Bryant hands first loss to Monticello
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
In their fourth year together as the coaches of the Bryant Hornets basketball team, Mark Smith and assistant Chad Withers, for the first time, have a team that is sharp enough, skilled enough and team-oriented enough to make their game plan work to its fullest.
And when it’s working, it’s a thing of beauty.
The Hornets had it working on Friday, Dec. 9, when they handed the first loss of the season to the Monticello Billies whose wins this season include one over perennial AAAAA-South Conference power Camden Fairview.
The Hornets answered every Monticello challenge and extracted a crowd-pleading 53-44 victory, their fourth in a row going into the final week before the Christmas break.
“It was a good team effort,” Smith declared. “For maybe the second time — Bentonville may be the only other exception — I thought we played better offensively than we did defensively. The guys are really running the stuff right.
“We had a lot of early shots go in that made (Monticello) change some defenses and that played to our favor,” he added. “We executed really well. I think that was the big difference in the game.”
The Hornets bombed the Billies out of their zone, hitting nine 3-pointers in three quarters. And when they went to their man-to-man, Bryant worked the back-cutting attack splendidly, highlighted by some eye-popping passes.
Phillip Porchay finished the game with 19 points including 6 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter to help maintain the lead, and three of the 3’s. Micah Farish added 14 points including a pair of key layups on hard backdoor cuts and great feeds from post man Chris Chumley. Farish knocked down a pair of 3’s in the second period. Jeremy Nordman flushed four triples including three in the first quarter as the Hornets established the upper hand to account for his 12 points.
Chumley had five rebounds, five points and a number of assists. Chase Shaw hauled in a game-high 8 boards and helped quiet Monticello’s hulking 6-6 post man Rudy Harrell, who finished with 8 points and six rebounds.
“Jeremy and Micah and Phillip all stepped up from the perimeter,” Smith acknowledged. “I thought Chris and Chase both did a good job defensively especially on the kid that was so much bigger than they were, and battling on the boards.”
The Hornets out-rebounded Monticello 24-13 — not many rebounds, because both teams scorched the nets pretty good, though the Billies’ couldn’t maintain their hot start, shooting less than 50 percent in the second half.
After utilizing four different defenses, including a press, in their previous win over Hot Springs, Smith and Withers started in man but stuck with a match-up after it proved to be effective in slowing down Monticello’s talented guard Bryan Sherrer, who still accounted for 26 points.
“The Sherrer kid, we couldn’t find an answer for him,” said Smith. “We were afraid that if we switched up too much – he was beating whoever was guarding him and we needed help and we felt like probably our best help was that defense that we stayed in. We weren’t quite as creative on defense tonight as we were against Hot Springs but he was the main reason why.”
Sherrer tied the game at 11 with a 3-pointer with 1:41 left in the first quarter and a Bryant turnover gave the Billies a chance to take the lead. But Chumley blocked a shot, Nordman rebounded and Porchay nailed a driving jumper to give the Hornets the lead.
Back on defense, Chumley took a charge on a Sherrer drive, giving Bryant a chance as the last shot of the period. Chumley scored after battling for an offensive rebound just ahead of the buzzer, giving Bryant a 15-11 lead.
And when Farish opened the second quarter with a 3 than Porchay followed up with a stop-and-pop jay, the lead was 9.
Sherrer led Monticello back, however, and when C.J. Harrell drained a 3 with 3:21 left in the half, the Billies had surged ahead 22-20.
That’s when the Hornets’ perimeter trio stepped up. Porchay canned a trey to put his team ahead again. After Rudy Harrell hit a short jumper in answer, Farish bombed a troika to give Bryant a 26-24 lead at the half.
And to start the third quarter, Nordman took his turn from downtown to give the Hornets a 29-24 lead. Rudy Harrell scored inside again but Porchay’s 3 had Bryant back up by 6.
Still, the Billies wouldn’t go away. Bryant’s lead was 37-31 going into the fourth quarter after Porchay beat the buzzer from distance. But when Sherrer dropped in the first two buckets of the final stanza, the margin was just 2.
And the Hornets turned it over to give Monticello a chance at the lead. After a timeout, however, the Billies handed it back and, on back-to-back trips up the floor, Chumley and Farish teamed up for layups off backdoor cuts that forced Monticello coach Wayne Sherrer to call timeout.
The Billies’ last surge, fueled in part by missed opportunities at the free-throw line by the Hornets, whittled the margin to 45-41 with two minutes left.
Again, Farish stepped up with a hard back-cut to the hoop and this time Porchay rifled a pass to him for the layup.
After Sherrer missed a forced 3, Chumley was fouled after taking another sweet feed from Porchay. Though he missed the free throws, Shaw was there to gather in the rebound. That eventually led to the parade to the free-throw line for Porchay, who hit 5-of-6 in the final 40 seconds to seal the win.