By Rob Patrick
RUSSELLVILLE — With 3:03 to play, Jordan Griffin hit his second 3-pointer of the fourth[more] quarter, extending the Bryant Hornets’ lead over the Camden Fairview Cardinals to 42-39.
The Cardinals’ Bobby Easter missed a jump shot at the other end and the Hornets had a chance to make it a two-possession lead. But a turnover cost them and, with 2:18 left, Fairview’s Jamarcheon Smith went to the free-throw line and cut the lead to 1.
Still, the Hornets had the lead and the ball. Fairview had just three team fouls so, if Bryant could take care of the ball, it figured that the Cardinals would start fouling to get them in the bonus in case they couldn’t force some turnovers.
Fairview pressured the Hornets man-to-man after the free throws and, with 2:02 left, Bryant needed a timeout to save possession.
When play resumed, the Cardinals deployed in a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap. With 1:47 left, the Hornets took a timeout to help maintain a possession. But when play resumed, Fairview forced a turnovers.
Bryant sophomore C.J. Rainey made a nice play stealing the ball back but, moments later, got the ball under the basket and took a short shot but with a taller Fairview player between him and the goal, it was partically blocked and the Cardinals got the carom.
With 1:09 left, Bryant’s Brantley Cozart tried to set up and take a charge only to have the call go Fairview’s way. Fortunately, it came before a shot was attempted and the Hornets too had fouls to give.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Bryant’s Quinton Motto blocked a shot by Easter. The Hornets forced a held ball after the inbounds play but, as was the case repeatedly in those last three minutes, it didn’t go Bryant’s way. It was Fairview’s ball on the alternating possessions and, after a timeout with :45 left, the Cardinals’ 6-5 junior Ethan Lee who hit three 3’s, had two dunks and led all scorers with 20 points, hit a pair of free throws to give his team a 43-42 edge.
Bryant worked for an open look to regain the lead but when Griffin drove the lane, he was separated from the ball and hit the deck. Lee set sail on a runout and wound up jamming the ball home with :12 to go.
With :11.6 left to play and leading 45-42, the Cardinals called timeout to set up their defense. The Hornets worked for a shot but had the ball knocked out of bounds with :02.3 showing. During a timeout, Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson worked up a play for a last-second shot to try to tie it but Cozart’s rushed 3 from the corner wouldn’t go and, though he was knocked to the ground, on or after the shot, the game came to an end and Fairview had eked out a win.
As it turned out, the Hornets were unable to score over the final 3:03. Though they’d tried to spread the floor and get to the free-throw line in the late going, they never did. In fact, the game only included 16 free throws between the two teams — 10 of them attempted by Bryant.
With the loss, the Hornets were set to play in the consolation round of the tournament today at 4 p.m.
“A couple of turnovers and a bad shot where we get blocked which is just like a turnover,” Abrahamson recounted. “We’ve got the lead and we don’t get anything out of it. We didn’t get shots, we didn’t get free throws, we get turnovers. I think we’re better than that. I think we’re more experienced than that. We just didn’t execute.”
The Bryant fans on hand were not happy with the lack of calls down the stretch but Abrahamson wouldn't go there.
“You can’t count on the officials and you can’t blame the officials,” he said. “Every game there’s going to be calls you think should go the other way. We can’t control that. All we can control is what we can control. We can control blocking out. We can control decision-making. We can control our response to things. We can point the finger at them all we want, it’s not going to do us any good when we didn’t rebound well and turned the ball over when we have the lead, trying to win the game. That has nothing to do with officiating.
“It’s the way it’s going to be called in our league,” he noted. “It’s the way it’s going to be called every night. Every night you could blame the officials if you really want to but we’re not going to make excuses. We didn’t execute.”
The Hornets were out-rebounded 13 to 7 in the first half but committed just three turnovers while Fairview committed seven. In the second half, Bryant's rebounding improved, gaininig a 11 to 8 edge on the boards but 12 turnovers to Fairview's five made a difference.
The game was tight from start to finish. Bryant led early 7-4 on a post-up bucket by Zach Cambron, a 3 by Griffin off a nice kickout pass from Cambron then two free throws by Marcus Wilson.
But, on the strength of consecutive 3-pointers by Dominque Reed, the Cardinals went from 3 down to 3 up. A reverse layup by Motto made it 10-9 going into the second quarter.
Motto went on to score 8 more points in the second quarter. He had a stickback that gave the Hornets an 11-10 edge. Later, he scored inside to cut a 14-11 Fairview lead. Cotton scored on a follow shot but when Rainey canned a triple from the right corner, the game was even at 16.
Lee hit a 3 and, after Motto knocked down a 12-foot jay, Lee drove to the rack and came up with a three-point play at had his team up 22-18.
It was 24-20 before a pair of free throws out of four attempts by Jalen Hewett got the Hornets back within 24-22 at the intermission.
Lee drained another 3 to start the third quarter but two free throws by Griffin and a triple by Cozart had Bryant even. A basket by Fairview’s Derek Keaton inside had the Cardinals back up but a 3-pointer by Wilson who was also fouled gave the Hornets the lead.
And they held onto it for the rest of the quarter. Baskets by Griffin and Cozart produced the largest Bryant lead at 34-29 before Easter cut the margin to 3 going into the fourth quarter.
Smith hit a 3 to tie it but Griffin answered in kind to keep the Hornets up.
The game was tied at 37 and 39 before Griffin’s try from the corner with 3:03 to go set up the game-ending sequence of events that produced the disappointing conclusion for Bryant.
CAMDEN FAIRVIEW 45, BRYANT 42
Score by quarters
Camden Fairview 10 14 7 14 — 45
BRYANT 9 13 12 8 — 42
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Keaton 4-7 0-0 0-2 2 2 8
Brown 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Easter 3-10 0-1 2-3 5 2 6
Reed 2-7 0-0 0-0 0 0 6
Lee 7-12 3-3 1-2 3 2 20
Morehead 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 2 0
Davis 0-3 0-0 2-1 3 0 0
Smith 1-1 2-2 0-0 0 0 5
Mitchell 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Cooper 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 2-1 3
Totals 17-42 5-6 9-13 22 8 45
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Griffin 4-8 2-3 0-2 2 0 13
Cozart 2-6 0-0 0-1 1 2 5
Motto 5-7 0-0 0-6 6 1 10
Cambron 1-2 0-0 1-1 2 3 2
Wilson 1-3 2-3 1-0 1 0 5
Royal 0-0 0-0 1-0 1 0 0
Rainey 2-4 0-0 1-0 1 2 5
Black 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Trudell 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Hewett 0-0 2-4 0-4 4 1 2
Scoggins 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 0-3 3
Totals 15-32 6-10 4-17 21 10 42
Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-13 (Griffin 3-3, Cozart 1-4, Wilson 1-3, Rainey 1-2, Black 0-1), Camden Fairview 6-13 (Lee 3-4, Reed 2-5, Smith 1-1, Brown 0-1, Morehead 0-1, Davis 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Camden Fairview 12.