By Rob Patrick
PEARCY — In baseball, they call it a “comfortable collar.” It’s when a pitcher’s deliveries don’t[more] seem to be doing much yet when you look up after the game, he’s gotten you out every time and won the ballgame.
That’s kind of the way it goes for the Bryant Hornets freshman basketball team. They don’t seem to be doing anything spectacular. They’re not forcing a bunch of turnovers or getting a bunch of fast-break layups yet, as the game goes along, opponents find themselves trailing then doubled up and, when it’s all said and done, the Hornets have carved you up.
On Thursday, the Lake Hamilton Wolves lost to the Hornets for the third time this season, 32-19.
The Wolves didn’t break double figures until midway through the third quarter and Bryant went on to lead by as much as 17.
The Hornets improved to 13-4 overall and 3-0 in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference with a showdown against Conway White coming up on Monday, Jan. 24. They’ll be tying to avenge one of their four setbacks while extending their current win streak to eight straight.
K.J. Hill scored 19 points to lead the way. He also had a team-high six rebounds. Ryan Hall added 6 points and five boards with J.C. Newborn pitching in with 5 points and John Winn 2.
In addition, Hall and his teammates limited Lake Hamilton’s versatile post player Jason Burks to 8 points with half of that coming in the final stages of the game. No one else for the Wolves had more than 2 points.
“The kids did a really good job defensively,” said Hornets coach Jim Pennington. “I mean, we were really worried about the big kid (Burks). He’s had like 18 and 20 on us the two times that we’ve played. He’s really hurt us. Ryan Hall did a really good job battling him inside and he had good backside help. K.J. is beginning to give some backside help and it made all the difference in the world.”
The Hornets never trailed after Hill’s running jumper got things started. He and Newborn combined on a steal that produced Newborn’s first bucket and a 4-0 lead.
A free throw by Jacob Crumpler and a basket by Donnel West off his missed second toss had the Wolves within 4-3 but, for Bryant, Brandan Warner fed Hall for a basket. Hunter Daley answered for the Wolves then back-to-back baskets by Hill had the Hornets up 10-5.
Burks’ free throw made it a 4-point game going into the second quarter.
Lake Hamilton scored just 2 points in the second quarter and the patient Hornets pushed the advantage to 16-8 at the half, a run capped by a steal by Warner that led to a layup for Winn.
Newborn and Burks traded free throws to start the third quarter then when Hill got a layup off a back pick and a feed from Newborn, Bryant was up by 10.
“If we’re up 10, I usually feel pretty good,” Pennington allowed. “The kids take pretty good care of the ball.”
A three-point play by Hill and a basket by Hall pushed the lead to 13.
When Burks scored off an offensive rebound with 2:24 left in the third quarter, it marked the start of a long dryspell for the Wolves who couldn’t add to their total again until Burks hit the glass for a basket with 2:55 left in the game.
By then, Bryant had inexorably built a 30-13 lead.
“They did a good job,” Pennington said his players. “They hustled. We didn’t shoot the ball well outside but, if we ever do, we’re going to be dangerous.”
JUNIOR HORNETS 32, JUNIOR WOLVES 19
Score by quarter
BRYANT 10 6 10 6 — 32
Lake Hamilton 6 2 5 6 — 19
JUNIOR HORNETS 32
Hill 9-13 1-1 19, Winn 1-8 0-0 2, Warner 0-7 0-0 0, Newborn 2-2 1-2 5, Hall 2-2 2-2 6, Withers 0-0 0-0 0, Fisher 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-32 4-5 32.
JUNIOR WOLVES 19
Daley 1-5 0-0 2, Baldwin 1-9 0-2 2, Crumpler 0-0 1-2 1, West 1-3 0-0 2, Burns 3-4 2-5 8, Scott 0-0 0-0 0, Dailey 0-2 0-0 0, Daniel 1-1 0-0 2, Bullard 1-2 0-0 2, Woods 0-0 0-0 0, Britt 0-0 0-0 0, Burkes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 8-26 3-9 19.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 0-9 (Winn 0-5, Warner 0-3, Hill 0-1), Lake Hamilton 0-6 (Baldwin 0-3, Daley 0-2, Dailey 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 23 (Hill 6, Hall 5), Lake Hamilton 15 (West 6, Burks 4). Turnovers: Bryant 9, Lake Hamilton 13. Team fouls: Bryant 7, Lake Hamilton 12.