LITTLE ROCK — Desmond Duckworth poured in 26 points including 16 in the fourth quarter when[more] the Bryant Blue Hornets eighth grade team of Bethel Middle School rallied from a 32-27 deficit to win the championship of the Wildcat Shootout at Episcopal Collegiate Academy on Saturday. The result was a 47-43 victory over E Stem Charter School.
The Bryant Blue seventh grade team also competed for the tourney title in their division but ran into an undefeated host team, which handed them a 26-16 loss, just their second on the season.
The Bethel eighth grade team improved to 7-1 with its victory. Both teams will play again on Tuesday, Dec. 11, when they host Cabot North.
In the eighth grade final at Episcopal, the Hornets found themselves trailed 11-6 after a quarter, 24-12 at the half. They closed the gap in the third quarter then overcame the Mets down the stretch.
“We played an awful first half, scoring only 6 points each quarter,” said Hornets coach Derek McGrew. “We had a much better second half. E Stem is very similar to us, except that they are taller. E Stem took it at us and we could not buy a basket in the first half. We missed several point blank shots.”
Duckworth wound score 22 points in the second half. Calvin Allen finished with 9 points, Caylin Allen 8. Hunter Handly and Phillip Isom-Green finished with 2 each.
“I told them at halftime that we would either play a bad first half or a bad game and that it was up to them,” McGrew related. “I told them that I expected them to win the game and they responded. I’m real proud of their effort. Good teams respond to adversity.”
In the seventh grade game, the Hornets fell behind 11-0 by the end of the first quarter and trailed 22-3 at the half.
“I was proud of these boys for reaching the finals,” McGrew stated. “But we ran into a buzz saw. Episcopal is undefeated and has an outstanding player. They could have beaten us much worse. Both teams played second units throughout the second half.”
For Bethel, Myers Buck scored 6 points. Matthew Sandidge added 3 with Hunter Mullings, Sam Chumley and Parker Ray accounting for 2 points each. Jace Houston hit a free throw.