The Bryant Blue Hornets eighth grade basketball team of Bethel Middle School opened the 2013-14 season Monday night with a home win over EStem Mets of Little Rock, 26-14.
Meanwhile, the Bethel seventh grade team absorbed a tough 36-32 loss in overtime.
Both squads are set to participate in this evening’s Tip Off Night event. The eighth grade team returns to action against Watson Chapel on Thursday. The seventh grade squad plays next at a tournament at The Anthony School in Little Rock, starting Monday, Nov. 18. The Hornets take on Arkansas Baptist at 6:30 p.m.
The Hornets won the eighth grade game against EStem short-handed.
“We only dressed eight for the game,” noted head coach Derek McGrew. “Three starters are out with injuries and disciplinary reasons. One is out 4 to 6 weeks with a broken wrist. One is out two weeks with a strained knee.
“We played very good defense and had a tremendous effort,” he asserted.
The Mets held a 4-3 lead after a quarter but Bethel surged in the second quarter to build a 9-6 edge. The Hornets took control in the third quarter and took a 19-10 lead into the final stanza.
Keith West paced Bethel with 8 points. Luke Curtis added 7, Brandon Shirlee 5, Preston Kyzer 4 and Matthew Sandidge 2.
In the seventh-grade game, Tyler O’Neil and Randy Thomas each scored 10 points. Josh Robinson pitched in with 4. Henry Terry scored 3, Alex Blair and Andrew Lorio 2 each and Will McEntire 1.
“This team is very athletic,” McGrew said. “I expect great things from them. First-game jitters showed and we played a good team. They started two boys over 6-2 and had a good guard.
“We were 5 of 19 from the free throw line and that hurt us along with numerous missed easy shots and turnovers,” he added. “We should show much improvement every time we play.”
The Hornets grabbed a 5-2 lead in the first quarter but trailed 11-9 at the half. By the time the third quarter was over, they’d surged to a 19-16 advantage but the game went into overtime when regulation ended with the teams deadlocked at 26.