By Rob Patrick
RUSSELLVILLE — It’s been a long time — if ever — since a Bryant Hornets basketball team had a front line that went anything close to 6-7, 6-5, 6-4.
That’s what the Hornets faced, however, on Thursday when they opened play in the[more] Cyclone Classic at Russellville High School. The Arkadelphia Badgers came into the contest with a 5-1 record, suffering their first loss of the season to Little Rock J.A. Fair just a couple of days before. They took that out on the Hornets as the front line trio of 6-5 Trae Bledsoe, 6-4 Marshawn Arnold and 6-7 Armondo Everett combined for 39 points and 28 rebounds in a 68-53 win.
The Hornets will continue their quest for their first win of the season this afternoon at 4 against Sheridan.
Junior Jordan Griffin scored a season-high 21 points for the Hornets. Brantley Cozart added 8 and Houston Garner 6. Logan Trudell came off the bench late to add 5 points.
And the Hornets actually got to shoot 13 free throws as they made a concentrated effort to try to get to the basket. However, Arkadelphia’s size and leaping ability forced the Hornets to alter shots when they weren’t rejected.
Oh, and Arkadelphia shot 36 free throws extending a season-long trend for the Hornets and their opponents.
The Badgers out-rebounded the Hornets 40-26 too. Everett and Bledsoe each had 10, Arnold eight.
Still, the game didn’t get away from the Hornets until the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth. They were down 46-35 going into the final minute of the third before Badgers’ guard Sharrod Robinson (12 points), hit a free throw. Griffin had a shot blocked by Bledsoe and, after the Hornets played the ball in, a turnover led to a bucket by Bledsoe at the other end, making it 49-35 going into the final eight minutes.
Out of the break, Arkadelphia worked a play to get Arnold to the rim for an alley-oop dunk that bumped the lead to 16. The Hornets couldn’t get a shot to go but Cozart stole the ball back and hit a jumper in the lane to interrupt the run. With 6:41 left, Jakhiry Dixon was fouled and, though the Badgers were in the double bonus, he missed twice. But Everett bumped Bryant’s 6-6 Quinton Motto out of the way, rebounded and scored.
Another turnover led to a layup by Bledsoe, who finished with 20 points, to make it 55-37.
Sophomore Zach Cambron hit a baseline jumper for Bryant but, in return, Arnold drove for a basket and, after a Hornets miss, Bledsoe added two more free throws to give the Badgers a 59-39 lead.
The Hornets made a push at that point. Leon Neale’s offensive rebound bucket got it started and, after a Badgers’ turnover, Griffin drove for a deuce.
After a timeout, Bryant forced another Arkadelphia miscue but missed an opportunity to cut into the lead further. Markeith Arnold rebounded and was fouled with 2:43 left. He converted twice to make it 61-43.
But Griffin buried a 3 and, after Bledsoe missed an attempt to answer in kind, Garner drove for a basket that had the Hornets back within 13.
After an Arkadelphia timeout, Bledsoe and Griffin traded baskets before the Badgers started working the clock and shooting free throws. In the final 1:19, they converted 5 of 8 to expand the lead to 68-50. The Hornets were unable to score again until Trudell knocked down a 3 with :16 left to set the final score.
The lead seesawed in the early going. Garner drove for the first basket of the game but Dixon answered with a 3. Cozart fed Garner on a back-door play to make it 4-3 only to have Dixon knocked down a second triple. After the Hornets missed a couple of chances to answer, Cozart took a charge to give them a third try. He and Motto worked a nice pick-and-roll resulting in a three-point play for Motto and a 7-6 Bryant lead.
But Arkadelphia closed out the quarter on a 13-3 run that extended to 17-3 early in the second, producing a 23-10 lead.
Cozart’s 3 was the only Bryant basket during that stretch. He would hit a driving jumper with 4:36 left in the half to start a bit of a Hornet run. His second trey made it 23-15 and, after a free throws by Marshawn Arnold, Griffin’s three-point play had the Hornets within 6.
And, at the other end, Neale took a charge to give them a chance to trim the margin further. But Cozart couldn’t get his shot to go and, in a frustrating sequence, Markeith Arnold missed two free throws only to have Everett rebound. He was fouled and converted once to make it 25-18. A held ball went Arkadelphia’s way and a stickback by Markeith Arnold increased the lead to 9 again.
Griffin hit a pair of free throws and Bryant sophomore Aaron Bell was fouled after grabbing the carom off a Badger miss. But the first shot of the one-and-one rimmed out and the Badgers took advantage with Greg Clayborn drilling a 3 from the top of the key. Markeith Arnold added a free throw to make it 31-20.
Motto got a chance to answer at the line but couldn’t get either shot to fall but Griffin was fouled after rebounding an Arkadelphia miss. His free throws — the Hornets were actually in the double bonus in the final minute of the half — set the halftime score at 31-22.
Griffin gave Bryant an opportunity to make it closer when he absorbed a charge but a turnover followed.
To start the second half, Robinson and Everett scored for the Badgers. Though Bryant’s Kyle Nossaman drained a 3 from the corner to make it 35-25, the Hornets could get no closer than that the rest of the game.
ARKADELPHIA 68, BRYANT 53
Score by quarters
Arkadelphia 19 12 18 19 — 68
BRYANT 10 12 13 18 — 53
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Robinson 4-7 3-5 1-3 4 3 13
Dixon 3-10 0-2 0-0 0 2 8
Everett 3-6 1-2 4-6 10 3 7
Bledsoe 5-7 10-14 3-7 10 2 20
Mars.Arnold 4-7 4-7 3-5 8 3 12
Clayborn 1-2 0-0 0-2 2 3 3
Mark.Arnold 1-3 3-6 1-2 3 3 5
Means 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 2 0
Team 1-1 2
Totals 21-43 21-36 13-27 40 18 68
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Nossaman 1-4 1-2 1-2 3 5 4
Griffin 7-17 5-5 0-1 1 2 21
Cozart 3-10 0-0 0-3 3 1 8
Garner 3-9 0-0 2-1 3 4 6
Motto 1-2 1-3 0-2 2 4 3
Cambron 1-6 0-0 3-1 4 5 2
Bell 0-1 0-1 0-1 1 0 0
Moore 0-1 0-0 1-2 3 3 0
Neale 1-2 2-2 1-3 4 3 4
Trudell 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 5
Team 2-0 2
Totals 19-54 9-13 10-16 26 27 53
Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-17 (Griffin 2-5, Cozart 2-7, Nossaman 1-2, Trudell 1-1, Garner 0-2), Arkadelphia 5-16 (Dixon 2-9, Robinson 2-3, Clayborn 1-2, Bledsoe 0-1, Mark.Arnold 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 12, Arkadelphia 17.