Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SPORTS>>Bryant holds off Cabot

Leader sportswriter

Close games are simply a way of life in the 7A-Central Conference, and Friday’s thriller between Bryant and Cabot was no exception.

The Lady Hornets benefited from a solid 18-of-25 night at the free-throw line, along with a 27-point, nine-rebound, five-steal performance from Alana Morris for a nail-biting 69-66 win at Panther Pavilion.

Jenna Bailey was the Lady Panthers’ last hope in the final seven seconds, but her three-point shot from the right wing was just off. Bailey’s steal and dish to Taylor Rosel 20 seconds earlier resulted in a trip to the line for Rosel, who hit the back end of a two-shot foul to knot it at 66-66.

Haylie Montgomery put Bryant back on top with a pair of free throws. A shot to tie by Brett Absure missed, and Taylor Hughes grabbed the board for the Lady Hornets. She was immediately fouled, and hit a free throw to set the final margin.

“It was a great game if you were a fan,” said Cabot assistant coach Charles Ruple. “The JV game went two overtimes and people kept coming in. The next thing you know, we had a really nice crowd. The fans on both sides were really into it. Our kids played well. Both teams are really well coached. There were a lot of changes there at the end that you didn’t think there would be.”

Cabot (14-5, 3-2) went 14 of 23 from the foul line, and shot 47 percent from the floor (26 of 55). The Lady Hornets (14-2, 5-0) didn’t get as many looks, but made the most of them. They shot 55 percent (23 of 42), including 5 of 13 from three-point land.

Bryant looked dominant at the start. Hannah Goshien hit a three-point basket to put the Lady Hornets up 8-0 at the 6:20 mark, but Cabot began to attack inside with senior post players Stephanie Glover and UALR signee Shelby Ashcraft.

Ashcraft got the Lady Panthers on the scoreboard with 5:59 left in the first quarter, followed by a basket by Amber Rock. Rock then answered a steal and two by Goshien with a steal and dish to Brooke Taylor to make it 12-7.

Glover and Ashcraft took over from there. Glover sandwiched an Ashcraft jumper with two baskets that gave the Lady Panthers their first lead of the game at 15-14 with 1:40 left in the opening period.

Momentum was fickle most of the night, but Cabot grabbed it late in the second period to end the first half on a 14-0 run. Rosel hit a basket and followed that with two free throws at the 2:09 mark to tie the game at 32, and 6-3 junior post Sarah Moore scored on an inbounds assist from Glover to hand the lead back to the Lady Panthers. Rock scored the final two baskets of the half, the first of which came off a steal by senior Lindsay Hoggatt with 31 seconds left. Her second goal just before the buzzer set the halftime margin at 42-32.

Morris finished the first half with 11 points for Bryant. Her start to the second half not only put the Lady Hornets right back in the game, but also gave them a shot of momentum that carried them the rest of the way. Morris led an 11-2 run for Bryant to start the third quarter, including a three-point basket at the 5:21 mark to make it 44-41. She tied the game with a pair of free throws in the final minute of the period to tie the game at 48.

“From what I’ve seen of that team over the last couple of years, everything seems to go through her,” Ruple said. “The coach has a lot of confidence in her. She’s one of their seniors. There were a couple of times we were sure they were going to her. They ran similar plays, but they ran the little girl out instead.”

Glover led the Lady Panth-ers with 18 points and eight rebounds. Rosel added nine points, with eight each for Ashcraft, Rock and Taylor. Moore had seven rebounds, and Bailey led defensively with four steals.

For Bryant, Goshien finished with 18 points and five rebounds.

Cabot’s game last night with Van Buren was postponed.