Clutch free throws by Billingsley help Hornets hang on against Lakeside

Freshman Hornets head coach Tyler Posey huddles up with his team. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

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

James Billingsley eyes one of his two free throws that secured the win for the freshman Hornets. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

The Bryant Hornets freshman team led by 10 points over the Hot Springs Lakeside Rams on Monday night only to see that margin whittled down to 2 in the final 20 seconds. The Hornets had repeated opportunities to fend off the Rams’ charge at the free throw line but came up empty on three trips to the stripe during the rally.

After Lakeside’s Charter Harris scored to get his team within 36-34 with :13 left, the Rams called a timeout to set up a press and a subsequent foul, in hopes the Hornets would continue to struggle at the line.

But, on the inbounds play, the Rams fouled James Billingsley who calmly walked to the other end and sank both free throws to give his team a two-possession lead with :08.6 showing.

Bryant head coach Tyler Posey took a timeout to remind his players not to foul as Lakeside tried to score at the end. A foul on a made 3 was the only way the Rams could extend the game.

Sure enough, Tyler Frederick beat the buzzer with a 3 but the Hornets avoided the foul and held on for a 38-37 win in their season-opener at the Bryant Classic, held at Bryant Junior High.

Darrell Wallace (25) goes high for the ball over Lakeside’s Braylon Russell (21), Charter Harris (23), Jacob Hermosillo (10) and Tyler Frederick (3). (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

“The only thing you can say about that game is that it was just a survival game there at the end,” said Posey. “We made a couple of plays down the stretch that just squeaked us through.

“We found a way,” he emphasized. “That’s a testament to these kids and how hard they work. They’re really competitive. That’s something we can take away from this game but we’re definitely not a finished product.”

Braylon Montgomery led the Hornets with 11 points. Ivory Gilmore came off the bench to score 9 on a trio of 3’s. Billingsley added 5.

“We don’t shoot the ball particularly well and, if we’re not out on the break, we do struggle to score sometimes,” said Posey. “Of course, we’re just four practices in. But it’s a good way to start. It’s at least a win even if it’s ugly. We can fix some of those things and work to get better on some of them.”
The Hornets play again on Thursday at 8:15 p.m., against the Vilonia Eagles to wrap up the Classic.

Though Lakeside had the better of it on the boards, sporting a tall starting five, the Hornets did force the Rams into 23 turnovers.

Jordan Knox (1) launches a shot over Lakeside’s A.J. Howard. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

The scoring troubles for Bryant showed up in the third quarter when they went 0-for-9 from the field after building a 10-point halftime lead. A free throw by Jordan Knox that gave the Hornets their largest lead (11 points) at the start of the third quarter, provided all the points they would manage in the period.

It enabled the Rams to whittle the lead to 27-24 going into the fourth quarter. It helped the Hornets that Lakeside missed all four free-throw opportunities.

“I’m concerned that we’re not moving the ball fast enough up the floor,” Posey said. “We’re a small team so I really want to get out on the break in the press. I don’t think we created enough deflections that could lead to a lot of turnovers that would get us some easy baskets.

“I was definitely not happy with the rebounding,” he said. “We got out-rebounded by 12. That’s not going to be good for us if we continue to do that.”

Bryant’s Darren Wallace and Lakeside’s Braylon Harris traded baskets to start the fourth. Gilmore, however, buried a 3 to start the Bryant surge. With 3:13 to play, the Rams called timeout as Montgomery was sent to the free-throw line. Despite the break, Montgomery sank both ends.

Ivory Gilmore hit a trio of 3’s for the Hornets. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Moments later, Jaylon Russ posted up for a bucket to make it 36-26. The Hornets forced a turnover but were unable to take advantage due to an empty trip to the line by Chris Gannaway.

Lakeside’s rally began with a layup by Russell with 1:44 to go. He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw. With 1:30 left, the Hornets missed the first end of a one-and-one.

Fredericks added a free throw moments later and, after a miss by Gilmore from the corner, hit a baseline jumper that trimmed the margin to 36-31.

Russ missed the front end of a one-and-one and Fredericks added another free throw to trim the margin to 4. 

With :22.8 showing, Knox missed two shots only to have Montgomery get the rebound. Lakeside, however, forced a turnover that led to Harris’ shot to cut the lead to 2, setting up the clutch free throws by Billingsley.

Braylon Montgomery (14) led the Hornets with 11 points. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

The Rams led early but when Billingsley hit a 3, Bryant had its first lead at 5-4. Harris, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds, scored off the offensive glass but that would be the last Lakeside lead.

Montgomery banked in a 10-footer and, off a turnover, Gannaway hit a layup to make it 9-6. Russell cut in with two free throws but when Montgomery scored off the offensive glass at the buzzer, the Hornets held a 12-8 lead.

It was 17-14 midway through the second quarter when the Hornets made a run. Gilmore canned a 3. Knox scored off a drive to the rack after a scramble, Russ got free on an inbounds play to make it 24-14.

The Rams turned the ball over then took a timeout. A layup by Wallace pushed the advantage to 12 before Harris scored in the final minute to make it a 10-point game at half.

Despite Bryant’s cold spell in the third quarter, the lead was never relinquished. 



Score by quarters

HS Lakeside     8          8          8          13 — 37

BRYANT           12        14        1          11 – 38


Frederick 4-11 4-6 13, Hermosillo 0-1 0-0 0, Russell 3-4 2-5 8, Harris 6-10 0-2 12, Howard 1-5 2-4 4, Douglas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-41 8-17 37.


Knox 1-5 1-4 3, Montgomery 4-4 2-2 11, Gannoway 1-5 0-5 2, Billingsley 1-5 2-2 5, Wallace 2-9 0-0 4, Russ 2-7 0-1 4, Gilmore 3-10 0-0 9. Totals 14-45 5-14 38.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-20 (Gilmore 3-9, Billingsley 1-5, Montgomery 1-1, Wallace 0-4, Knox 0-1), HS Lakeside 1-7 (Frederick 1-4, Russell 0-2, Hermosillo 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 15, HS Lakeside 18. Rebounds: Bryant 13-16 29 (Montgomery 4-3 7, Russ 1-5 6, Knox 1-3 4, Gilmore 2-1 3, Wallace 0-2 2, Gannaway 2-0 2, Billingsley 0-1 1, team 3-1 4), HS Lakeside 12-22 34 (Harris 4-7 11, Howard 4-4 8, Frederick 2-5 7, Russell 1-4 5, team 1-2 3). Team fouls: Bryant 16, HS Lakeside 13.

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