By Rob Patrick
FAYETTEVILLE — A team of lesser character never would’ve made it so far. But the Bryant[more] Lady Hornets, engaged in one stressful, tight game after another this season, held together. They kept battling through the deep disappointment of the narrow defeats and finding ways to win, sometimes against the odds, enough to reach the Class 7A State Tournament.
There, on Thursday afternoon at Fayetteville High School’s Bulldog Arena, they faced a rematch against a talented West Memphis Lady Blue Devils team that put one athletic player on the court after another.
But with 1:39 left in the third quarter, there were the Lady Hornets dead even with them. Junior Dezerea Duckworth hit her second 3-pointer of the period to knot it at 21.
With a collapsing zone defense, Bryant had smothered the Lady Blue Devils star center Raquel Logan, holding her to a single free throw to that point.
But in just a few moments, struck by a pair of officiating calls that went against them, the Lady Hornets found themselves down 27-21, as Logan asserted herself.
With 5:39 to go, Bryant senior Logan Davis hit a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game but that was the last of the Lady Hornets’ scoring in the game. Sparked by their center, who would score 14 points in the final quarter, the Lady Blue Devils closed out the game with a 19-0 run that produced a 46-23 win that ended Bryant’s star-crossed season by a deceptively lopsided final score.
“We got down 7, 8 or 9 there and with three or four minutes to go, we knew playing zone they were going to hold it and run 45 seconds or a minute off the clock,” explained Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews. “If we’d have stayed in zone, we probably would’ve ended up getting beat 7, 8 or 9 but we still would’ve been done. We had to go ‘man’ at the end and try to pressure to get back in it but that was very unsuccessful.
“Their rebounding and size and athleticism — they hurt us on the boards and their defense really gave us trouble,” he said of West Memphis. “We couldn’t get a lot of good looks today. A lot of that falls on my shoulders, not having good stuff ready.”
The game marked the end of the Bryant High School careers of Davis, Courtney Davidson, Whitney Meyer, Hayley Murphy, and Kristen Scarlett.
“This is a good senior class,” Matthews stated. “They’re great kids, great young ladies. I’m really going to miss them and their contribution to our program. Next year’s seniors have big shoes to fill.”
Bryant trailed 10-4 after a quarter. The lone baskets for the Lady Hornets were a short jumper off a drive by Davidson and an offensive rebound bucket by Meyer, who would go on to collect nine caroms while playing a big role in keeping Logan frustrated.
But when Davis drained a 3 to start the second-quarter scoring, the Lady Hornets commenced putting together an 11-2 run to take the lead. Davis added an 18-foot jumper that was just short of a 3. Duckworth followed with a spin move that got her free inside for a basket to give Bryant its first lead 11-10.
West Memphis’ Danisha Turner scored but Duckworth answered with a baseline jumper and, after two Lady Devil misses, Jayla Anderson converted a pair of free throws to make it 15-12.
The Lady Devils’ Alexis Hamlet scored the last four points of the half, however, to give her team a 16-15 edge.
West Memphis added to the lead early in the second half but, behind Duckworth’s long-range shooting, Bryant had tied it at 21. Turner scored inside to snap the deadlock. Looking to answer, Davis drove the baseline through traffic and was called for a charge after she’d been hit on her layup attempt.
Taking advantage of the break, Hamlet hit a pair of free throws with :10.5 left to increase the margin to 25-21 going into the final period.
On the opening possession of the fourth quarter, Duckworth was trying to drive past a defender who had bodied up on the perimeter. Instead of a foul on the defender, however, Duckworth was cited for an offensive foul as she hooked the West Memphis player to get by her.
Moments later, Logan was fouled and converted twice at the line. At Bryant’s end, Davis drove the baseline on nearly the identical play that had cost her a foul moments before. This time, she got the call and cashed in with two from the stripe.
The Lady Hornets, incidentally, only shot four free throws in the game. When they beat West Memphis in December, they went 10 of 16 from the line.
But Logan hit a jumper in the lane then made a steal and a layup with the skills of a guard to make it 31-23.
Matthews took a timeout but, after Davis’ 3-point try rimmed out, Hamlet hit two free throws to make it a 10-point game with 3:44 left. Bryant missed a pair of shots to cut into the margin and that’s when West Memphis started spreading the floor and eating clock, forcing the Lady Hornets to come out of the zone. They just could not contain Logan.
LADY BLUE DEVILS 46, LADY HORNETS 23
Score by quarters
BRYANT 4 11 6 2 — 23
West Memphis 10 6 9 21 — 46
LADY HORNETS 23
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Duckworth 4-11 0-0 3-3 6 4 10
Davis 2-10 2-2 0-0 0 2 7
Weaver 0-3 0-0 0-1 1 2 0
Davidson 1-8 0-0 2-1 3 2 2
Meyer 1-2 0-0 2-7 9 2 2
Scarlett 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 0
Anderson 0-0 2-2 0-0 0 2 2
Smith 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Team 2-3 5
Totals 8-36 4-4 9-15 24 18 23
LADY BLUE DEVILS 46
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Stinson 0-4 4-4 0-0 0 3 4
Patterson 1-4 1-2 2-4 6 0 3
Hamlet 4-8 6-10 2-3 5 2 14
Turner 5-8 0-0 2-4 6 1 10
Logan 6-12 3-4 3-7 10 1 15
Jordan 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Motley 0-0 0-0 1-0 1 0 0
Woods 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Perry 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 1-1 2
Totals 16-39 14-20 11-19 30 8 46
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-15 (Duckworth 2-3, Davis 1-6, Weaver 0-3, Davidson 0-2, Scarlett 0-1), West Memphis 0-5 (Jordan 0-2, Woods 0-1, Stinson 0-1, Hamlet 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 14, West Memphis 7.