Hornets’ comeback dumps Dumas
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
After two emotional victories it looked for all the world like the Bryant Hornets were in the throes of a major letdown when they returned home Tuesday night for their opener in the Bryant Classic against the Dumas Bobcats.
The Hornets were strictly low energy in the first half, gave up seven offensive rebounds to the ‘Cats and blew a number of layups as they hit just 6-of-23 from the field.
But a different team showed up at halftime and, after trailing by as much as 11 in the third quarter and 8 in the fourth, rallied to win in overtime, 66-60.
The win, the Hornets’ third straight to up their season mark to 4-2, puts Bryant in Saturday’s title game of the Classic against Crossett, an easy first-round winner over Sylvan Hills Tuesday.
“I tell you, it was one of the worst first-halves of basketball I’ve ever seen,” declared Bryant head coach Leo Olberts. “(Dumas) didn’t play very well and we were just horrible. I don’t understand it, but that’s the way it was.
“We had a little chat at halftime,” he continued, “and we came out the second half, played man-to-man just about the whole half and the guys picked it up a little bit. They started playing more aggressive and, when you play hard, good things happen. That’s what these guys have got to learn, you’ve got to play hard if you want something good to happen.
“Maybe, if I was smart, I’d have them come out and play man just to start with just to get us moving because we seem to be a little lethargic starting out,” Olberts added. “After a while, we kind of get into the game and I’m not used to teams doing that.”
Joe Whittington and Nathan James led the Hornets with 18 points each. Tad Beene, following up a career-high 19 in a double-overtime win over Little Rock Mills on Saturday, had just 1 point through three quarters then finished with 17 including a 13-for-16 performance at the free-throw line.
“I thought Tad Beene had a heck of a night in the second half,” Olberts commented. “He made some big free throws, some key baskets for us. Everybody came on in the second half. The first half really nobody did much. Jared Thomas got some big rebounds for us. Nathan once again had a heck of a night. He’s really been solid for us. So had Joe.”
The Hornets were once again not at full strength. Senior guard Josh Carroll remains sidelined with an injured ankle and sophomore guard Matt Brown, who had played so well over the weekend that he’d earned a starting spot, was unable to play due to an unexcused tardy at school the day of the game.
“It was like I told these guys, ‘You’ve got to suck it up and find a way,’” Olberts related. “We were fortunate when we got it to the overtime that we got the lead and we could get back into a zone. That helped us because (Dumas) was kind of hurting us there for awhile.”
Actually, Dumas held a 48-40 lead with 4:12 left to play in regulation. But the Bobcats played into the Hornets’ hands somewhat by continuing to attack the basket on offense and by continuing to press and play an aggressive man-to-man on defense.
Whittington beat his man on the baseline for a layup to begin Bryant’s comeback. After an exchange of turnovers, Beene was fouled and connected twice to make it a 4-point game.
The Hornets were caught in a zone trying to switch back to a man when Dumas showed signs of pulling the ball out at the other end and the Bobcats’ Deon Wallace burned them for a layup.
The ‘Cats had a chance to increase the lead again when Bryant turned the ball over, but misfired. They pressed the Hornets and Beene was fouled with 2:12 left. He converted twice to make it a 4-point spread again.
The Hornets then forced a turnover that James cashed in with a layup off a feed from Beene with 1:49 left.
With a 2-point lead and the ball, Dumas did nothing to slow things down. Wallace was called for charging Thomas and the Hornets appeared to have a tying layup when Brian Harris finished off a fastbreak, but the basket was wiped out by a debatable walking violation.
Given another chance to milk the clock, Dumas fired away. Jarvis Wilson missed and the Hornets had another chance to tie. Whittington made a concerted drive into the lane then tried to drop a pass down low to James, but the pass was picked off and, with :28 left, the Hornets were forced to foul.
And Dumas’ Brandon Johnson missed the front end of the one-and-one only to have teammate Latron Buchanna rebound the long carom. With :26 left, Wilson was fouled and he converted twice to make it a 52-48 game.
But the Bobcats continued to press. James was fouled with :19 left and hit a free throw. His second attempt missed, but Thomas grabbed the carom and scored to cut the lead to 1 with :16 left.
The Hornets fouled James Washington with :10 showing. Washington made the first then, after his own coach called timeout, missed the second, leaving the door open for the Hornets. And, in the scramble for the rebound off the miss, Beene was fouled as he gained control.
He calmly tied it up with his two free throws and, at the end, Dumas’ Chris Smith missed a 3 to produce overtime.
And the Hornets took the initiative there, scoring right off the tap on a driving layup by Beene. Dumas’ Shamon Coger missed a 3-point try and Thomas made him pay with a drive down the key to give the Hornets their largest lead of the game to that point, 57-53.
Wilson misfired but the Bobcats got the ball back on a 10-second backcourt violation by the Hornets. Beene, however, came up with a steal and though his layup was blocked, Smith missed again and Beene wound up at the free-throw line with 1:26 left to play.
He converted once then Smith finally scored the first points of the overtime for Dumas with 1:14 left.
In turn, Beene hit two free throws then made another steal that led to a trip to the line for Thomas, who converted twice as well to up the advantage to 62-55.
Eventually, the Hornets’ lead reached 9, all at the line. They finished the game 24-of-35, but 21-of-29 after the half.
The field goal shooting also heated up after halftime. The Hornets shot 71 percent (15-of-21) after their dismal first-half shooting.