For more photos of this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
Aiden Adams, who had already hit four 3-pointers in the game, pump-faked this time and got the Conway White defender off his feet. With a hard dribble up the baseline, he got free for a pull-up jumper. It hit the iron once, twice, maybe a third time, then fell through as the buzzer sounded to end the game making the Bryant Hornets freshman team a 40-39 victor over the Wampus Cats in the third-place game at the annual Bryant Invitational Tournament Thursday night at the Bryant High School gym.
The Hornets trailed most of the night but never by much. Still, things looked a little bleak when Conway, with possession and a 39-35 lead with :43.1 on the clock.
The timeout helped Bryant too. Head coach Tyler Posey made sure his team knew who to foul and, when play resumed, they defended until that player got the ball with :35.8 showing. Just 1 for 5 at the line to that point in the game, the Conway White player went to the line and continued to struggle by missing both shots again.
With :23.1 left, the Hornets’ point guard Jalen Montgomery was fouled on the way to the hoop. He made the first shot to make it a three-point deficit but missed the second. In the fight for the rebound, Hayden Schrader got the ball and kicked it back outside to Ryan Riggs. His 3-pointer refused to fall but there was Gavin Burton for the rebound. He was fouled with :14.1 on the clock and made both shots.
Posey called timeout and reinforced what he had told them before about who to foul. And when he got the ball with :08 to go, they did. And, again, he missed both shots to set up Adams’ buzzer-beater.
“We didn’t play very well and I was pretty upset with our defense,” Posey said afterwards, referencing Tuesday’s 44-42 loss to Benton. “We played a pretty good defensive game on Tuesday for the most part and I thought that was going to carry over after we made a few adjustments but I didn’t think we were doing too good at it.
“But we stuck with it and stuck with it and made some really good plays down the stretch,” he added.
“I told them if we got it, we needed to get Jalen the ball,” he said of the last play. “We’re not going to call a timeout, we’re going to move. We didn’t want their defense to get set.”
Adams led the Hornets with 14 points. Schrader had 9 while Brunson and Braylon Walker added 5 each. Montgomery scored 3, Braden Godwin 2 with Riggs and Myles Aldridge picking up a free throw apiece.
Schrader hit two free throws to start the game but that was Bryant’s last lead until early in the fourth quarter. Conway White led 13-11 at the first break then held a 21-17 lead at the half.
It was 28-22 advantage with 1:18 left in the third quarter. Adams hit a 3 then Walker quickly canned a 15-footer to make it 28-27. At the other end, Walker took a charge to give the Hornets a chance to grab the lead. Aldridge was fouled and made one shot at the line to tie the game.
Both teams had chances to regain the upper hand before the quarter was out but couldn’t find the range.
Godwin, taking a feed from Walker, scored to open the fourth quarter and Bryant had its first lead since 2-0. Conway White tied it then Walker added a free throw and made a steal. But he couldn’t get his jumper to go and Bryant was unable to score for over three minutes.
Conway White pushed the margin to 39-35, setting up the dramatic finish.
“Coming out of the first two weeks with 11 football players and going 3-1, I’ll take that for the most part,” Posey stated. “We didn’t have a great game on Tuesday but we did the next best thing and took care of business tonight.”
Bryant will play again on Monday in their first Central Arkansas Junior High Conference contest against Cabot North at Bryant Middle School then take off for Thanksgiving.