You can’t always look at the records and figure out a basketball game.
A fired-up Cabot South Panthers team, coming in with a 1-5 record in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference, took it to the Bryant Hornets freshman team, which came in with a 5-1 mark, early on in their league game Tuesday night at the Bryant Middle School gym.
The Panthers rushed to an 8-0 lead and held a 15-2 advantage before the Hornets seemed to settle in. Cabot South led 17-6 at the half. Bryant came out with more energy in the second half and made a push but key baskets by Cabot South’s Weston Vaught helped fend off the rally as the Panthers stunned the Hornets 39-29.
Bryant came into the game with five wins in its last six games. Now 8-6 overall, the Hornets will try to bounce back at home against Conway White on Thursday. Bryant, Conway White and Conway Blue are now tied for second in the CAJHC with 5-2 marks. North Little Rock leads with a 7-0 record.
Tuesday’s game was a make-up date. Originally set for Dec. 15, the game was moved due to semester testing at Cabot.
Vaught finished with a game-high 13 points. The Hornets were paced by Marqelle Barnes and Catrell Wallace. Each had 6 points.
The focused Panthers shot 50 percent from the floor (16 of 32) while the Hornets shot 33 percent (12 of 36) including 1 of 13 from 3-point range.
Bryant’s lone basket in the first quarter was a short jumper by Ethan Hilkert off a feed from Kayleb West with 1:15 left. The Hornets didn’t score again until Keith Merriweather Jr. knocked down a 12-footer with just :48 left in the half.
After that, Seth Vance for the Panthers and Wallace traded baskets to set the halftime score.
Daniel Washington scored first in the second half to give the Hornets some momentum. Rhett Thurman answered inside for the Panthers. Vaught hit a free throw to make it 20-8 but Wallace hit the offensive glass for a basket. The Hornets, forced a turnover with their active pressure defense and Barnes cashed in with hard drive to the rim.
Cabot South called a timeout at that point as it appeared the Hornets were building momentum, trailing by just 8. When play resumed, the Hornets nearly stole the ball a couple of times before Vaught made a tough turnaround jumper to steady his team.
Hilkert hit a free throw and, moments later, Barnes scored again off a drive and the Hornets were within 22-15. They forced a Cabot South miss but there was Vaught to score off the offensive glass. Wallace did the same at the other end to make it 24-17 with just 56 seconds left in the third quarter.
Vaught scored again and, when Vance hit the boards for a bucket with :26 showing, the Panthers held a 28-17 lead going into the fourth quarter.
A steal by Cade Drennan led to his 3-pointer off a kick-out pass from Barnes in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. The lead was back to just 8 but Cabot South’s Caleb Miller drained a 3 in response and Bryant was never that close again.
Barnes’ layup made it 31-22 but a stickback by Hunter Horka had the lead at 11 to 4:26 left. The Hornets had two chances to answer but came up empty.
Cabot South called timeout with 3:37 left and when play resumed, they had six players on the court as the official handed the ball to the Panthers for inbounding. But another official stopped play and allowed one of the Cabot players to leave the floor. Bryant head coach Tyler Posey insisted that it should’ve been a technical against the Panthers but, even after a deliberation among the three officials, none was forthcoming.
That stung even more when Vaught drove for a basket. So the Panthers had 2 points instead of the Hornets getting free throws and possession.
The Hornets had other chances along the way but a 4 for 14 performance at the free-throw line including just 3 of 8 in the fourth quarter, undermined their effort.
PANTHERS 39, HORNETS 29
Score by quarters
Cabot South 10 7 11 11 — 39
BRYANT 2 4 11 12 — 29
Vance 2-8 0-0 4, Muse 1-5 3-5 5, Thurman 2-3 0-0 4, Vaught 6-10 1-2 13, Horka 3-4 1-2 7, Miller 2-2 0-0 6, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-32 5-9 39.
Rose 1-5 2-2 4, Merriweather 2-9 0-2 4, Barnes 3-3 0-0 6, D.Washington 1-3 0-0 2, Wallace 3-3 0-0 6, Herron 0-1 0-0 0, West 0-2 0-0 0, Hilkert 1-4 2-8 4, C.Washington 0-1 0-2 0, Newburn 0-3 0-0 0, Drennan 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 12-36 4-14 29.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-13 (Drennan 1-1, Merriweather 0-6, Newburn 0-3, Rose 0-1, West 0-1, Hilkert 0-1), Cabot South 2-8 (Miller 2-2, Vance 0-5, Thurman 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 10, Cabot South 15. Rebounds: Bryant 10-12 22 (Wallace 3-4 7, Rose 1-2 3, Merriweather 1-2 3, Herron 1-1 2, Hilkert 1-1 2, Barnes 0-1 1, D.Washington 1-0 1, West 1-0 1, C.Washington 1-0 1, Drennan 0-1 1), Cabot South 8-19 27 (Muse 2-5 7, Vaught 1-4 5, Horka 2-3 5, Smith 0-4 4, Vance 1-0 1, Thurman 0-1 1, team 2-2 4). Team fouls: Bryant 8, Cabot South 12.