CONWAY — At halftime on Thursday night at Bolding Arena, the Bryant White Hornets eighth grade team looked like it might be heading to just its second loss in eight games this season. They trailed 11-4 at intermission.
But they came roaring back in the second half, outscoring the host Conway Blue Wampus Cats 24-5, to extract a 28-16 victory.
“We didn’t play very well overall, especially in the first half,” said Hornets coach Richard Wrightner. “We were not able to get any shots to fall. Mid-range shots, layups, floaters, free throws — nothing was falling for us. We took shots we wanted to take. We were able to drive and get to the basket, but they just wouldn’t fall for us.”
But the Hornets’ defense kept them in the game.
“Defensively, I think we played well in the first half,” Wrightner said. “We held a tough opponent to 11 points at the half, that’s what we wanted, but we only scored 4 points, which cannot happen.”
Bryant White was just 2 of 19 from the field in the first half. The Hornets missed all four of its free throws by intermission.
“I think the second half our guys did a great job finding that spark and attacking more,” the coach said. “We were able to draw fouls and get Conway into foul trouble early which forced them to back off some defensively because they were in the bonus late third quarter.”
The Hornets wound up 7 of 16 at the line in the second half. They shot better from the field as well, hitting 8 of 15 shots.
“I think we did a great job rebounding in the second half, getting second chance opportunities was huge,” said Wrightner. “We were able to put pressure on them once we made the game close and took the lead and we started to force some turnovers.”
Elem Shelby scored 16 points to go with four rebounds and two steals. All but 2 points of his total came in the second half.
Tristen Knox finished with 8 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Dylan Holman contributed 3 points and nine rebounds. Daniel Anderson had a game-high 10 boards to go with two steals.
Conway Blue still led but only 14-13 going into the fourth quarters. Bryant White held the Cats to just 2 points in the final stanza.
“I told my guys that Conway Blue was going to be tough,” Wrightner mentioned. “And they were, but we battled, made adjustments at the half, and found a way to grind it out, and I’m proud of our guys for that. We have three tough games next week. We’re going to have to play hard all four quarters.”
Bryant White plays at Benton on Monday then hosts Bryant Blue on Tuesday. Thursday the Hornets have a rematch with Lake Hamilton, the only team that has defeated them so far this seasons.