Hornets bounce back, take two in tourney
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
The Bryant Hornets, after a bitterly disappointing loss in the first round, bounced back to earn two victories in the annual Bryant Invitational including an invigorating win over a team (Little Rock Hall) that will be one of their conference rivals next season.
In the 66-58 overtime win over Hall on Saturday, the Hornets were 3-for-3 from the field and 7-of-7 from the line in the extra period at the game was tied at 53 at the end of regulation.
The Hornets also triumphed over Central Arkansas Christian on Friday, 62-45. The opening round loss was at the hand of the Stuttgart Ricebirds, 72-66, after the Hornets had led by as much as 18 in the late stages of the third quarter.
Class AA Arkansas Baptist won the tournament, sweeping three teams from the AAAAA-East Conference. The Eagles opened the tournament by edging Sylvan Hills 62-58 then knocked off Little Rock Mills 50-49 before topping Forrest City 56-46 in the title game.
“I thought we had a lot of outstanding teams here,” commented Bryant head coach Leo Olberts. “I think everything went real well. Of course, we’re sorry we didn’t win it but I thought our guys represented themselves pretty well. It was a disappointing loss to Stuttgart but I think we bounced back and played real well after that.
“The Hall game, just as a team, we really played well especially on defense,” he added. “They’ve got a very athletic, quick bunch and I thought our guys hung in there all night. It was nip-and-tuck the whole way then we kind of came back to force the overtime.
“I think our guys have a lot to be proud of and we have a little momentum as we head into going to Lake Hamilton.”
The Hornets were set to visit fifth-ranked Lake Hamilton on Tuesday, Dec. 11, in their AAAAA-South Conference opener (see related story).
Stuttgart 72, Bryant 66
One bad quarter . . .
The Hornets were clicking against Stuttgart. With 1:50 left in the third quarter, they had amassed a 58-40 lead. Stuttgart figured to make a charge but, as well as the Hornets were playing, it didn’t figure to make up that much of a deficit.
Stunningly, however, Stuttgart did just that. Perhaps the Hornets relaxed a bit too much and the Ricebirds rallied for the win after never leading until the final 1:40.
“One bad quarter,” agreed Olberts. “Other than that, though, I thought the guys played pretty well the whole tournament, especially on defense and rebounding. I think that’s the key for us. If we play defense and rebound, we’ve got a pretty good chance.”
The Hornets, behind 19 points from Jeremy Reeves, 17 from Josh Ridge and 14 from Jaston Carter had Stuttgart down from the outset, scoring the first 6 points of the game with Reeves muscling up inside.
It was just 16-15 at the end of the first quarter but when Scott Yant hit a pair of unanswered 3’s to start the second, the Hornets began to take control. Free throws by Reeves made it 24-15.
Bryant led 35-28 at the half.
It was more of the same as the second half unfolded. Reeves hit a free throw after getting open inside then Carter scored off a drive down the baseline. Ridge made a steal as the Hornets jumped into a press. He scored and was fouled, completing the three-point play after a Stuttgart timeout. Bryant led 41-28.
But the Ricebirds just wouldn’t go away. With some impressive shooting they whittled the lead back to 44-35 with 4:30 left in the quarter. A three-point play by Yant stemmed the tide, however. Ridge followed with a 3, Yant made a steal and Carter wound up at the line where he converted once to make it 51-35.
It was 53-40 before B.J. Wood nailed a trey, Stuttgart turned the ball over and Ridge hit a layup to make it 58-40.
Sparked by Tedrick Walls, who scored 23 points, and Derek Killion, who finished with 20, the Ricebirds put together a 15-1 run to get within 59-55 early in the fourth quarter.
Still, the Hornets held on until Killion tied it at 64 with 2:18 left. Ridge hit a pair of free throws at 1:56 but a 3-pointer by Josh Keith (13 points) gave Stuttgart its first lead.
Carter had a chance to answer but missed a pair at the free-throw line with :48 left. After that, Bryant suffered two turnovers and missed a late 3 as the Ricebirds secured the win.
Bryant 62, CAC 45
For the second time in less than a week, the Hornets dispatched the Mustangs. Junior Bennie Elder, who was limited to just 3 points against Stuttgart, hit CAC with 17 points. Reeves had 10, Carter 9 and Yant and Dwayne Chumley pitched in with 7 apiece. Reeves and Wood had 5 each and Jeff Tucker hit a pair of free throws.
The Hornets put together a 22-point first quarter to gain the upper hand. CAC never led.
Bryant built a double digit lead at one point in the first period. Leading 14-10, Chumley grabbed an offensive board and scored. After a CAC turnover, Yant buried a 3 and it was 20-10. Free throws by Elder and Ridge made it 22-10 before CAC closed with a pair of baskets to make it 22-14 going into the second period.
Bryant led 33-23 at the half then broke the game open in the third quarter. CAC didn’t score in the period until it was half over. In the meantime, free throws by Reeves and Carter, along with a 3-pointer by Carter, had the margin up to 40-23.
A basket and a free throw by Brian Heckmann interrupted the run and proved to be CAC’s only points of the period. Bryant closed with a 9-0 blitz in which Elder hit four unanswered hoops.
The 23-point advantage going into the fourth quarter was the largest of the game for Bryant. In the final eight minutes, there was a little anxiety. On the heels of the Stuttgart comeback, CAC’s rally seemed all too familiar. The Mustangs cut it to 49-33 and forced a Bryant timeout. Moments later, it was 51-37 and the Hornets needed another timeout.
With 2:00 left, Bryant’s lead was down to 12. But Wood stepped up and converted both ends of a one-and-one with 1:57 left to break a Bryant drought. CAC’s Hayden Cruce answered with a pair of free throws to keep it at 12.
Yant was fouled with 1:35 to go. He hit his first shot and his missed second try was rebounded by Chumley who got it back to Yant. He was fouled again with 1:24 to go. Again, he made the first and missed the second and, once more, Bryant got the ball back. This time, Elder rebounded and scored to make it 57-41. CAC was done at that point.
Bryant 66, LR Hall 58
In a seesaw battle, the Hornets’ perfection in overtime made the difference.
Bryant led 17-14 at the end of the first quarter, 29-25 at the half with Carter scoring 11 of his team-high 21 points.
Derrick Brown kept the Warriors in it, scoring 18 of his team-high 22 before intermission.
Despite slowing Brown down, however, the Hornets relinquished the lead in the second half. By the end of the third quarter, Hall led 43-42.
Both teams had shots at winning in regulation but couldn’t snap the deadlock.
Elder scored 5 of his 17 points in the extra period. He wound up 7-for-7 from the free throw line. As a team, the Hornets were 22-of-32. Chumley added 10 points with 8 of that coming from the line. Reeves had 8 points, Ridge 7 and Wood 3.
Ridge led with five rebounds. He also had three assists. Carter had four boards. Chumley dished out five assists and Yant had four.
Shawn Gavin was the only other Warrior in double figures with 11 points.