 24. Rebounds: Bryant 11-18 29 (P.Atkins 4-4 8, Trotter 0-4 4, Muse 1-3 4, Martin 2-1 3, Russ 2-0 2, Taylor 0-2 2, Scifres 0-2 2, I.Atkins 1-0 1, Greer 0-1 1, team 1-1 2), Kirby 11-22 33 (Davis 3-7 10, M.Jones 4-3 7, Harmon 0-4 4, Mount 0-3 3, Dougan 3-0 3, Golden 0-1 1, Strasner 0-1 1, Johnson 0-1 1, G.Davis 1-0 1, Pate 0-1 1, team 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 16, Kirby 15.