For more photos from this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
The Bryant Hornets freshman team held the Cabot South Panthers to one free throw over the final 3:30 as they forged a hard-earned 45-41 victory to improve to 2-0 in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference Monday night at the Bryant Middle School gym.
Bryant’s lead was never more than 5 in the game and Cabot South’s largest edge was 6.
The game was tied 36-36 going into the fourth quarter and when the Hornets’ Gabe George hit a free throw in the opening moments of the final period, the Hornets were ahead to stay.
A Cabot South turnover led to a driving layup by Demetrius Sanders and a 3-point edge.
The Panthers turned it over again and called a timeout.
Eric Masterson, who led Cabot South with 12 points and 13 rebounds scored with 4:07 left to cut the Bryant lead to 39-38. Landyn Newburn countered for the Hornets only to have Cabot South’s Braden Jay find a lane for a drive that had the Panthers within 41-40 with 3:35 to go.
The Panthers went cold from there. After Sanders drove for another bucket, Masterson hit a free throw that had Cabot South within 43-41.
The teams traded turnovers and Newburn took advantage for the Hornets with a turnaround jumper from the low post with 2:01 left to play that set the final score.
Defensive prevailed the rest of the way. Cabot South’s Cooper Baxter, who had hit a pair of 3’s earlier in the game, missed but so did Kearney. But Kearney came back to block a shot by Baxter and the Hornets took a timeout with :44.7 to go.
Masterson missed twice in heavy traffic under the basket. His third rebound led to a trip to the line. But, with :12.4 left, he missed the front end of the bonus opportunity.
With :07.5 to go, Newburn couldn’t get a front end to go either but Sanders rebounded and the Hornets played it out.
“We hit some free throws in the fourth quarter,” noted Hornets head coach Tyler Posey. “We got a couple of big plays out of our guys, some good finishes low, including that one by Landyn on a post-up. We just ran a few sets there that got us some looks, and we converted on some then hit just enough free throws to stay alive.
“They out-rebounded us by seven (29-22),” he mentioned. “That’s the first game all year that we’ve won when we’ve been negative in the rebounding battle. I think that was really because we didn’t turn it over that many times (5) and had 13 made free throws to their 13 attempts.
“We also met our goal in deflections,” the coach said. “I feel like if we can get two of those three goals, we always have a shot to win.”
George led the Hornets with 14 points including 6 of 10 at the charity stripe. Newburn had 11 points, Sanders 8 and Kearney 6. Will Diggins had 4 points and nine boards.
The Hornets trailed 5-4 early but Diggins scored inside, and George followed up with a free throw. Newburn sank a pair at the line and Bryant was up 9-5.
George took a charge, but the Hornets were unable to take advantage. With :15 left in the quarter, Cabot South’s Aaron Pouncy knocked down a 3 only to have Kearney beat the buzzer with a triple off a kick-out from George to give the Hornets a 12-8 lead going into the second.
Diggins scored off the offensive glass, but Baxter drained back-to-back 3’s to tie the game at 14.
The game went back and forth until, with 2:28 left in the half, Kearney converted two free throws and Sanders scored off the offensive glass as he was fouled.
Though Sanders missed the free throw and the three-point play, Kearney added a free throw and the Hornets had their largest lead of the game 23-18 with 1:40 left in the half.
Kaden Smith traded free throws with George in the final minute and the Hornets held a 24-20 edge at the break.
Cabot South surged to start the second half. Sparked by a 3 from Jay, they put together an 11-2 burst that had the Hornets down 31-26.
Gavin Burton interrupted the run with a 15-foot jumper. George ended the run with a pair of free throws with 2:48 left in the quarter. His driving jumper trimmed the margin to 31-30 only to have Smith hit a 3 for the Panthers and Masterson follow with two free throws.
So, with 1:35 left in the third quarter, the Panthers had their largest lead of the game, 36-30.
But the Hornets then started a run that put them in position to get the win. George hit a free throw then Diggins rebounded the missed second shot. He missed a follow but, on his second board, kicked it to Newburn for a huge 3.
After Jay missed twice at the line with :24.9 left in the quarter, Newburn drove for a bucket that had the game tied.
The Hornets improved to 10-4 on the season overall. On Thursday, they’ll have a chance to avenge two of those losses as Lake Hamilton visits Bryant. The Wolves beat Bryant 45-43 on Nov. 12, then beat out the Hornets for the Kameron Hale Invitational Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 29, 38-28.
This time, they’ll play in conference action.
HORNETS 45, PANTHERS 41
Score by quarters
Cabot South 8 12 18 5 — 41
BRYANT 12 12 12 9 — 45
Pouncy 1-2 0-0 3, Baxter 3-9 0-0 8, Jay 2-9 2-4 7, Masterson 4-9 4-7 12, Lopez 3-4 0-0 6, Smith 1-2 2-2 5, Garcia 0-0 0-0 0, Lang 0-1 0-0 0.Totals14-36 (39%) 8-13 (62%) 41.
Newburn 4-6 2-3 11, Burton 1-4 0-0 2, George 4-12 6-10 14, Booth 0-1 0-0 0, Diggins 2-4 0-0 4, Hale 0-1 0-0 0, Kearney 1-4 3-4 6, Sanders 3-4 2-3 8, Mendoza 0-0 0-0 0. Totals15-36 (42%) 13-20 (65%) 45.
Three-point field goals:Bryant 2-7 (Kearney 1-3, Newburn 1-1, Burton 0-2, George 0-1), Cabot South 5-12 (Baxter 2-5, Jay 1-4, Pouncy 1-1, Smith 1-1, Lang 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 5, Cabot South 12. Rebounds:Bryant 8-14 22 (Diggins 4-5 9, Sanders 2-2 4, Booth 1-2 3, Newburn 0-2 2, Burton 0-1 1, Kearney 0-1 1, team 1-1 2), Cabot South 11-18 29 (Masterson 4-9 13, Jay 1-4 5, Lopez 1-3 4, Baxter 2-0 2, Smith 0-1 1, Lang 0-1 1, team 3-0 3). Team fouls:Bryant 16, Cabot South 18.