Photos by Kevin Nagle
Kajuan Robinson hit the offensive boards and scored with 5:44 left in Tuesday night’s Bryant Invitational Tournament game between the Bryant Hornets and the Conway White Wampus Cats freshmen teams.
The basket opened the scoring in the fourth quarter after Bryant’s Rodney Lambert ended the third with a 3-pointer. The Hornets, who had trailed by 6 before that, found themselves down just 36-35.
Unfortunately, Robinson’s stick back wound up being the last field goal of the game for the Hornets. Conway White pushed the lead back out to 6 and, though the Hornets kept it there for most of the quarter, in the final two minutes the Cats put the game away, advancing to the championship game of the tournament with a 47-37 win.
Conway White will play Lake Hamilton in the finals on Thursday. Lake Hamilton advanced by forfeit when North Little Rock couldn’t make it through the flooding in its area to get to Bryant for the game. The Hornets will take on North Little Rock in the third-place game on Thursday at 6:15 p.m., at Bryant High School.
In addition to the late drought for Bryant, for the second night in a row, a slow start put them in a hole. Where the Hornets were able to dig out on Monday against Hot Springs Lakeside and win by 22, once they dug out of the hole on Tuesday, they kind of lost steam down the stretch. It was probably a product of the players, several of whom joined the team after the football season, not quite having their basketball legs yet and playing on a second night in a row.
Conway White rushed out to a 9-0 lead before Lambert, who led all scorers with 13 points, converted a pair of free throws to break the ice for the Hornets. Blaise Smith, who scored 10 points before fouling out of the game late, added a basket inside and when Robinson worked a pick-and-roll with Henry Terry for a basket, it was 9-6.
A 3-pointer for the Cats slowed the momentum but Lambert beat the buzzer with a driving layup and it was 12-8.
To start the second period, Robinson and Terry worked the pick-and-roll again nicely to get Robinson a layup and when Tyler O’Neal drove for a bucket, the game was even at 12. A drive by Smith gave the Hornets the lead.
The advantage seesawed for much of the second quarter. With 1:16 left, Smith hit a free throw to make it 18-18.
But a three-point play at the other end put Conway White back up. Lambert, however, responded with his own three-point play to knot it back up. Daelin Drake’s free throws with :10 left in the half made it 23-21.
With :02.4 showing, Conway cut into the margin from the line but the missed second shot left in a one-point Bryant lead at the half.
The back-and-forth battle continued through most of the third quarter. Smith produced a three-point play off a dish from Lambert and, after a Conway layup, Smith followed his own miss and scored to put the Hornets ahead 28-26.
But that proved to be Bryant’s last lead. Conway White tied it at the line and, after a Bryant miss, scored to take the lead, 30-28. The Hornets had a shot to knot it back up at the line but neither shot would fall.
Bryant was 14 of 24 from the free-throw line in the game.
It was 32-30 with 1:44 left in the quarter. The teams traded turnovers with the Hornets losing a chance to tie or regain the lead. Back to back baskets followed for Conway White to make it 36-30 going into the closing seconds of the period.
Kajuan Robinson finished with 7 points for Bryant. Drake had 4, O’Neal 2 and Josh Robinson 1.
Conway White had no one with more than 6 points but four players that reached that level and another with 5. The Cats had 10 players contribute to the scoring.