Clutch play down the stretch keys freshman Hornets’ victory

File photo by Kevin Nagle

After the Bryant Hornets freshman team and the Conway White Wampus Cats traded leads for the first three quarters, they found themselves even at 33-33 with under four minutes left in their showdown at the Bryant Middle School gym.

Gavin Burton drained a long 3-pointer to lift the Hornets into the lead then, every time the Wampus Cats threatened to regain the upper hand, Bryant had an answer.

When the Hornets’ lead was just 36-35, Isiah Kearney stepped up with a clutch 3.

The teams traded turnovers before, with 1:14 left to play, Conway White stayed close with a pair of free throws and called a timeout.

When play resumed, Bryant’s Gabe George, who had been quieted after a 12-point barrage in the first quarter, drove the left side of the lane, scored and was fouled with 1:00 showing.

Though he missed the free throw and Conway White scored again to stay within 41-39 with :41 left, Kearney converted both ends of a one-and-one with :26.6 left and it held up for a 43-39 victory Thursday night.

Bryant improved to 5-3 on the season going into a battle at Benton on Monday. Conway White came in considered to be among the top teams in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference.

“They are,” acknowledged Hornets coach Tyler Posey. “They’re a very good team.”

So that makes Bryant one of the best teams in the league too, right?

“I hope so,” Posey allowed. “We’ve still got a lot to work on and improve on but I’m really proud of the effort and the kind of grit through that one. We didn’t play our best through the middle part of the game. But we made just enough plays and the right adjustments to make a win there.”

The Hornets had a great first quarter behind George, whom the Cats just could not contain. Bryant trailed 6-4 then put together a 13-0 blitz that also included baskets by Burton, Landyn Newburn and D.J. Hale.

Down 17-6, the Wampus Cats broke a nearly three-minute drought only to have George cap off the quarter with a drive to the rack to make it a 13-point lead going into the second quarter.

But the Hornets were held to just 4 points in the second period.

A basket by Hale off a feed from Newburn increased Bryant’s lead to 21-14 at the 3:28 mark but before Hale could score again inside, the Cats had sliced the advantage to 1. They scored the last 4 points of the half to manage a 24-23 lead.

A pair of stickbacks in the first couple of minutes of the third quarter by the Cats extended their lead to 28-23.

Bryant answered that surge with its own. Cameron Booth hit the offensive boards to start the run. George followed with a 3-pointer, tying the game at 28. Will Diggins then scored back-to-back hoops inside to push the Bryant lead to 32-28.

Conway’s only 3-pointer of the night followed, cutting it to 1 then the Cats had a chance with a pair of free throw attempts to regain the upper hand only to come away empty. So, when Diggins hit a free throw with :0.6.4 left the Hornets were up 33-31 going into the fourth quarter.

“We switched to our match-up zone,” said Posey of the halftime adjustments. “We felt like they weren’t shooting the ball very well in the first half. We wanted to make them beat us from the outside and they didn’t do it.

“We gave up a few rebounds early on in our zone, but we made some adjustments there and fixed that and wouldn’t let them get any more rebounds,” he added. “We got out on the break and that’s what really helped us.”

Bryant out-rebounded the Cats 27-18, led by Diggins’ nine boards. George finished with 17 points. Hale added 6 with Burton, Kearney and Diggins scoring 5 apiece.

Up next for the Hornets is a showdown at rival Benton on Monday, Dec. 10.



Score by quarters

Conway White8          16        7          8 — 39

BRYANT           19        4          10        10 — 43


Stubbs 1-8 2-2 4, Wiseman 1-2 0-0 2, McClure 6-8 2-2 14, Harris 3-7 0-1 6, Waller 0-3 0-0 0, Lockhart 2-4 0-0 4, Mickens 3-4 0-2 6, Purifoy 1-2 0-0 3, Gilliam 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Scroggin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals17-39 (44%) 4-7 (57%) 39.


Kearney 1-2 2-2 5, Burton 2-5 0-0 5, George 7-13 2-4 17, Booth 1-1 0-0 2, Diggins 2-4 1-2 5, Newburn 1-4 1-1 3, Sanders 0-1 0-0 0, Hale 3-3 0-0 6. Totals17-33 (52%) 6-9 (67%) 43.

Three-point field goals:Bryant 3-9 (Burton 1-3, George 1-2, Kearney 1-1, Newburn 0-3), Conway White 1-12 (Purifoy 1-2, Stubbs 0-5, Harris 0-2, Wiseman 0-1, Waller 0-1, Lockhart 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 20, Conway White 14. Rebounds:Bryant 9-18 27 (Diggins 4-5 9, Booth 2-2 4, George 1-3 4, Hale 1-2 3, Newburn 0-2 2, Burton 0-1 1, Sanders 0-1 1, team 1-2 3), Conway White 7-11 18 (Harris 1-5 6, Waller 2-1 3, Mickens 2-1 3, Stubbs 1-1 2, Lockhart 0-2 2, McClure 1-0 1, team 0-1 1). Team fouls:Bryant 10, Conway White 15.







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