Photos by Kevin Nagle
There was a time when Bryant Hornets junior point guard Calvin Allen struggled to score. He could handle. He could defend. He could distribute.
Hard work on his shot has paid off this season. He’s scored in double digits a few times.
But, on Tuesday, Allen went off on the Little Rock Catholic Rockets, pumping in a career high 29 points including eight 3-pointers to lead the Hornets to a 60-35 victory that officially secured a trip to the Class 7A State Tournament in Cabot. (The last time the tourney was in Cabot, Bryant reached the semifinals.)
As a team, the Hornets fired in 11 3’s including two by Jordan Walker and another by Romen Martin.
Allen hit six of his 3’s in the second half, four in the third quarter when the Hornets turned a tie game at half into a 37-24 lead going into the fourth.
“Calvin’s such a good kid, such a hard worker,” said Bryant coach Mike Abrahamson. “He really deserves a night like this. He’s done everything I’ve asked him to do. It’s a night that doesn’t really shock me. Quite honestly, you could see it coming. You just didn’t know when. He puts in a lot of time. He definitely didn’t used to shoot it like that. He’s really come on for us. I’m happy for him because he deserves a night like that.
“He’s been really frustrated at times but, to his credit, he’s hung in there, he’s persevered and just kept working,” the coach said of Allen’s struggles in the past. “He doesn’t pout about it. He doesn’t get down about it. He just kept working. And what an example for others to follow that, if you just stick to the process and keep working and don’t get down about things, then things can turn around for you.”
The Hornets put together a 17-2 run to start the third quarter.
“The first half, I didn’t dislike what we were doing,” Abrahamson said. “I just thought we could do it better. We were shooting a lot of 3’s and I thought we were settling for those 3’s instead of getting 3’s that we like, in rhythm, in-and-out 3’s, kick-out 3’s, good ball reversals. I felt like, at times, the ball was moving slow and we just kind of settled for one.
“We talked about that (at halftime), made some defensive adjustments and it all just kind of worked together to get the result we got in the second half,” he continued. “The kids followed every adjustment we talked about at halftime and, to their credit, they were incredible after halftime, doing exactly what we talked about. Got to give them credit for doing that because some of that is not as easy to do as you’d think it is.”
The Hornets used a 1-2-2 trapping zone press to good effect, speeding up the Rockets and taking them out of rhythm. They suffered 12 of their 17 turnovers in the second half.
Bryant led 9-8 after a quarter with Allen accounting for 7 of those 9 points. Kevin Hunt added a layup off a steal. The Hornets trailed 8-7 before Allen beat the buzzer with a drive past the Rockets’ 6-10 center Brian Beckwith.
Catholic’s Jack Mathis scored the first 5 points of the second quarter to produce a 13-9 edge but Allen nailed his second trey and Hunt made a steal and a slam dunk to put Bryant up 14-13.
The Rockets answered with a basket by Drake Enderlin and free throws by Beckwith but a three-point play by Hunt had it tied 17-17 at the half.
Bryant’s second half surge started with a couple of assists from Allen on back-to-back baskets by Lowell Washington. Off a Rockets’ turnover, Allen knocked down another 3 to make it 24-17.
Jack Storey connected from 3-point range for Catholic before the Hornets reeled off 10 straight points. Washington got another bucket, this time off an assist from Hunt. Braylon Steen made a steal and a layup. After a Rockets timeout, Allen popped a triple. Catholic turned it over and he drained another, this time off another feed from Hunt, making it 34-20.
Beckwith canned a 12-footer but Allen buried his fourth troika of the quarter to make it a 15-point lead. Free throws by Chad Wharton trimmed the margin to 37-24 going into the fourth quarter.
The run for Bryant resumed when Walker sank a 3. At the other end, Beckwith was surprised to have his shot blocked by Bryant’s 6-7 Kyle Sahr. Noah Basham scored off an inbounds play for the Rockets and they got a chance to cut it further only to have Allen and Marvin Moody combined to force a turnover. Hunt kicked out to Allen for yet another 3. Walker followed up with a triple from the top of the key.
A free throw by Allen and a layup for Moody off Martin’s dish had the Hornets ahead 49-26 with 4:47 left to play.
Before Abrahamson pulled the starters, Martin and Allen knocked down 3’s and Washington scored off a whip-around pass from Martin. It was 57-31.
In the final two minutes, Rickey Allen scored 3 points and Mathis had 4 to set the final margin.
Next up for Bryant, now 17-5 overall and 7-2 in conference play, is a trip to Van Buren. The Pointers will by trying to avenge their 45-44 loss at Bryant on Jan. 15 in hopes of gaining a share of the lead among 7A teams in the 7A/6A-Central Conference. With a win, the Hornets could sew up the top seed from the league for the 7A tournament.
HORNETS 60, ROCKETS 35
Score by quarters
Catholic 8 9 7 11 — 35
BRYANT 9 8 20 23 — 60
ROCKETS (4-16, 3-6, 0-4) 35
Wharton 0-1 4-4 4, Basham 1-3 0-0 2, Enderlin 4-5 0-2 8, Beckwith 2-14 2-2 6, Mathis 3-3 3-4 9, Storey 1-3 0-0 3, Ford 0-2 0-0 0, Alsbrook 1-1 0-0 3, Allison 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-32 (38%) 9-12 (75%) 35.
HORNETS (17-5, 7-2, 4-0) 60
C.Allen 10-17 1-2 29, Hunt 3-11 1-1 7, Steen 1-5 0-0 2, Washington 4-5 0-0 8, Martin 1-6 0-0 3, Moody 1-2 0-2 2, Sahr 0-2 0-0 0, Walker 2-5 0-0 6, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Cowart 0-0 0-0 0, McIntosh 0-1 0-0 0, R.Allen 1-2 1-2 3, Chumley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 (41%) 3-7 (43%) 60.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 11-24 (C.Allen 8-13, Walker 2-4, Martin 1-4, Hunt 0-3), Catholic 2-7 (Storey 1-2, Alsbrook 1-1, Basham 0-2, Ford 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 9, Catholic 17. Rebounds: Bryant 14-18 32 (C.Allen 3-3 6, Hunt 1-5 6, Moody 3-1 4, Steen 1-2 3, Washington 2-1 3, Martin 2-1 3, Walker 1-2 3, Moore 0-1 1, team 1-2 3), Catholic 3-21 24 (Beckwith 0-9 9, Enderlin 1-3 4, Basham 0-2 2, Mathis 0-2 2, Wharton 0-1 1, Storey 0-1 1, team 2-3 5). Team fouls: Bryant 12, Catholic 7.