Streak ends but Hornets earn two wins
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).
HOT SPRINGS — The Bryant Hornets didn’t win the 2005 Summit Bank Spa City Shootout. In fact, they didn’t even make it to the finals. But, in the long run, it may have helped them.
Head coach Mark Smith and assistant Chad Withers were concerned about their team’s depth this season even after a 7-2 start that included the six-game win streak they took into the tournament. But when the some of the starters put forth a lackluster performance in the first half of a second-round game, the coaches turned to the bench. Despite an eventual 46-30 loss to Monticello which snapped the team’s streak at seven, the coaches were encouraged by what they saw from sophomores Taylor Masters, Zach Lewis and Chad Knight along with senior transfer Johnny Vaughn.
In fact, Masters, Knight and Vaughn got starting nods in the third-place game against Siloam Springs and helped get the team off to a strong start on the way to a 53-48 win.
The Hornets had extended their streak to seven by opening the tournament with a 32-29 win over Lake Hamilton. With the weekend’s results, Bryant finishes 9-3 in non-conference games. They were set to begin AAAAA-Central Conference action at Little Rock Central on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
“We didn’t play real well against Lake Hamilton but we still won,” Smith noted. “We played real good defense. Against Monticello, we didn’t get a good effort at all but we played better against Siloam Springs.”
In that third-place game on Friday, Dec. 30, the Hornets jumped out to a 14-3 lead over the Panthers and ran that up to 26-10 as the fire returned for Bryant.
Siloam hung around, however, and eventually cut the margin to 5 twice in the fourth quarter only to have the Hornets come through at the free-throw line to hold on. Micah Farish went 8 for 8 at the line in the fourth quarter and the Hornets were 13 of 16 in the second half.
Jeremy Nordman led Bryant with 11 points in the game. Chris Chumley added 10 and Farish and Phillip Porchay had 8 each.
Monticello, which wound up losing to Benton in the tournament finals, avenged its only loss of the season to that point, 53-44 to Bryant on Dec. 9, with the semifinal victory.
“There was not much good about that game at all,” Smith said of Thursday’s rematch. “We didn’t play very good defense and we certainly didn’t shoot the ball very well. We wound up shooting 23 percent from the field for the game. Monticello just clogged things up inside and didn’t give us anything off our backdoor cuts. And we couldn’t make a jump shot.”
So frustrated were the Hornets offensively that they didn’t manage a field goal until Lewis hit a shot with 15 seconds left in the half, cutting the Billies’ lead to 23-8. Monticello had led 10-2 after a quarter.
The lead grew to as much as 19 in the fourth quarter.
A 13 of 19 performance at the free-throw line in the game was a bit of a silver lining along with the play of the bench.
Masters led the Hornets with 6 points. Vaughn, Lewis and Nordman finished with 5 each.
Monticello’s Bryan Sherrer, son of head coach Wayne Sherrer and a Southern Arkansas University signee, scored 20 of his team’s points.
Defense was the key to the Hornets’ win over Lake Hamilton on Wednesday, Dec. 28. In fact, both teams played well defensively. But Bryant held the Wolves to just 3 points over the final 11:17 of the game including a scoreless stretch of 10:17.
That enabled the Hornets to whittle away a 26-16 deficit. By the time Lake Hamilton scored again, Bryant had forged a 30-26 lead.
It was 26-21 going into the fourth quarter and the Hornets surged ahead on a backdoor layup by Porchay off a nice feed from Chumley with about two minutes left in the game.
“We just kept pecking away and played real well defensively,” Smith noted.
A 3-point basket by Sanders Roark ended the dryspell for the Wolves, cutting Bryant’s lead to 30-29 going into the final 30 seconds. A free throws by Chumley and another with :15 left by Chase Shaw made it a 3-point lead.
“They got two good looks at 3’s at the end,” Smith noted. “And with two of their best shooters. We dodged a bullet.”
Chumley led the Hornets with 12 points. Porchay finished with 7 points and six rebounds. Farish added 6 points, Nordman 5 and Shaw 2.
Lake Hamilton led 7-3 after a quarter, 15-8 at halftime.
“Obviously, we didn’t play that well offensively but Lake Hamilton had something to do with that,” Smith acknowledged.