It was the one that nearly got away for the Bryant White Lady Hornets eighth grade team on Thursday night.
But, despite being outscored 10-0 over the final 2:40, the Lady Hornets held on for their eighth straight victory, 27-26, over the Conway White Lady Cats eighth graders at Buzz Bolding Arena.
The 11-point lead that Bryant White had amassed by that point in the game proved to be just enough. They did that with their own run of 13-2 from the 3:04 mark of the third quarter to the 2:52 mark of the fourth, utilizing their trapping defense and quick hands to stymie the Lady Cats.
Jordan Hancock led the Lady Hornets with 12 points including three consecutive buckets in the fourth quarter. Daria Greer had 11 points including 8 of Bryant White’s first 10 plus a free throw to snap a 14-14 tie and start the decisive run in the third quarter.
Shamya Jordan and Caitlin LaCerra each added a basket during the surge.
Conway White actually cut the lead to 27-25 with :28.3 showing. After Lady Cats’ timeout, Hancock missed a short jumper only to have LaCerra grab the offensive rebound. Lady Hornets’ coach Ben Perry called time with :19.5 to go.
Jayla Purifoy couldn’t get a shot to go but Hancock rebounded. Eventually, Regan Dillon was fouled with :08 left.
Though she missed both shots, Conway White’s post player was fouled on the rebound. With a chance to tie it, she missed the front end of the two-shot foul and made the second to make it a one-point lead.
The Lady Hornets inbounded the ball to LaCerra who got up the floor without being fouled as time ran out.
It was a physical game,” said Perry. “It was our first game back from break and it went like it was the first game back. We were sloppy and sluggish on defense and we didn’t take care of the ball on offense. We were not deliberate or smart with our shots and how to create open shots. This caused us to have tons of blocked shots on the perimeter due to slow releases and poor ball handling.
Bryant White trailed 6-4 after a quarter. Hancock tied it then Greer made a steal and a layup to give the Lady Hornets the lead.
The game was back and forth after that. Conway White bounced back to take an 11-10 edge but, on the strength of a free throw and a basket by Hancock, the Lady Hornets led 13-11 at the half.
“We were aggressive in our press but once the press was broken we did not hustle back on defense and allowed too many open shots or layups,” Perry noted. “The calls went as expected and we found ourselves behind in the first quarter with Conway taking eight free throws in the first quarter to our two.
“Our post got 3 fouls early in the first half and had to sit until 3rd quarter,” he continued. “We managed to have a two-point lead somehow at halftime.
“I told them at half that we must start getting aggressive on defense no matter how the calls go,” the coach related. “We can’t let calls dictate the game and make us not be aggressive or timid. Offensively, we could not hit a shot and the girls were not following through with our plan of attack like they should. We regrouped and found more open shots in the second half, they just still didn’t seem to fall.”
After making a steal, Hancock added a free throw to start the third quarter. But Conway White hit the only 3 of the game to tie it at 14.
That’s when Greer hit a free throw to start the Bryant run. Jordan scored inside then Greer made a steal and a layup. When LaCerra hit an 18-footer, just short of a 3, with :40.3 left in the quarter, it extended the margin to 21-14, which held going into the final stanza.
Conway White hit the offensive glass to break the Lady Hornets’ 7-0 run but then Hancock scored the next 6 points. Her first basket came off an inbounds play with Dillon providing the assist. Savannah Lucas then made a steal that led to Hancock’s bucket that made it 25-16.
A minute later, she took advantage of another Conway turnover to make it 27-16.
“We found ourselves at one point up by 11 in the fourth quarter,” Perry acknowledged. “However, with a little aid from their press and calls going their way, Conway was able to cut that lead significantly. We were able to squeak one out by one point but there were many lessons these girls learned through this game and after. We must not only learn how to play better basketball but we must be basketball smart and know situations in the game and how to handle those situations. We took shots late in the game that we shouldn’t have taken instead of running out the clock. We did not capitalize on defense like we should have with our turnovers that we created.
“We also allowed too many free-throw attempts by the other team,” he said. “I think the free throw count was Conway 11 of 24 compared to our 5 of 11. That is a drastic difference considering the manner in which it was done.
“However, a win is a win and every game we are learning new lessons,” the coach concluded. “We will work hard next week to become game ready as we take on Cabot North once again at Cabot. There are always good and bad things to take away from each game win or lose. We have a tough group and they are learning to fight for every game. I’m proud of them and look forward to the rest of the season. We went 8-2 the first part of our season and now we must play the 2nd half of the season with our remaining 8 games. Let’s see if we can finish as strong as we started.”
The Lady Hornets will go for nine in a row at Cabot North on Thursday, Jan. 11.