In a fast-paced contest, the Bryant Blue Hornets eighth grade team of Bethel Middle School held a 12-11 lead with 3:49 left in the first half thanks to a layup by Austin Schroeder. But the Cabot South Panthers eighth grade team put together a 10-0 run and the Hornets never quite recovered.
In the second half, the Panthers’ lead grew to as much as 16. Gamely, the Hornets rallied to get back within 8 late in the game only to run out of time, absorbing a 43-33 loss.
The result evened the Bryant Blue record at 4-4 going into a trip to the Anthony School in Little Rock on Thursday.
Brayden Godwin led the Hornets with 13 points, matching Cabot South’s Brayden Roberts for game-high honors. Schroeder and Hayden Schrader added 6 each for Bethel. Ryan Riggs scored 3 with Justin Orender and Jackson Lindsey pitching in with a basket apiece. Landon Nelson contributed a free throw.
Landon Meek added 9 for Cabot South. Evan Tonnessen scored 6.
The Hornets forced 22 turnovers in the game while committing just 12 but the Panthers made up the difference with a commanding performance on the boards, out-rebounding Bethel, 33-13.
The Panthers jumped out to a 6-1 lead before Riggs canned a 15-foot jumper for the Hornets’ first field goal at the 2:28 mark of the first quarter. Cabot South’s Conner Organ hit a free throw but when Schrader and Orender popped back-to-back hoops, it was tied 7-7 going into the final minute of the period.
The Panthers’ Wade Finley scored off the offensive glass at the buzzer to give his team a 2-point edge.
Godwin made a steal and got fouled early in the second stanza. He hit a free throw to cut into the margin. Moments later, he took a feed from Schroeder and scored to give the Hornets their first lead at 10-9 at the 4:36 mark of the quarter.
After a Cabot South timeout, Roberts converted twice at the free-throw line to put the Panthers back up. That’s when Schroeder got free for his layup to give the Hornets what proved to be their last lead.
The Panthers’ surge produced a 21-12 lead before Riggs hit a free throw with :35.1 left in the half.
Early baskets by Godwin and Lindsey had the Hornets within 25-17 in the third quarter but Cabot South scored the next 8 points to amass its largest lead of the game at 33-17.
Godwin’s three-point play got the Hornets back on track. He followed up with a steal and a layup to trim the margin to 11 and force a timeout. But Meek scored out of the timeout and, with Schroeder’s free throw in the final seconds, it was 35-23 going into the fourth quarter.
Another three-point play by Godwin followed up Roberts’ quarter-opening bucket inside. Hunter Smith answered to make it 39-26.
Bryant Blue’s final push started with free throws by Schrader and, moments later, a drive to the rack that made it 39-30. Roberts scored but missed a chance at a three-point play. With 1:19 to go, Schroeder drained a 3 to trim the lead to 8.
A late basket off the offensive boards by Meek set the final score.