Veteran Lady Cats ride second-quarter run to win over Bryant

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — It’s actually saying something when it’s easy to forget that four of the five starters for the Bryant Lady Hornets are playing their first season of varsity high school basketball. They are sophomores Natalie Edmonson, Lauren Lain and Emileigh Muse plus freshman point guard Brilynn Findley.

It’s easy to forget because none of them have been overwhelmed or appeared to be intimidated.

And the fact is, every game, regardless of the outcome, is valuable to the Lady Hornets if for no other reason than the experience gained.

On Tuesday, a week after hosting the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats, the Lady Hornets visited North Little Rock. The Lady Cats are just the opposite. Their four top players have been through the wars, juniors Destine Duckworth and Amauri Williams that played as sophomores last season and seniors Arin Freeman and Kalina Foster who played as juniors.

Despite that, the Lady Hornets were right with the Lady Cats at the end of the first quarter. A 3-pointer by Muse off an assist from Findley with 1:07 left in the quarter, had Bryant within 12-10.

But Duckworth hit the offensive glass for a basket then Freeman added two free throws with :05 left to make it 16-10.

Bryant’s lone starter with much experience Parris Atkins scored to start the second quarter but then the Lady Hornets went cold and the Lady Cats loosened up with a 18-0 run that put them in position to forge a 63-41 victory.

“The second quarter got us,” acknowledged Lady Hornets coach Brad Matthews. “You know, we’re hanging in there. We’re fighting our guts out in the first quarter. It was 16-10 and I felt like we kept them under control a lot. 

“The second quarter, we gave up some offensive rebounds,” he noted. “When they start scoring easy baskets, it just loosens them up so much, they start draining 3’s. And they’re really good at that.

“The last time, we turned it over a lot, and it led to transition,” the coach noted. “Tonight, their rebounds killed us. We’ve just got to get tougher on the boards. You’ve got to figure out how to fight and claw and scrap to get it done.”

Of North Little Rock’s 45 rebounds, 19 were on the offensive end. Duckworth had 11 and Williams eight. Though the Lady Cats attempted 29 shots from 3-point range, they only made six, four of them by Foster, who led the team with 14 points. 

Duckworth had 12 points, Williams and Freeman 8 each.

Bryant attempted 29 shots from 3-point land as well but made just three. That was indicative of the shooting for the Lady Hornets. They were successful on just 26 percent of their 61 attempts.

Atkins finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Muse had 12 points and nine boards.

“I thought Parris and Muse played really, really well tonight,” Matthews said.

Muse ended the Lady Hornets’ second-quarter drought with a 15-foot jumper with :29 left in the half. Garin Freeman hit a free throw for the Lady Cats, who took a 36-14 lead into intermission.

North Little Rock’s biggest lead was 50-18 during the third quarter, on the heels of back-to-back 3’s by Foster.

But an offensive rebound and basket by Lauryn Taylor sparked the Lady Hornets. Atkins scored 6 points at the end of the quarter to make it 51-26 going into the fourth.

Bryant whittled the lead to 22 but could never get any closer. The two teams played even 27-27 in the second half.

“We kept fighting the whole game,” Matthews mentioned. “We didn’t lay down and that’s good. That’s a good sign as we go forward. Losing’s not good. But we’ve got to learn from it. We’ve got to fix mistakes but it’s a good sign that we’re continuing to fight.”

The Lady Hornets host another of the top teams in the 6A-Central Conference on Friday with Conway.


Score by quarters

BRYANT           10        4          12        18 — 41

No.Little Rock 16        20        15        12 — 63

LADY HORNETS (8-5, 1-3) 41

Lain 0-3 0-0 0, Atkins 4-15 5-11 13, Edmonson 2-9 0-0 6, Findley 2-5 0-0 4, Muse 5-20 1-2 12, Taylor 2-3 0-0 4, Knight 1-6 0-0 2. Totals 16-61 (26%) 6-13 (46%) 41.

LADY CATS (12-5, 5-2) 63

Hicks 0-3 0-0 0, A.Freeman 2-8 4-8 8, Foster 5-11 0-0 14, Duckworth 5-12 2-2 12, Williams 4-8 0-1 8, Vick 0-3 0-0 0, G.Freeman 2-4 3-4 8, Brown 4-8 0-0 8, Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Fimple 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 24-64 (38%) 9-15 (60%) 63.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-29 (Edmonson 2-8, Muse 1-12, Atkins 0-6, Findley 0-3), North Little Rock 6-29 (Foster 4-9, Fimple 1-4, G.Freeman 1-1, A.Freeman 0-6, Vick 0-3, Hicks 0-2, Jones 0-2, Duckworth 0-1, Brown 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 18, North Little Rock 10. Rebounds: Bryant 22-24 46 (Atkins 2-9 11, Muse 5-4 9, Lain 2-2 4, Taylor 4-0 4, Knight 3-1 4, Findley 0-1 1, team 6-7 13), North Little Rock 19-26 45 (Duckworth 6-5 11, Williams 4-4 8, Jones 1-4 5, Foster 2-3 5, A.Freeman 0-5 5, Brown 3-1 4, Hicks 0-2 2, G.Freeman 2-0 2, Vick 0-1 1, Fimple 0-1 1, team 1-0 1). Team fouls: Bryant 14, North Little Rock 10.

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