The Lady Hamilton Wolves missed just enough free throws in the final three minutes to keep the hopes of the Bryant Hornets freshman team alive. But, as it turned out, the Wolves made just enough to put away a 34-26 win at Bryant Middle School gym.
Lake Hamilton wound up 15 of 22 from the free-throw line. Bryant, on the other hand, shot just one. Admittedly, the Hornets mostly attempted jump shots and didn’t attack the basket quite as often as their rival, but the Wolves were cited for only four fouls in the entire game.
Still, with three minutes left in the game, the two teams were tied 26-26. Bryant’s Brooks Ellis had just scored back-to-back hoops, the first off a nice high-low feed from Luke Curtis, the second a layup after teammate Brandon Murray had made a steal.
And the Hornets nearly forced a 10-second violation with their press at that point only to have Lake Hamilton get a timeout just in the nick of time to avoid it. When play resumed, the Wolves missed a shot, giving Bryant a chance to take the lead. But a turnover cost them the opportunity.
With 2:51 left, a Lake Hamilton shooter was fouled on a 3-point try. He hit two of the free throws to break the deadlock and start an 8-0 closing run, all from the free-throw line.
A 3-point try that would’ve given the Hornets the lead refused to fall and, as Lake Hamilton was coming up the court on offense, one of the Bryant players was hit with a technical.
The Wolves got two free throws to go, making it 30-26. They were rewarded possession but Sam Chumley and Curtis combined to force a turnover. But the resulting chance to close the gap was undermined by a turnover in return.
Lake Hamilton supplied another opportunity for Bryant to cut into the margin when a bonus trip to the line came up empty. But, again, the Hornets turned it over.
A free throw with :43 to go increased the margin to 5. At the other end, Chumley had a shot blocked. Another foul with :31 left, became another empty trip for the Wolves but Bryant couldn’t take advantage.
Another Hornet was given a technical on the heels of a common foul with :19.7 to go. The Wolves converted 3 of 4 free throws to set the final score.
Chumley and Ellis led Bryant with 8 points each. Tristan Calhoun added six with Brandon Hill and Malcolm Moody scoring 2 apiece.
Bryant’s only lead was 3-1 after Chumley hit a 3 early in the contest. Ellis, off a feed from Curtis, tied it at 5 with 3:02 left in the first quarter but the Wolves scored the next 6 points.
Moody scored and was fouled with :15.8 remaining. In what turned out to be the only Bryant free-throw attempt of the game, he was unable to convert and it was 11-7 going into the second stanza.
A jump hook with his off hand by Ellis, a 3 by Calhoun and a 15-footer by Hill kept the Hornets close. They trailed 17-14 at the half.
But Bryant didn’t score again until Chumley grabbed an offensive rebound and stuck it back in with 1:39 left in the third quarter. Fortunately, the Wolves hadn’t been able to open up a big lead. And when Chumley followed up with a 3 in the final seconds of the period, Bryant was back within 22-19.
Calhoun’s second triple opened the fourth quarter, tying it at 22. Lake Hamilton regained the lead before Ellis’ baskets pulled the Hornets even at 26.
Bryant plays again this Thursday at North Little Rock.