Hornets surge past Sheridan
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
Bryant Hornets senior Kevin Butzlaff made his first varsity start in his team’s game at Monticello on Friday, Dec. 8. But he didn’t stay on the floor long in that first appearance though he got back in the game later. Obviously nervous, Butzlaff got a little confused and out of position defensively and the Billies got an easy layup behind the Hornets’ defense as part of an early surge that Bryant could never quite overcome.
Given a second start against the Sheridan Yellowjackets on Tuesday, Dec. 12, however, Butzlaff gave the Hornets an early spark with his energetic play and consecutive offensive-rebound baskets to give his team a quick 4-0 lead, part of an 8-2 start. The Hornets never trailed, building a lead of as much as 20 on the way to a 63-50 victory.
“Kevin did a good job,” acknowledged Hornets assistant coach Chad Withers. “You know, he’ll fight you. He gets in there and works. He did some good things.”
Butzlaff scored 6 points and hauled down a game-high seven rebounds as Bryant had 10 of the 16 players that got into the game contribute to the scoring. Chad Knight had 13, Taylor Masters 9 and Brandon Cowart 7.
“I thought we played harder than we have been,” stated Withers. “That’s one thing we’ve been talking about is we’ve got to up our intensity level. I thought, for the most part, they did it. We kind of had some lapses here and there but, we’ve been preaching that and preaching executing what we’re trying to do and I thought that was better in the first half. The second half got a little sloppy because we played a lot of people.
But this at least gives us a glimmer that they’re trying to do what we’re asking them to do. That’s progress.”
Free throws by Zach Lewis and a bucket by Masters off a drive down the baseline gave Bryant their 8-2 lead. Jesse Cole, who led all scorers with 24 points, answered for Sheridan but then the Hornets put together another run. Butzlaff made a nice pass to Lewis for a basket, Cowart made a free throw then Masters fed Knight for a layup that made it 13-4.
A Sheridan timeout failed to slow the Hornets down. They forced a turnover — one of nine by the Yellowjackets in the quarter and 20 in the game — that eventually led to another layup by Knight and a 15-4 advantage. Zach Taylor beat the buzzer ending the first quarter.
The lead was just 19-11 a minute into the second period when Knight buried a 3, Cowart took advantage of a turnover for a layup and Luke Lucas made a steal and laid it in to bump the margin to 15.
Sheridan whittled it back to 9 going into the final minute of the half but Masters drilled a 3 then hit a free throw so that when Toby Belknap ended the period with a 3 for the Jackets, the Bryant lead was 34-24.
And when the Hornets opened the second half with a 10-2 blitz the margin reached 18. Knight hit a running jumper, Butzlaff added a stickback and Masters canned another triple to make it 41-24. After Sheridan scored, Jeremy Nordman’s 3 completed the blitz.
The lead was never less than 15 after that. A pair of nice moves inside by Hunter Sample at the end of the third quarter gave Bryant a 52-35 advantage going into the fourth quarter. And when Lucas started the final period with a 3-pointer the margin was 20 for the first time.
Sheridan cut it to 55-39 but Cowart hit a pair of free throws and Tim Floyd hit a layup to make it 20 again with 3:44 to play.