By Rob Patrick
RUSSELLVILLE — The Bryant Hornets’ four-overtime win over a very good Wynne Yellowjackets team in the third-place game at the Searcy Bank Classic back on Dec. 5 has proven to be both a blessing and a curse.
A blessing because it was a well-earned win over a quality opponent and showed what the Hornets are capable of this season; a curse, well, because it was a well-earned win over a quality opponent and showed what the Hornets are capable of this season.
That’s right, the same reasons.[more]
They have something to live up to which makes it tough but they, at least, they know they can.
Since then, however, they’ve only showed flashes of that form. In Tuesday’s game at Lake Hamilton, the flashes were brief in a 59-44 loss. On Thursday, when they opened play in the Cyclone Classic at Russellville High School against the Arkadelphia Badgers, they showed improvement; they played well for more extended periods of time yet they wound up struggling down the stretch, scoring just 2 points in the final 5:30 and suffering a 54-44 loss after the game had been tied as late as the 5:36 mark.
“We’ve just got to learn to play a whole ballgame,” declared Hornets head coach Ron Marvel. “The Wynne game is the only game that we’ve put a ballgame together where we played pretty good for a longer stretch than a quarter. Tonight, it was kind of that same thing. We play for a quarter then we think we can take off for a while. You can’t win ballgames like that.”
The Hornets dropped to 2-3 on the season going into the consolation bracket at the tournament. They were set to play again today at 4 p.m., against the loser of Thursday’s game between Camden Fairview and Subiaco Academy.
After struggling at the start at Lake Hamilton, the Hornets opened against Arkadelphia on fire. They hit their first seven shots from the field on the way to building a 16-6 lead.
“At the beginning of the ballgame, I thought we had a little bit of intensity,” Marvel observed. “We came out like we really wanted to play. We had a good first quarter.”
Senior Dontay Renuard, who would go on to lead his team with 14 points in the game, opened the scoring with a 3 and, moments later, K Ron Lairy drove into the lane had canned a jumper. After an Arkadelphia miss, Lairy fed Kendall Butzlaff who drained an eight-foot jay to make it 7-0.
The Badgers broke the ice with 5:10 left in the opening quarter (nearly three minutes into the game) when Trae Bledsoe drove the baseline for a bucket. Marshawn Arnold’s dunk made it 7-4 but Lairy answered with a 12-footer. When Lairy found teammate K.J. Hampton for a layup, Bryant led 11-4.
Arnold’s second dunk was answered by Hampton’s eight-foot jumper. Lairy followed with a 3 to complete the run.
The Hornets forced a turnover to get a chance to bump the lead further but Renuard’s 3-point try missed and, with 1:09 left in the quarter, Cordaris Arnold drilled a 3 to start a 15-2 blitz that had the Badgers up 21-8.
Trailing 21-18, the Hornets bounced back with a turnaround jumper from the post that sophomore Quinton Motto converted.
Brandon Parish took a change to give the Horners a chance to regain the lead and Renuard drained another triple to put the Hornets ahead 23-21.
Makieth Arnold hit the offensive glass to score and tie it up when Brantley Cozart, another sophomore, beat the buzzer with a fall-away jumper from the left baseline, the Hornets had a 25-23 lead.
“The second quarter, we started to fall off and we quit giving any effort but we ran in a couple of people off the bench and they picked us back up again,” Marvel observed. “They helped us. We went at halftime with a 2-point lead and felt pretty good about the ball game. We come back out in the third quarter and I didn’t think we had a bad third quarter.”
The Hornets maintained the lead as the two teams traded hoops. With 5:10 left in the quarter, Bledsoe hit a baseline jumper and, after a Hornets turnover, Sharron Robinson tipped in a teammate’s miss to lift the Badgers into the lead, 33-32.
But that edge didn’t stay intact. Renuard hit a 3 to put the Hornets back in front, 35-33.
Cordaris Arnold banked in a 3 and the Badgers built a 40-35 lead before Parish’s reverse layup had the Hornets within 3 as the third quarter drew to a close.
Renuard made a steal that led to a layup by Motto off a nice feed from L.J. McLaughlin.
Arkadelphia’s Marshawn Arnold scored inside before Renuard’s third trey knotted the game at 42 with 5:36 left in the game.
The Badgers, however, closed the game with a 12-2 run, interrupted only by a layup by Cozart off a nice feed from Parish who had gone to the floor to claim a loose ball with 3:05 left. While the Badgers were expanding the margin from there, the Hornets had two fruitless trips to the free throw line.
“Toward the end of the fourth quarter, our intensity left us and we just didn’t play very hard,” Marvel stated. “When you miss clutch free throws and you miss easy shots and you don’t rebound, you usually get beat.”
Renuard finished with 14 points. Lairy had 7 all in the first quarter. Hampton finished with 6 and Parish 5.For Arkadelphia, Bledsoe finished with 17, Cordaris Arnold 14 and Marshawn Arnold 11.
ARKADELPHIA 54, BRYANT 44
Score by quarters
Arkadelphia 11 12 17 14 — 54
BRYANT 16 9 12 7 — 44
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
S.Robinson 2-4 0-1 2-1 3 2 4
J.Robinson 0-2 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
Bledsoe 8-10 0-0 1-3 4 4 17
C.Arnold 5-17 1-2 2-3 5 0 14
Mar.Arnold 5-10 1-2 5-6 11 1 11
Mak.Arnold 1-2 1-2 1-0 1 0 3
Clayborn 1-3 0-0 0-2 2 2 3
Dixon 0-2 2-2 3-0 3 0 2
Franks 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Team 0-1 1
Totals 22-50 5-9 14-17 31 11 54
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Lairy 3-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 7
Parish 2-5 0-0 0-0 0 2 5
Butzlaff 1-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 2
Hampton 3-8 0-4 2-4 6 1 6
Renuard 5-9 0-0 1-7 8 5 14
McLaughlin 1-2 0-0 1-0 1 1 2
Cozart 2-3 0-0 0-0 0 1 4
Motto 2-3 0-0 0-2 2 1 4
Rayburn 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
Team 2-4 6
Totals 19-40 0-4 6-19 25 12 44
Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-15 (Renuard 4-6, Lairy 1-4, Parish 1-3, McLaughlin 0-1, Cozart 0-1), Arkadelphia 5-15 (C.Arnold 3-11, Clayborn 1-2, Bledsoe 1-1, Mak.Arnold 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 12, Arkadelphia 8.