Van Buren rides hot hand in second half to win over Lady Hornets

File photo by Rick Nation

VAN BUREN — A week earlier, the Van Buren Pointerettes had dropped 12 3-pointers on the Alma Airedalettes to open 7A/6A-Central Conference play so when the Bryant Lady Hornets visited Clair Bates Athletic Arena on Friday night, they knew they’d have to keep close defensively on the perimeter.

And the Lady Hornets wound up holding Van Buren to just five 3’s but the Pointerettes did a good job of adjusting, putting it on the floor and driving to get some open looks on kick-outs.

Meanwhile, Bryant struggled to score, shooting under 30 percent for the second game in a row. Though they got by with that in a win over Mount St. Mary Academy on Tuesday, it proved too much to overcome in a 51-37 loss to Van Buren.

“We did not have a very good night offensively,” acknowledged Bryant coach Brad Matthews. “We didn’t execute very well at times. And when we did execute, we didn’t finish. We’ve got to go back and work on that.

“We’ve just got to get our kids relaxed,” he added. “We have some good offensive players. We’ve just got to get our players playing. It’ll happen. I have confidence in our kids.”

Indeed, the Lady Hornets have scored over 50 points in five games this year including 57 against one of the top teams in the state, Little Rock Hall.

“Tonight was just not a very good night offensively,” Matthews reiterated. “We’ve got to come back Tuesday against a very talented Russellville team and just have a better offensive night. When you have a better night on offense, everything else seems to pick up. We’ll put this one behind us, tough road loss.”

The Lady Hornets are now 9-7 overall, 1-2 in conference play and 1-1 against Class 7A teams, the games that count towards qualifying for the State tournament. Bryant hosts Russellville then finish their three-week “canine” tour on Friday. (They played at Greenwood against the Lady Bulldogs on Friday, Jan. 9, before visiting the Pointerettes. They’ll travel to Alma to take on the Airedalettes next Friday.)

Neither team shot well at the start of the game. Van Buren went 0 for 5 from 3-point range in the first quarter. Bryant managed a 5-4 lead going into the second quarter on a 3 by freshman Raija Todd who later hit a jumper from the corner off a feed from Maddie Baxter.

The Pointerettes started the second quarter with a 10-0 run that featured 3’s from Lani Snowden and Kaylee Sheppard.

“Obviously, we wanted to run them off the line as much as we could and, for the most part, we did that,” Matthews commented. “But when we didn’t, they made us pay. They’ve got good players and Coach (Chris) Bryant does a good job.”

Todd drained a triple to get the Lady Hornets going. Emily Ridgell made a steal and drove for a layup to cut it to 14-10.

Van Buren used a sagging man-to-man defense, trying to keep Bryant from getting penetration. And they frustrated those efforts for the most part. The Pointerettes led 18-11 in the final minute but Bryant’s Lauren Carroll rushed the ball up the floor and got to rack before Van Buren’s defense was set. She got fouled and converted one of her free throws. She followed up with a steal and layup to make it 18-14 at the half.

Van Buren would more than double that output in the third quarter, drilling three more treys. Freshman Jamilyn Kinney, Sheppard and Halie Jennen each connected with Jennen’s coming at the buzzer ending the quarter.

The Lady Hornets kept pace for a while as they nearly doubled their point total but the quarter ended with Van Buren up 37-26.

“I thought, defensively, we had some breakdowns in the third quarter that we had avoided,” Matthews mentioned. “They’re a really good offensive team but I thought the first half we avoided some breakdowns. The third quarter, we had a handful and those led to 10, 12 points. They made us pay.”

Jennen’s 3 sparked an 11-0 run that put the Pointerettes in the driver’s seat. After Carroll hit two free throws with 1:35 left in the third quarter, it was 4:26 into the fourth before Bryant scored again on a 3 by Baxter that cut into Van Buren’s 45-26 lead.

The Lady Hornets whittled it to 13 on baskets by Todd and Jakeria Otey plus a free throw by Ridgell but they could get no closer as Snowden and Kinney converted free throws in the final minute.

POINTERETTES 51, LADY HORNETS 37

Score by quarters

BRYANT          5          9          12       11 — 37

Van Buren      4          14       19       14 — 51

LADY HORNETS (9-7, 1-2) 37

Otey 4-15 0-0 8, Carroll 3-11 4-6 10, Baxter 1-4 0-0 3, Todd 4-11 0-0 10, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Ridgell 2-5 1-2 5, Martin 0-0 1-2 1, McDowell 0-0 0-0 0, Rogers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-50 (28%) 6-10 (60%) 37.

POINTERETTES (9-7, 2-1) 51

Sheppard 4-5 0-0 10, Snowden 3-4 2-2 9, Kinney 2-6 4-4 9, Goodwin 3-13 0-0 6, Jennen 2-5 0-0 5, Glassco 2-3 0-0 4, Sutton 1-2 4-4 6, Jones 1-3 0-1 2. Totals 18-41 (44%) 10-11 (91%) 51.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-20 (Todd 2-3, Baxter 1-4, Otey 0-9, Carroll 0-2, Ridgell 0-2), Van Buren 5-13 (Sheppard 2-3, Kinney 1-4, Snowden 1-2, Jennen 1-2, Goodwin 0-1, Jones 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 6, Van Buren 9. Rebounds: Bryant 12-15 27 (Otey 4-4 8, Baxter 2-4 6, Carroll 3-2 5, Martin 3-1 4, Todd 0-2 2, Ridgell 0-1 1, team 0-1 1), Van Buren 6-25 31 (Jennen 2-10 12, Kinney 0-7 7, Goodwin 2-4 6, Sheppard 0-1 1, Snowden 0-1 1, Glassco 0-1 1, Sutton 0-1 1, team 2-0 2). Team fouls: Bryant 13, Van Buren 9. Fouled out: Bryant, Martin; Van Buren, Goodwin.

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