For more photos of this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
It was beginning to look like the Bryant Hornets were going to turn the tables on the Cabot Panthers Friday night.
Earlier in the season when the two teams met at Cabot, the Hornets led most of the game only to have the Panthers rally in the fourth quarter for a 59-47 win. This time, it was Cabot that led most of the way and the Hornets who came roaring back after trailing by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter.
With 2:21 left to play, Treylon Payne hit a 3 that tied the game at 46. After Cabot’s Weston Vaught missed a contested layup, the Hornets had the chance to take a lead, but they turned the ball over and never got a shot.
With 1:31 showing, Cabot senior Seth Vance knocked down a 3-pointer and, though they had opportunities, the Hornets could not overcome that.
The Panthers left the door open when two trips to the free-throw line produced 1 point. But that free throw by Jackson Muse made it a two-possession lead. With :22 left, A.J. Jenkins followed his own miss for a bucket to make it 50-48 but the Hornets had to foul Muse again with :14.1 to go. This time, he converted twice to make it a two-possession game again and the Hornets couldn’t get a shot to go after that as the Panthers turned back the rally.
The Hornets remain a game ahead of the Panthers in the 6A-Central Conference standings at 7-5 to the Panthers 6-6. Both teams have league-leading North Little Rock on their schedule. Bryant closes out at home against Conway, which is currently tied for third with the Hornets. Cabot hosts second-place Fort Smith Northside before closing out at North Little Rock.
All of those teams, plus Little Rock Central have clinched bids to the 6A State Tournament, which Bryant will host. North Little Rock has sewn up the top seed but everything else is still to be determined over the last week of the regular season.
“We tried,” said Hornets coach Mike Abrahamson about the comeback. “We’ve got to make some shots. That would make things a lot better. I don’t know. We weren’t ourselves tonight. That’s probably why we weren’t making shots. And when you don’t make shots, it affects everything else.
“Somehow we came back to tie it up then we throw it right back to them,” he said.
“It’s like we practice one way every day, just about. We try to do certain things,” the coach related. “Then, we come out here the last two Fridays and we’re not doing what we practice. I’ve got to figure out why.”
Last Friday, the Hornets survived beating Central 52-48.
“Cabot’s tough,” Abrahamson acknowledged. “They’ve made it hard on us two times. We’ve scored 47 and 48 against them and that’s not going to cut it.”
Camren Hunter led all scorers with 23 points to go with 11 rebounds for the Hornets. Payne, who struggled from the field, particularly in the first half, managed 13 points. Jenkins had 8 but no one else had more that 2.
Jacob Hudson paced the Panthers with 17 points. Vance had 15, all in the second half.
Cabot established the lead early, building a 9-2 advantage. Hunter hit the first of his four 3’s but a follow shot by Hudson made it 11-5.
The game went back and forth for a while before Hudson hit a 3.
Hunter whittled on that advantage to close out the quarter with a basket as he was fouled then another triple.
It was 14-10 going into the second quarter.
The Hornets struggled to get clean looks against the Panthers’ defense. Despite playing on their home floor, the Hornets shot just three free throws in the game. Cabot was cited for 10 fouls total in the contest, just three in the second half.
The Panthers were 7 of 9 at the line with five of those attempts in the last minute.
Khasen Robinson started the scoring in the second quarter, hitting a floating jumper off a drive. A follow shot by Vaught made it 16-12 but then Payne tipped in the carom off his own miss and was fouled. He converted a free throw and it was a one-point game.
The Panthers scored the next 6 points to push the lead to 22-17 before a three-point play by Hunter made it a 2-point difference at the half.
Payne tied it early in the third quarter but, after Vance hit the first of his trio of treys, the Panthers were back on top. They never trailed again.
Cabot led 38-29 going into the fourth quarter and before one it was 42-31, their largest lead with 6:36 left to play.
Jumping into a trapping defense, the Hornets mounted their comeback. Hunter drove for a basket and, off a Cabot turnover, fired in a triple.
Hudson interrupted the run with a basket inside, but Hunter drained another 3 and, after another turnover, Payne drove for a basket to make it 44-41.
After a Panther timeout, Muse drove for a basket. But Hunter countered in kind, the Hornets forced turnover and Payne’s 3 tied it. It took almost two minutes before Bryant would score again.
PANTHERS 52, HORNETS 48
Score by quarters
Cabot 14 8 16 14 – 52
BRYANT 10 10 9 19 — 48
PANTHERS (16-9, 6-6) 52
Muse 1-5 3-4 5, Vance 6-9 0-0 15, Rosebaum 2-2 0-0 5, Hudson 8-14 0-0 17, Vaught 2-8 2-2 6, Bates 1-1 0-1 2, Roberts 0-2 2-2 2, Rainey 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 20-44 (45%) 7-9 (78%) 52.
HORNETS (15-10, 7-5) 48
Hunter 9-14 1-2 23, Payne 5-15 1-1 13, Schroeder 0-0 0-0 0, Jenkins 4-10 0-0 8, Diggins 1-3 0-0 2, Robinson 1-6 0-0 2, Adams 0-0 0-0 0, L.Newburn 0-1 0-0 0, Montgomery 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-49 (41%) 2-3 (67%) 48.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-22 (Hunter 4-5, Payne 2-9, Robinson 0-5, Jenkins 0-2, L.Newburn 0-1), Cabot 5-13 (Vance 3-4, Hudson 1-3, Rosebaum 1-1, Rainey 0-2, Muse 0-1, Vaught 0-1, Roberts 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 13, Cabot 11. Rebounds: Bryant 13-15 28 (Hunter 3-8 11, Payne 2-3 5, Jenkins 5-0 5, Diggins 1-1 2, Schroeder 0-1 1, Robinson 1-0 1, Adams 1-0 1, Montgomery 0-1 1, team 0-1 1), Cabot 10-14 24 (Hudson 2-5 7, Vaught 3-1 4, Roberts 1-2 3, Muse 0-2 2, Vance 1-1 2, Rosebaum 0-2 2, Bates 1-1 2, Rainey 1-0 1, team 1-0 1). Team fouls: Bryant 13, Cabot 10.