NORTH LITTLE ROCK — In a rugged game in which the Bryant White Lady Hornets eighth grade team of Bryant Middle School shot just four free throws, the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats eighth grade rallied from an 11-point deficit to extract a 29-27 win on Thursday night.
It was a far different game than the one the two teams played just two days before at Bryant when North Little Rock won 46-22.
Thursday’s game was part of a trio of them Thursday night. North Little Rock won 17-10 in a seventh-grade game and 12-6 in a seventh-grade B game.
“This was a great night of basketball,” said Lady Hornets coach Ben Perry. “We all played well. We just were not able to pull out the win.”
In the eighth-grade contest, Bryant led 6-5 after a quarter, 16-13 at the half and 25-19 going into the fourth quarter.
“This was a great game and we were actually up at one point by 11, I think,” Perry said. The key was free throws and hard play.”
“We played this team on Monday and this time, North Little Rock had to play from behind,” he noted. “The girls played tough despite things not going their way. They played through adversity and took the fight to them.”
Daria Greer led the Lady Hornets with 15 points including the only four free throws they attempted as a team. Jordan Hancock and Jayla Purifoy had 4 points each while Caitlin LaCerra and Shamya Jordan pitched in with 2 apiece.
“Daria had her best game of the year,” said Perry. “Jordan Hancock found herself in foul trouble early and everyone rallied. The defense was tough. We drove the lane and kicked out very well. We played transition basketball and didn’t let North Little Rock’s aggressiveness dictate the game.”
Once the Lady Hornets got their lead up to 11, the coach said, “It seemed we could not get a call. I didn’t even realize how lopsided the free throws were until (Friday). It is not like we were not driving and getting shots. However, with only shooting four free throws an entire game while the other team shoots 17, something is wrong and it wasn’t like we were not being aggressive on defense.
“I guess I can be happy that we shot 100 percent but something is off with that count,” he added. “They were 9 of 17 and that allowed them back ahead of us.”
With 30 seconds left, the Lady Hornets found themselves trailing by 6.
“With quick scoring and quick fouling, we found ourselves only down by 2 with 10 seconds left,” Perry related. “We fouled quickly and I told the ref, we wanted a timeout on our rebound. We got it. We then set up a play and we were on our way until we got shoved out of bounds.
Somehow the ball goes out to the baseline and the call is North Little Rock ball.
“We were in position to score to move the game to overtime but it wasn’t meant to be,” he concluded. “It was a great game and even the assistant principal Mr. (Clint) Shadwick came down to congratulate each player on their hard performance. It was a great game that just didn’t go our way.”
The Lady Hornets host Bryant Blue on Monday.
In the seventh-grade game, it was tied 4-4 after the first quarter. North Little Rock then surged to a 15-6 lead at the half. It was 17-6 going into the fourth quarter.
“They played extremely hard and aggressive,” Perry said. “We were playing at North Little Rock and it is always an environment that is hard to play in. I would say the biggest factor in this game was free throws on our side. We were 0 for 8 at the line along with not shooting very well (from the field).
“In the past our fault has been not shooting,” he noted. “Now we are shooting but we are not taking balanced shots with proper footwork. This we can build on.
“I was very impressed on how the girls played against a team that beat Sylvan HIlls who blew us out,” the coach mentioned. “They kept the game close and were on a comeback towards the fourth quarter. We had a slump in the third. However, we limited North Little Rock to only scoring 2 points the whole second half.
Jayla Knight scored 4 of Bryant’s points. Saniyah Ellison, Kylee Fleharty and Haya Winfield scored 2 each.
“Unfortunately, we came away with Ellison suffering a blow to the head,” Perry said. “She is now on concussion protocol. With other injuries, we are beaten up so the weekend is much needed for rest while we gather ourselves for Monday against Bethel.”
In the B game, Tamya Williams scored 4 points and Makayla Davidson 3.