Photos by Kevin Nagle
In a nip-and-tuck game, the Bryant White Hornets eighth grade team of Bryant Middle School held a 20-18 lead midway through the third quarter. A free throw by Jake Forst and a driving layup by Tristan Calhoun had produced the advantage.
But when Graham Chenault drove for an answering bucket with 3:32 left in the period, it ignited a 12-2 run for the Benton Panthers.
The Hornets were unable to recover from that as the Panthers nailed down a 35-29 victory at the BMS gym on Thursday.
Chenault, who led all scorers with 14 points, converted 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to secure the win.
Bryant White was paced by Ja’Kalon Pittman’s 6 points. He also had a team-high seven rebounds.
“Nine different guys scored, so we did a really good job of moving the ball offensively,” said Hornets coach Heath Long. “On the other end, we defended pretty well, even though (Benton) ran a few actions that we weren’t familiar with.”
The Hornets forced 19 Benton turnovers but the Panthers forced Bryant into 25 while getting the better of it on the boards. Benton held just a 26-23 rebound advantage but 15 of those 26 came at the offensive end. Jarred Hastings collectd 10 rebounds to lead the team.
Bryant White opened the game with a 6-0 run. James Polite broke the ice with a free throw then Pittman scored inside. Polite made a steal, drove for a layup and completed the three-point play with 3:48 left in the first quarter.
But the Hornets didn’t score the rest of the period and the first half of the second.
Still, Benton didn’t get on the board until the 2:32 mark of the opening period when Connor Croft knocked down a short jumper. By the end of the quarter, however, the Panthers had taken an 8-6 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Clayton Maertens was at the line but missed both free throws. The Panthers rebounded the second miss, however, and Hastings cashed in, following his own initial miss. And, a minute later, when Dylan Robbins converted twice at the line, it was 12-6.
The Hornets broke their drought when Pittman rebounded a missed 3 off the hand of JonLuke Sprout and scored at the 3:16 mark.
That started a Bryant White surge. Grayson Prince grabbed an offensive board and scored then Calhoun made a steal and layup. That evened the score at 12. Hastings answered but a drive by Forst knotted it at 14.
The Panthers took the lead with Chenault’s driving jumper but when Sprout drained a 3 with :24 to go, the Hornets had a 17-16 halftime lead.
“We got a little rattled there in the first quarter against their pressure, but after a timeout we got settled down,” noted Long.
In the third quarter, Chenault’s reverse layup gave Benton the edge before Forst made a steal and hit a free throw to tie it and Calhoun gave Bryant what turned out to be its final lead with 4:50 left in the third.
Following Chenault’s drive to even it at 20, Maertens drilled a triple and Chenault followed up with a long-range bomb to make it 26-20.
Kaevon Jones interrupted the run to make it a 4-point game at the final break. But a free throw by Hastings and a trey by Maertens gave the Panthers their largest lead of the game to that point at 30-22.
Neither team scored after that for over three minutes before Prince went to the line and hit both ends of a one-and-one with 1:21 to go. Chenault’s run at the free-throw line began moments later.
“I’m disappointed that we lost, but there are a lot of things, both positive and negative, that we can learn from that will help us get better,” Long concluded.
The Hornets will return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at home against Conway White.
BENTON 35, BRYANT WHITE 29
Score by quarters
Benton 8 8 10 9 — 35
BRYANT WHITE 6 11 5 7 — 29
Chenault 4-7 5-6 14, Croft 1-1 0-0 2, Robbins 0-11 2-2 2, Blaylock 0-0 0-0 0, Peters 1-5 4-4 6, Hastings 2-5 1-3 5, Maertens 2-8 0-2 6, Hanley 0-0 0-0 0, Sherrill 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-37 12-17 35.
Calhoun 2-12 0-0 4, Forst 1-3 1-2 3, Sprout 1-3 0-0 3, Pittman 3-4 0-0 6, Ellis 0-1 2-2 2, Polite 1-3 2-3 4, Prince 1-1 0-0 2, Hopkins 0-0 0-0 0, Murray 0-1 0-0 0, Hill 0-0 0-0 0, Schmidt 1-1 0-0 3, Jones 1-1 0-0 2, Ash 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-30 5-7 29.
Three-point field goals: Bryant White 2-13 (Sprout 1-3, Schmidt 1-1, Calhoun 0-6, Forst 0-1, Polite 0-1, Murray 0-1), Benton 3-6 (Maertens 2-4, Chenault 1-2). Rebounds: Bryant White 23 (Pittman 7, Forst 6), Benton 26 (Hastings 10). Turnovers: Bryant White 25, Benton 19. Team fouls: Bryant White 15, Benton 14.