Watching 2010-11 Lady Hornets recollects a stellar season from 20 years ago

Editor’s note: This is the 20th anniversary of the Bryant Lady Hornets’ fourth of four State and Overall basketball championships. Martin Couch, working with me at the Benton Courier, covered Bryant, his alma mater, in those days and he wrote this piece special[more] for a commemorative program that was put together for the members of that team in 1991 after the season. Martin has since worked for NASCAR and ESPN Outdoors among others along with the Courier, the Saline County Voice and newspapers in North Little Rock, El Dorado and Stuttgart as a sportswriter before agreeing to help out as a news reporter and sometimes sports reporter. He also serves as a sports stringer for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. In that capacity, he got to see the 2010-11 Lady Hornets over the holidays at the Summit Bank Spa City Shootout.

— Rob

By Martin Couch

The undefeated streak of the Bryant Lady Hornets so far this season has me comparing them to those famous Bryant teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Those teams won three of four overall state championships for the Lady Hornets. One team in particular completed the season with a 39-1 overall record and defeated Lamar in the final game.

In perhaps an inspirational piece for this year's Lady Hornets, here's a blast from the past:

Bryant outlasts Lamar to win fourth Overall Championship

For the last five months, the Bryant Lady Hornets made it evident that they were in quest of their fourth Overall Championship.

For Bryant seniors Heather Torrick, Shannon Thomey, Traci Harrison, Tracey Wilson, Amber Carr, Nikki Spradlin and Lori Conrad, the long journey which saw them win 38 games in a row cameto an end Saturday night at the Jeff Farris Center on the University of Central Arkansas campus. The No. 1 ranked Lady Hornets defeated the No. 2 ranked Lamar Lady Warriors 59-50 to claim the coveted crown again. Bryant, 39-1, upended County Line in the semifinals 79-67.

As it had all year, defense spurred the Lady Hornets to the title. Fundamentally sound man to man keyed a 12-0 run at the end of the third period to the middle of the fourth and put Bryant back on top against the Lady Warriors. Lamar overcame a five point Lady Hornet lead with four three-pointers, three by guard Jana Holman alone, and took a 37-31 advantage with 49 seconds left in the third.

Crystal Tausan and Torrick each hit baskets for Bryant to close it to 37-35 and to begin the fourth, Tausan canned a three-pointer to put the Lady Hornets up by one. She stole the ball at midcourt and got a feed from Thomey for a 40-37 lead with 6:02 showing. Thomey completed a three-point play for the Lady Hornets largest margin, 43-37.

Nicole Morrow hit a 14-footer to halt the run, but Beth Young scored and Thomey made a steal in a full court press and was fouled. She hit the first then Torrick grabbed her missed second shot and put it back in for a comfortable 48-39 lead wiht 4:29 to play. Holman hit another three-pointer, but Tausan countered for Bryant. Young hit from the baseline and Thomey hit another free throw for a commanding 54-42 advantage at the 2:43 mark.

For the first time in the game, Bryant head coach Carla Crowder could breath a little easier.

Holman hit a drivng shot and Nicki Heruska bombed in a trey to cut the lead to seven, 54-47, but Torrick answered with two free throws and Tausan added two for an 11 point lead with 44 seconds left.

The celebration started.

Tracie Harrison put the icing on the cake with a free throw with 20 seonds remaining. The Lady Hornets had accomplished a goal that had evaded them since the seniors were sophomores.

"It feels great," Crowder said. "We came out and played well in the fourth quarter. Shannon and Crystal did a great job tonight. I was a little intense, but I really wasn't nervous. Lamar's kids played a super game and never gave up. Sometimes we didn't concentrate like we should have, but those girls have worked so hard all year long and look at waht all they've accomplished."

Bryant won the Lovelady Invitational, the Joe. T. Robinson, the UCA Invitational, the AAAA-South conference with a perfect 12-0 record, the AAAA State Championship and the Overall Tournament for the third time in the last four years.

Under Crowder's reign, the Lady Hornets have won four AAAA-South conference championshps, three AAAA titles and three overall championships. They've ammassed an unbelievable mark of 135-10 over the last four years.

Against Lamar, Thomey, Torrick and Harrison had four points each in the first quarter. Thomey got Bryant on the board first with a 16-footer from the wing, then Torrick broke an early tie with two free throws. Thomey gave the Lady Hornets a 6-2 advantage with her second straight 16-footer.

Torrick scored, but Megan DeYoung hit two consecutive from inside for the Lady Warriors to close within two. Finally, Holman tied the game at eight with a jumper from the baseline. Harrison gave Bryant the lead with a 17-foot arching shot, but this time Dody Nordin tied it for Lamar.

Harrison again let loose with a long jumper and connected, but Holman countered for the Lady Warriors to make the score 12-12 with 2:39 left in the first. Lamar scored the last points of the period when Morrow hit at the 51 second mark. The Lady Hornets had overcome the intial nervousness and settled into their game.

Holman canned another jumper from the wing to put their Lady Warriors up by four early in the second. However, Young hit from the baseline and Tausan stole the ball from Morrow and drove for an uncontested layup to tie it at 16-16. Thomey took a charge and Young converted for Bryant to take the lead. Tracey Wilson came in off the bench to sink three of four free throws in one minute to extend the Lady Hornets lead to five with 2:04 left in the half.

Thomey made a steal and missed the easy layup, but Tausan was there for the rebound. However, she missed the follow and finally Thomey grabbed the loose ball and put in a scoop shot. She was fouled by Morrow and made the free shot for a 23018 lead.

De Young sank a free throw to make it a four point game at halftime.De Young put back an offensive rebound to begin the second half and pull the Lady Warriors to within a basket. But Harrison and Thomey each hit for Bryant for a six point lead with 6:12 left, then the tide turned in favor of Lamar. The Lady Warriors 16-4 outburst awakened the Lady Hornets who responded by rallying for their 48-39 lead midway in the fourth quarter.

For seven Lady Hornet seniors, the season couldn't have ended more perfectly.

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