By Rob Patrick
LITTLE ROCK — In a game as closely contested as the one played by the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team and the Mount St. Mary’s Mounties were engaged in at McAuley Center on Monday, Jan. 26, the slightest surge figured to be the difference.
But it was a rare thing for one of the teams to even score back-to-back baskets, let alone put a string of them together to gain any security.
The largest lead through three quarters was 3 points as both played active, stingy defense.But, to start the fourth, it finally happened. The Lady Hornets sparked by a three-point play by Raegan Barker put together a 9-1 stretch that put them on their way to a well-earned 26-21 road win.
At 15-4 overall and 8-2 in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference, the Lady Hornets thus headed into the final two weeks of the regular season, tied for second place with Cabot South, two games behind North Little Rock.Both remain on Bryant’s schedule.
A few blocks away, the Junior Hornets also picked up a crucial victory at Little Rock Catholic, 40-35.
“We had trouble on offense and couldn't stop them inside,” Hornets coach Steve Wilson reported. “It was 13-13 at half, and we led 25- 22 at the end of three quarters. We went to delay, got a good shot and missed. They came down and scored.
“We were behind by 4 with less than 1:20 to go but we hit a 3, called timeout, caused a couple of turnovers late, then hit some free throws,” he added. “We were 7-of-8 at the line in the fourth quarter.”
No stats were available from the game, which improved the Hornets to 11-8 overall and 5-5 in the division.
As for the Lady Hornets, Kayla Sory had hit a running jumper to cut into Mount’s largest lead of 15-12 right before the end of the third quarter.Sory forced a held ball to give her team a chance to tie it or take the lead but, in a series of events that was typically frustrating for Bryant, two free throws were missed by Jessie Taylor, Breanna Blundell rebounded but missed the follow and the game went to the fourth quarter with the Mounties up by 1.
Both teams missed shots but London Abernathy forced a held ball that gave Bryant a second chance to start the final period. Moments later, Abernathy, who had drawn considerable defensive attention after hitting a pair of 3-pointers, pulled up at the top of the lane and laced a pass inside to Barker for a layup and one.The three-point play started the decisive run.
Mount’s Summer Khairi trimmed a free throw from the lead with 4:16 to play but, at the other end, Sory, off a nice feed from Taylor, popped a 12-footer to push the lead to 19-16.
Mount’s Madi Thomas and Ellen Hain each had shots rim out and Blundell rebounded for the Lady Hornets.In turn, Bryant worked the ball against the Mounties’ trapping defense until Taylor got free for a short jumper that increased the margin.
The Lady Hornets were switching defenses on every possession and the Mounties struggled to solve them, taking precious time in the process. A miss by Brandy Escovedo led to a layup by Casey Lee off a sparkling pass from Barker that had Bryant up 23-16 with 2:19 to go.
“They had finally calmed down their offense against our man-to-man,” said head coach Eric Andrews. “They started running some stuff and getting some easy shots. I thought when we went back to the zone they kind of froze up and didn’t know what to do for a few minutes. There wasn’t enough time left in the game to do that. We went zone to man back to zone, switching defenses kind of slowed them down and it turned out to be the right thing to do. It worked out this time anyway.”
After a Mount St. Mary’s timeout, Barker swiped the ball on consecutive possessions but the Lady Hornets were unable to take advantage.With 1:30 left, Escovedo broke a 6:30 stretch between field goals for the Mounties. But a stickback at the other end by Barker and, with :47 left, a free throw produced an insurmountable lead.
Abernathy finished with 8 points to lead Bryant. Barker had all 6 of her points in the fourth quarter, matching Sory’s production.
The Lady Hornets were off to a fast start in the game on a 3 by Abernathy and a basket by Sory.
Up 5-2 with 2:52 left in the opening period, however, Barker picked up her second foul and went to the bench, joining Lee who also had two. Callie Hogancamp stepped in at the point and the Mount St. Mary’s defense attacked.
“When Casey and Raegen both got into foul trouble, especially Raegen, I thought Callie did a good job of coming in and playing hard but they were just swarming her,” Andrews said. “They put a lot of pressure on her so we missed Raegan out there quite a bit. Then Callie calmed down and did a great job, got the ball down the court. We limited the turnovers.”
And, as it was, the Bryant defense was itself staunch enough to keep Mount from building anything more than a 7-5 lead early in the second quarter.Barker, who had returned to start the second period, picked up her third foul and sat the rest of the half. But, with Hogancamp back in, the Lady Hornets evened the game. It was 9-9 at the half.
Escovedo opened the second half with a basket but Abernathy countered with her second triple and Bryant led 12-11. A bucket by Khairi and a steal and layup by Brittney Greenwood produced MSM’s largest lead.
“Raegan came back in the fourth quarter and gave us a spark, took good care of the ball for us and that was a big difference in the game,” Andrews said of the stretch run.
JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 26, MOUNTIES 21
Score by quarter
BRYANT 5 4 5 12 — 26
MSM 6 3 6 6 — 21
JUNIOR LADY HORNETS 26
Barker 2-4 2-3 6, Abernathy 3-7 0-0 8, Sory 3-7 0-1 6, Taylor 1-3 0-3 2, Lee 1-3 2-3 4, C.Hogancamp 0-1 0-0 0, Nichols 0-0 0-0 0, Blundell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 10-26 4-10 26.
Khairi 4-13 1-2 10, Greenwood 2-5 0-1 4, Thomas 0-1 0-0 0, Hain 0-3 0-0 0, Escovedo 3-7 1-6 7, Rinchuso 0-1 0-0 0, Burns 0-2 0-0 0, Burns 0-0 0-0 0, Crifosi 0-0 0-0 0, Kordsmeier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 9-32 2-9 21.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-3 (Abernathy 2-2, Barker 0-1), Mount St. Mary’s 1-5 (Khairi 1-4, Hain 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 29 (Taylor 6, Lee 5), Mount St. Mary’s 19 (Escovedo 4). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Mount St. Mary’s 11. Total fouls: Bryant 14, Mount St. Mary’s 14. Fouled out: Mount St. Mary’s, Thomas.