Hornets go 2-1 at Rogers with win over Bentonville
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).
ROGERS — Nothing like getting away for awhile to help you relax and get your bearings again.
For the Bryant Hornets, a trip to northwest Arkansas may have done the trick.
Bryant went 2-1 in the Arvest Mountaineer Classic at Rogers including an impressive 62-53 win over the AAAAA-West Conference’s Bentonville Tigers to rebound from a disheartening 53-49 loss to arch-rival Benton on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
The Hornets improved to 3-2 on the season going into a game at Hot Springs on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
Bryant opened the tournament with a 51-32 loss to the host team. The Mounties eventually won the tournament with wins over Little Rock Hall (a conference rival of Bryant’s) and Little Rock Mills.
The Hornets bounced back with a 52-39 win over Green Forest on Friday, Dec. 2, before finishing up with the win over Bentonville on Saturday.
Against Bentonville, the Hornets started both halves on fire. They jumped to a 13-4 lead and, behind 8 points each by Jeremy Nordman and Micah Farish in the period, held a 10-point advantage at the end of the period, 21-11. Bryant converted on eight of its first nine field goal attempts.
“Bentonville was a pretty big, physical team,” noted Hornets coach Mark Smith. “Watching them play, we thought about how we were going to stop their big guys because they had two 6-6 post men.
“But we came out and played really well, really executed well on offense, got a lot of things going,” he added. “We made really good passes, good hard cuts.”
Bentonville rallied by holding the Hornets to just 3 points in the second quarter but still trailed 24-22 at the break.
“They went on an 11-0 run to end the quarter,” Smith recalled. “The third quarter started with them scoring the first 5 points to take the lead. But then Micah hit a 3 to tie it and Phillip hit one to put us back in the lead.”
And when Chris Chumley turned in a three-point play, the Hornets were off on a 14-2 run, building a 47-34 advantage going into the final period.
Bryant hit 9 of its 12 shots from the field in the third period.
“Bentonville went to a box-and-one defense on Jeremy in the second and third quarter,” Smith mentioned. “And Micah and Phillip hit several shots to get them out of that. That was a big boost for us.”
“They had to foul a lot toward the end of the game,” said the coach. “Our free throws, we’d make one then miss one and Bentonville would come down and make a shot. It kept the game alive for a lot longer than what it should’ve been.
“But I thought all the guys really played hard. Johnny Vaughn came in late in the game and made his free throws which helped us out a whole lot down the stretch.”
Bentonville rallied to within 8 in the final minute but the Hornets converted on six consecutive free throws after that to seal the victory.
Farish finished with a game-high 22 points and Porchay had 15.
“I thought we played really well,” Smith stated. “We did a really good job offensively and defensively, just a really good team effort. It was by far the best game we played in the tournament though it may not have been the best game that we’ve played all year.
“I think we probably played better in the Benton game than we have any other game just as far as execution and just total team effort the whole game,” he allowed. “But then it would be Bentonville. We played real well in that game.”
Against Green Forest, Porchay, Nordman and Farish combined to hit 11 3-pointers. Porchay finished with 18 points, Farish 15 and Nordman 12.
“We shot the ball fairly well,” Smith acknowledged. “We probably took more 3’s really than we should have but we played a little bit better than we did the day before. We were still not as crisp as we’ve been prior to going to the tournament. We didn’t play bad but we didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing.”
In the opening game, it was Rogers that started off strong, building an 11-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game. The Hornets never completely recovered. In the third quarter, they trimmed the lead to 7 when Porchay came through with a three-point play with 2:56 left.
But a drought followed and Rogers built the lead back up to as much as 21 converting 10 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter. The Mounties were 18 of 22 from the line in the game.
Porchay and Nordman each finished with 8 points to pace the Hornets.
“We didn’t play well against Rogers at all, offensively or defensively” Smith said. “We stood around a lot and had a hard time getting into the flow of the game.”