By Rob Patrick
RUSSELLVILLE — With his inside duo of Quinton Motto and Zach Cambron hampered by[more] foul trouble and a deficit to make up, Bryant Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson went to a smaller lineup and urged his team to get after it on defense against the Mountain Home Bombers Friday. And the Hornets scrapped and clawed their way back.
After trailing 26-19 midway through the third quarter, they gained a 32-31 lead in the first minute of the fourth period when sophomore Anthony Black made a steal and senior Brantley Cozart followed his miss with a basket.
But, over the next three and a half minutes of the game, scrap as they might, the Hornets just couldn’t get shots to fall. And, by making 14 of 18 free throws in the final quarter, the Bombers regained the lead and, in the final 2:30, turned a three-point game into a 51-40 victory.
Mountain Home advanced to play in the consolation final today at 3:30 p.m., while the Hornets hope to salvage a game in the 2011 Cyclone Classic in a 2 p.m. contest.
After Cozart put Bryant ahead, Black made another steal — one of seven turnovers in the final quarter and 19 for the game that Bryant forced Mountain Home to commit. But Greyson Giles couldn’t get a running jumper to fall and, moments later, Bombers’ point guard Buck Gilbert began his team’s procession to the free-throw stripe.
Motto, back in the game, drove to the basket but was cited for charging, his fourth foul — a play that could’ve gone either way but, on this day, invariably went against Bryant.
But Black and Marcus Wilson combined for force a turnover to give the Hornets another chance to regain the lead. Cozart’s 3 rimmed out, however.
Another Mountain Home turnover produced a third chance for Bryant to push back to the top. But Jordan Griffin’s jumper off a drive into the lane wouldn’t go and, with 6:08 to play, Mountain Home’s Trey Killian was sent to the line.
It was a common theme all night. Mountain Home shot 34 free throws — admittedly a few late when the Hornets were forced to foul — while Bryant attempted just 14 despite the fact that, much of the game, the Hornets were trying to penetrate the Mountain Home defense and score, get to the line or both. The Bombers were cited for 11 fouls, Bryant a whopping 29.
After Killian converted twice to extend his team’s lead to 35-32, the Hornets had three straight possession in which 3-pointers would not go down. Killian added two more free throws along the way and the Bombers had a chance to increase the 5-point edge but, again Black made a steal and, this time, Wilson cashed in with a layup to make it 37-34.
But that’s as close as Bryant could get. With 2:30 left, Griffin countered a free throw by Mountain Home’s Kaden Crow with a pair from the line and the Hornets were once again within a 3-pointer of tying.
They would be unable to score again, however, until Griffin hit a 3 with :12 left. By then, Mountain Home had turned that three-point margin into a 12-point bulge.
The Hornets hit just 27 percent from the field in the game (12 of 45) yet had a chance until that late drought. Cozart led all scorers with 17 points. Griffin finished with 11. But no one else had more than C.J. Rainey’s 5. Motto played so little and was limited by his foul trouble that he finished with just 1 point and three rebounds after he’d gone for 10 and six on Thursday against Camden Fairview.
Cambron, who was cited for offensive fouls in both games while just trying to make a post-up move, played little more than Motto and was held scoreless with one board.
Meanwhile, Killian finished with 16 points including 11 of 12 at the line. Jack Schmidt added 12 to go with nine rebounds.
Neither team burned up the nets early. Mountain Home held a 6-2 lead after the first quarter as the two teams combined to go 3 of 18 from the field in the opening stanza.
A driving jumper from 12 feet by Cozart and a 3-pointer by Rainey had the Hornets up 7-6 early in the second period. The lead seesawed until Gilbert hit a 3 and Griffin countered with a pair of free throws to tie it 13-13 midway through the period.
But the Hornets managed just one free throw by Cozart of the final four minutes of the half and the Bombers took advantage, building a 21-14 lead at the half.
Though Bryant cut into the lead in the third quarter, with 4:31 left, Mountain Home held a 26-19 lead, the same difference as the halftime score.
The Bombers had a chance to increase it further but a turnover was cashed in by Jalen Hewett on a layup. Mountain Home’s Billey Waymeyer hit a free throw but, at the other end, Hewett scored off the offensive glass. And when another turnover led to a trip to the line for Cozart, he trimmed the margin to 27-25.
Killian drove for a layup with 1:42 left but when Cozart drained a trey seconds later, the Hornets were within a point, 29-28. Schmidt scored and Griffin hit two free throws to keep it a one-point game going into the fourth quarter.
Black’s steal and Cozart’s stickback had the Hornets ahead with 7:28 left in the game.
BOMBERS 51, HORNETS 40
Score by quarters
Mountain Home 6 15 10 20 — 51
BRYANT 2 12 16 10 — 40
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Gilbert 1-3 4-5 0-1 1 1 7
Morgan 2-6 2-2 2-4 6 1 6
Schmidt 5-7 2-6 3-6 9 3 12
Waymeyer 1-3 1-4 1-7 8 2 4
Killian 2-10 11-12 0-3 3 2 16
Yancey 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 2 0
Crow 2-4 2-5 3-0 3 0 6
Crawford 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Team 0-5 5
Totals 13-34 22-34 10-27 37 11 51
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Griffin 2-11 6-6 0-2 2 4 11
Cozart 6-16 3-4 2-3 5 0 17
Wilson 1-1 0-0 0-3 3 3 2
Motto 0-3 1-2 1-2 3 5 1
Cambron 0-3 0-0 1-0 1 2 0
Hewett 2-3 0-0 2-3 5 3 4
Rainey 1-2 2-2 0-0 0 3 5
Black 0-5 0-0 0-0 0 4 0
Royal 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 3 0
Rayburn 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Reed 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 2 0
Giles 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Team 0-2 2
Totals 12-45 12-14 6-17 23 29 40
Three-point field goals: Bryant 4-18 (Cozart 2-9, Griffin 1-5, Rainey 1-2, Hewett 0-1, Black 0-1), Mountain Home 3-10 (Killian 1-6, Gilbert 1-3, Waymeyer 1-1). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Mountain Home 19.