By Rob Patrick
VILONIA — After going almost seven minutes with just three free throws to show for it, the Bryant Hornets freshman team trailed the Vilonia Junior Eagles, 28-22, with just 2:20 left in their game on Thursday night.
The Eagles had frustrated the Hornets with a patient offense and a solid zone defense that stifled not only the[more] scoring opportunities for Bryant but kept them from jumping into their full-court pressure defense.
But when Greyson Giles came through with a three-point play on a baseline drive with 2:14 left, the Hornets created a crack in the Eagles’ wall. With a furious rally that produced five turnovers, Bryant finished on a 15-1 run that produced a 37-29 victory.
The Bryant team includes Phillip Barnett, Dakota Besancon, Chase Christie, Brandon Cranford, Cedarrian Crosby, Evan Davis, Trevor Ezell, Greyson Giles, T.J. Hall, Austin Hammonds, Hunter Holder, Matt Jernigan, Spencer Kilgore, Slade Lewis, Madre London, Dylan Masters, Davis Nossaman, Gray Orman, Garrett Phillips, C.J. Rainey, Brian Reed, Mitchell Scoggins, Caleb Strain and Christian Washington.
“I wish we could play with that kind of intensity the entire game,” stated Hornets coach Steve Wilson, a Vilonia High School alum. “They did a good job of slowing us down and controlling it.
“I’d been told that if the game was in the 20’s, we’d be in trouble,” he mentioned. “And most of the game, it was. We really weren’t creating as many turnovers off our press. We weren’t scoring to set up in our press. I wish we’d have gotten the transition game going a little bit more but they really controlled the ball and they did a good job. That’s their game plan and they do a good job of executing it. We were just able to get them out of it there at the very end.
“And that’s the thing,” he concluded, “we found that one bit of break and we really keyed on it. I wish we could’ve found it a little earlier but it’s better late than never.”
The win improved the Hornets to 7-4 on the season heading into the Christmas break. They’ll return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 29, in the first round of the Kameron Hale Invitational Tournament at Lake Hamilton. They’ll take on Arkadelphia at 11:15 a.m.
At Vilonia, Giles’ three-point play was followed by the first of that string of turnovers. London scored and was fouled. Though he was unable to convert the free throw, Crosby forced a turnover and got the ball back to London for a basket inside that gave the Hornets a 29-28 lead.
After a timeout, Vilonia worked the ball to Nathan Taylor who was fouled driving the paint with 1:47 to go. He converted once to tie the game and get the Eagles’ back in sync. They dropped back into their zone and the Hornets had to patiently work the ball on the perimeter until with :41 left, Giles launched a 3. And, though he had missed five previous long-range attempts, he got this one to go, making it 32-29.
The Hornets jumped back into their press and forced another turnover. With :26.4 showing, Ezell was fouled. He converted the first shot then London made a steal and drove to the other end where he was fouled intentionally going up for the shot. Though he landed hard on his hip, he got up and converted both shots.
And the Hornets got the ball on the baseline, running an inbounds play that got a good look inside for Scoggins who converted to seal the victory.
Giles finished with 13 points, London 11 and Scoggins 4. Christie and Scoggins each had six rebounds. Taylor had 8 points and eight boards for Vilonia. Jordan Anderson added 10 points.
Christie and Scoggins worked a high-low play for the first basket of the game less than a minute in and it stayed 2-0 until the final 30 seconds of the first quarter. A free throw by Vilonia’s Mason McFarron made it 2-1. His second shot missed but Anderson, later, got a tip in at the buzzer to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead going into the second quarter.
London scored early in the second but then Vilonia built a 7-4 lead. A 3 by Holder tied it then the teams traded the lead with Bryant winding up with a 12-10 edge at intermission.
Anderson, however, scored the first two baskets of the third quarter to put his team up. Giles answered with a drive from the left wing then Christie nailed a 3. At the other end, Christie rejected a shot by Anderson, Scoggins rebounded and Giles scored at the other end to make it a 19-14 Bryant lead.
That’s when Bryant’s drought began. Over the next seven minutes, Giles and Reed hit free throws as Vilonia surged into the lead. A steal and layup by Taylor at the end of the third quarter trimmed the Hornets’ lead to 21-20. And when Jake Fisher scored to start the final six minutes, the Eagles had the lead. Aaron Newell added free throws and Anderson scored to make it 26-21.
Reed interrupted with a free throw but a stickback by Taylor had the Eagles up 28-22 with 2:27 to play.
BRYANT 37, VILONIA 29
Score by quarters
BRYANT 2 10 9 16 — 37
Vilonia 3 7 10 9 — 29
Ezell 0-2 1-2 1, Strain 0-1 0-0 0, Giles 5-14 2-4 13, Christie 1-4 0-0 3, Scoggins 2-4 0-0 4, Reed 0-0 2-4 2, Crosby 0-0 0-0 0, Kilgore 0-0 0-0 0, Orman 0-1 0-0 0, London 4-8 3-6 11, Holder 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 13-38 8-16 37.
Wilkins 1-3 0-0 2, Newell 0-3 3-4 3, Taylor 2-5 4-6 8, Moore 0-1 0-2 0, Anderson 4-9 2-2 10, McFerron 1-3 1-2 3, Fisher 1-2 1-2 3, Madden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-26 11-18 29.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-13 (Giles 1-6, Holder 1-2, Christie 1-1, Ezell 0-2, Strain 0-1, Orman 0-1), Vilonia 0-3 (Newell 0-1, Anderson 0-1, McFerron 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 26 (Christie, Scoggins 6), Vilonia 24 (Taylor 8). Turnovers: Bryant 9, Vilonia 14. Team fouls: Bryant 14, Vilonia 13. Fouled out: Vilonia, Anderson.