Charging Wildcats hang on to get past Bryant freshmen

Photos by Kevin Nagle

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — When the Bryant Hornets and the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats freshman teams squared off at Bryant Middle School gym on Dec. 12, the video after the game showed that the Hornets had won the game on a last-second shot. But that shot in real time was waved off as too late by the officials. The game went into overtime and North Little Rock escaped with a 45-44 win.

Calvin Allen (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Calvin Allen (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Fortunately, that was a non-conference meeting.

In the league tilt held Thursday night at the North Little Rock East gym, the Hornets had a shot at a little payback along with an opportunity to pull even with the Charging Wildcats and the Lake Hamilton Wolves on top of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference standings.

But the Hornets appeared to be taken aback at the outset by the rugged nature of the contest. North Little Rock rushed to an 11-2 lead before they could get their feet under them. Though Bryant outscored the Cats the rest of the way, that opening salvo helped North Little Rock forge a 39-32 win.

The Charging Wildcats and the Wolves remain tied for first at 5-1 going into the final week of the regular season. Bryant is now 4-2 with losses to both of those teams. The Hornets are tied for third with Conway White with games at Little Rock Catholic (on Monday, Feb. 10) and at home against Conway Blue (Thursday, Feb. 13) left to play before the CAJHC post-season tournament starting Feb. 17.

No doubt, the Hornets wouldn’t mind another crack at North Little Rock, Lake Hamilton or both at the tourney.

Though 3-3 in the league, Conway Blue is the lone team to defeat North Little Rock this season. Lake Hamilton’s only loss was to the Charging Wildcats.

Bryant shot just 1 of 10 from the field in the first quarter and wound up 10 of 39 (26 percent) for the game. Uncharacteristically, they managed to hit just one of nine 3-pointers.

North Little Rock was only marginally better from the field at 15 of 38 (39 percent) overall, but the Cats were at 50 percent in the first half. And they out-rebounded the Hornets 32-21.

Inside strongman Larry Hatchett III led North Little Rock with 14 points. Point guard Calvin Allen paced the Hornets with 13. But Hatchett was augmented by Deion Dobbins’ 9 points and Taleh Wade 6. Though eight other Hornets scored, no one had more than Kyle Sahr’s 4.

Trey Ashmore, left, and Jonathan Allen try to stop North Little Rock's Larry Hatchett. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Trey Ashmore, left, and Jonathan Allen try to stop North Little Rock’s Larry Hatchett. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Caylin Allen had the only 2 points for Bryant in the opening blitz for North Little Rock. His two free throws made it 5-2 with 3:00 left in the first quarter. The Hornets didn’t manage a field goal until Sahr scored off an inbounds play with :32 left in the period, cutting into the 11-2 margin.

Trey Ashmore hit a short jumper off a feed from Hunter Handly to start the second period and, after Wade hit a 3, Handly canned a short jumper. The Hornets got a gift when Hatchett, following a teammate’s basket, grabbed the rim and held on. That not only wiped out the field goal but sent the Hornets to the line shooting technical free throws. Calvin Allen hit those and Bryant was awarded the ball. But the Hornets turned it over.

With 4:03 left, however, Handly was fouled and sent to the line. Though he missed both shots, Brandon Harris rebounded and got the ball back to him. Handly’s follow was rejected as he was knocked to the ground and, at the other end, Dobbins scored off the offensive glass.

North Little Rock pushed out to a 21-13 lead going into the final seconds but Calvin Allen drained a 3 at the buzzer to make it a 5-point game at the half.

The two teams traded baskets in the third quarter with Marvin Moody, Jonathan Allen and Harris providing the points for the Hornets. It was 28-22 going into the fourth quarter.

Scrambling and pressing, the Hornets forced eight of North Little Rock’s 18 turnovers down the stretch. Calvin Allen hit a pair of free throws with 5:32 left. Moments later, Garrett Cowart made a steal and pushed the ball ahead to Kaleb Turner for a layup that cut the lead to 28-26.

Kyle Sahr attempts a jumper over North Little Rock's Taleh Wade. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Kyle Sahr attempts a jumper over North Little Rock’s Taleh Wade. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Wade added a free throw for the Wildcats’ first points of the fourth quarter at the 4:10 mark. That ended a drought of nearly six minutes for North Little Rock.

After a Bryant miss, Calvin Allen made a steal and layup and, with 3:33 to go, the Hornets had whittled the lead to 1, 29-28.

But Bryant went into its own dry spell at that point as the game’s physical nature was ratcheted up even more. It was 30-28 going into the final three minutes. With 2:43 left, Gordon went to the line for North Little Rock and missed. But somehow he was able to get the rebound and, with 2:38 to go, Wade was sent to the line. He hit his first shot but on the missed second try, Hatchett rebounded and scored to bump the lead to 33-28.

After a Bryant turnover, Calvin Allen made another steal. He was fouled at the other end and converted twice to make it 33-30. Hatchett, in the game despite four fouls, answered with a strong post-up move at the other end. In turn, the Hornets had two chances to keep pace only to miss both shots.

A layup on the other end made it 37-30 with 1:17 to go.

After a timeout, Sahr canned a 12-foot jumper to cut it to 5. Wade misfired and Cowart rebounded pushing the ball upcourt to Calvin Allen who was hammered to the floor on his shot attempt with :43.8 to go. Shaken, he stayed in the game to shoot his free throws. Both were off but Turner scrambled for the rebound. His follow missed. Calvin Allen made another steal and Turner got a look at a 3 but it refused to fall.

A flying layup by Dobbins with :15 to go sealed the win for the Charging Wildcats.


Score by quarters

BRYANT          4          12       6          10 — 32

NLR                 11       10       7          11 — 39


Cal.Allen 2-4 8-10 13, Cay.Allen 0-2 2-2 2, J.Allen 1-4 0-0 2, Moody 1-4 0-0 2, Sahr 2-5 0-0 4, Harris 1-6 0-0 2, Turner 1-6 0-0 2, Handly 1-2 0-2 2, Ashmore 1-3 0-0 2, Cowart 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 10-39 11-16 32.


Ricks 0-4 2-4 2, Wade 1-5 3-6 6, Walker 2-6 0-0 4, Hatchett 6-9 2-4 14, Dobbins 4-9 1-1 9, Howard 2-4 0-0 4, Cox 0-0 0-0 0, Gordon 0-0 0-1 0, Giles 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 15-38 8-16 39.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-9 (Cal.Allen 1-1, Turner 0-5, Harris 0-2, Cay.Allen 0-1), North Little Rock 1-5 (Wade 1-3, Walker 0-1, Dobbins 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 21 (Moody, Sahr, Cal.Allen 3), North Little Rock 32 (Walker 6). Turnovers: Bryant 16, North Little Rock 18. Team fouls: Bryant 14, North Little Rock 16. Fouled out: Bryant, Moody. Technical fouls: Bryant, bench, Moody; North Little Rock, Hatchett.

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