Charging Wildcats rush to victory over Hornets in freshman game

For more photos from this event by Kevin Nagle, go here

12-1roseshotknThe Bryant Hornets freshman team has shown they can play fast. Head coach Tyler Posey says he likes them to play “downhill” meaning he wants them aggressive on offense, attacking the basket with momentum (as in going down a literal hill). But, on Thursday night, the Hornets ran into a team that played even faster, attacking from the moment a rebound is collected. And they beat the Hornets down the court for layups on more occasions than Posey wanted to see.

Bryant’s bid to play aggressively on offense was thwarted somewhat by the physical nature of North Little Rock’s on-ball defense. The officials, working their third game of the night following a freshman girls game that had 46 fouls and 65 free throws, let the boys play and the Charging Wildcats took advantage for a 51-34 win that knocked the Hornets out of a three-way tie for first in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference standings. North Little Rock and Conway White, a 45-27 winner over Cabot North, are each 3-0 with Bryant, Russellville and Conway Blue at 2-1.

The Hornets travel to play Conway Blue on Monday.

That physical and aggressive Wildcats’ defense forced 25 Bryant turnovers. Along with 16 of their 30 rebounds on the offensive end, resulting in 19 more shots for North Little Rock.

12-1merriweatherknDevion Larff led the Wildcats with 12 points. Lamonte Boyd added 11. Both contributed to a 9-1 start that had the Hornets on their heels initially.

O.J. Newburn and Keith Merriweather Jr., who each finished with 7 points to pace the Hornets, got Bryant going. Newburn dished the Merriweather for the first Bryant field goal at the 4:06 mark of the first quarter. After a North Little Rock turnover, Darrick Rose knocked down a running jumper in the lane and, after an exchange of missed shots, Newburn spotted up and nailed a 3 to make it 9-8.

But the Hornets never were able to get even or take the lead.

North Little Rock pushed out to a 15-8 lead despite missing four free throws at the end of the quarter. And when D.J. Smith followed his own miss in the first minute of the second period, the margin was 9.

Kayleb West gave the Hornets boost with 5 quick points. His 3 came off a kick-out pass from Cade Drennan. He followed up with an offensive rebound bucket to make it 17-13.

12-1drennanknNorth Little Rock pushed the margin back out to double digits but Catrell Wallace hit a free throw, Ethan Hilkert canned an 8-footer and Merriweather converted once at the line to trim it back to 23-17.

Larff beat everyone downcourt for a layup but Hilkert answered with a driving jumper that made it 25-19.

Any momentum that the Hornets had mustered at that point was deflated when Spencer Simes beat the buzzer ending the half with a 3. And when Boyd got the first hoop of the second half, it was back to double-figures, 30-19.

The teams traded points before the Hornets went silent in the final minute of the third quarter. Tracy Steele drove for a basket for North Little Rock and, at the very end, with :01.2 showing on the clock, Smith was fouled and converted twice.

That gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the night at 38-24 going into the final six minutes.

Bryant scored 10 points in the fourth quarter on baskets by Merriweather, Newburn (a 3), Colby Washington and Ahmad Adams plus a free throw from Marqelle Barnes but they struggled to slow down the Wildcats who pushed the lead out to as much as 19 in the late going.

CHARGING WILDCATS 51, HORNETS 34

Score by quarters

NoLittle Rock  15       13       10       13 — 51

BRYANT          8          11       5          10 — 34

CHARGING WILDCATS 51

Larff 5-8 1-2 12, Smith 3-12 2-2 8, Simes 2-8 0-0 5, Boyd 5-5 1-2 11, Nieves 2-3 0-0 4, Rogers 0-0 0-0 0, Steele 3-7 0-4 6, Pitts 2-6 0-0 4, Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Beavers 0-0 1-4 1, Waters 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 22-53 5-14 51.

HORNETS 34

Rose 1-6 0-0 2, Merriweather 3-7 1-2 7, Newburn 2-4 1-3 7, Wallace 0-2 2-5 2, Hilkert 2-5 0-0 4, Barnes 0-0 3-4 3, C.Washington 1-3 0-0 2, Drennan 0-1 0-0 0, West 2-3 0-0 5, D.Washington 0-0 0-0 0, Adams 1-1 0-0 2, Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0, Scott 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-32 7-14 34.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-9 (Newburn 2-4, West 1-2, Merriweather 0-2, Rose 0-1), North Little Rock 2-7 (Simes 1-3, Larff 1-2, Smith 0-1, Waters 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 25, North Little Rock 12. Rebounds: Bryant 9-20 29 (Wallace 1-4 5, Barnes 1-3 4, Rose 1-2 3, C.Washington 3-0 3, Drennan 0-3 3, Newburn 1-1 2, Hilkert 1-1 2, West 1-0 1, D.Washington 0-1 1, Adams 0-1 1, Scott 0-1 1, team 0-3 3), North Little Rock 16-14 30 (Smith 5-1 6, Boyd 2-2 4, Nieves 1-3 4, Beavers 1-2 3, Larff 0-3 3, Rogers 2-0 2, Steele 1-1 2, Pitts 1-1 2, team 3-1 4). Team fouls: Bryant 14, North Little Rock 14.

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