Photos by Kevin Nagle
The Bryant White Hornets eighth grade team of Bryant Middle School suffered just their second loss in eight games this season when the Conway White Wampus Cats held on for a 40-33 win at Bryant Middle School gym on Monday night.
Conway White put together a 16-2 run that turned an 18-18 tie into a 34-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. Bryant rallied and cut the margin to 3 in the final seconds but the Cats hit four free throws at the end to secure the victory.
Kajuan Robinson led the Hornets with 11 points. Daelin Drake added 9 and Blaise Smith scored 8 to go with a game-high 13 rebounds. Coby Greiner and Jakob Neel added 2 points each and Jake Wright contributed a free throw.
The Hornets are scheduled to host Russellville tonight then Cabot South on Saturday.
Conway White, using a trap near off of a man-to-man press, forced 22 turnovers by the Hornets. Bryant would get the ball inbounded against the pressure and then clear for a ball-handler to bring it up court against man defense then, just before he reached midcourt, a second defender would converge, forcing a trap. The Hornets suffered three 10-second violations and had several passes tipped and intercepted despite head coach Heath Long urging his players to come back to the ball and help when the traps occurred.
For most of the first half, Bryant White handled that pretty well and, by getting the ball inside to Robinson or Smith, kept it close. The Hornets took a 3-0 lead on a free throw by Drake and a jumper in the lane from Greiner. Conway White, which had 12 different players contribute to the scoring, scored the next 7 points and held a 13-7 edge at the first break.
Wright hit his free throw and after a free throw by Conway, Robinson drove for a layup. The Cats answered but free throws by Robinson helped the Hornets keep pace, down 16-12.
It was 18-14 when the Cats missed two free throws, opening the door for Bryant to close the gap. Drake converted twice at the line and, after a Conway turnover, Smith got the line and knocked down both shots to even it up at 18.
Conway scored with about a minute left in the half and held a 20-18 lead at the break. But the Cats scored the first 7 points of the third quarter. Robinson interrupted with two free throws but Conway ran off another 7-0 spurt to build up the 14-point advantage.
A 3 by Drake started the Hornets’ comeback. On three consecutive trips to the line, the Hornets went 1 for 2. Smith knocked down a jumper with 2:33 left to trim the lead to 34-28.
Two free throws by Conway White at 1:25 interrupted the run. Drake went to the line at 1:15 and missed the first shot but Greiner rebounded. Though he misfired, there was Smith with a stickback to make it 36-30.
After a timeout by Long, the Cats missed an ill-advised 3-point try but the Hornets missed another bonus opportunity at the line. Conway returned the favor and, this time, Neel took advantage with a basket as he was fouled.
Though he missed the free throw, Robinson rebounded the miss and was fouled with :12.5 showing. He converted once to cut the lead to 36-33.
The Hornets finished 14 of 24 from the line but went 4 of 10 in the fourth quarter. Conway White was 10 of 16 on its free throws but 9 of 10 in the second half.