Defense frustrates Panthers as Hornets’ frosh wins third straight

For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here

Braylen Montgomery (14) tries to get a shot up past a Benton defender. (Photo by Rick Nation)

A team can win a lot of games if they play tough defense and rebound. The Bryant Hornets freshman team provided a good example of that on Monday night when they forced the rival Benton Panthers into 18 turnovers and out-rebounded them 30-26. Thirteen of the Hornets’ 30 boards came on the offensive end and they were guilty of only six turnovers themselves.

Benton scored just 6 points in the first half and, with the game still in doubt, mustered just 5 in the fourth quarter as the Hornets broke out to a 37-21 victory at the Bryant Junior High gym.

It was the Hornets’ third consecutive win. They are now 6-6 going into Central Arkansas Junior High Conference play. They’ll host Conway Blue on Thursday.

“I really like what we’ve started to build upon there on the defensive end,” said Hornets coach Tyler Posey. “I feel like we’ve made improvements throughout the year. The last two games and the last couple of days in practice, we’ve seen a lot of a difference in what we do defensively. 

“We’re getting hands on a lot of balls,” he noted. “Last game, we have 43 deflections. Tonight, we had 28. When we get those kinds of deflections, we end up getting steals and layups. It really fuels us.”

Darren Wallace goes up for a short jumper between a pair of Benton defenders. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Darren Wallace led the Hornets with 11 points. Cory Nichols added 8 and James Billingsley 6. Eight Hornets contributed to the scoring.

Benton had a size advantage inside but Bryant made it hard for the Panthers to get the ball to them by pressuring their guards.

“We really wanted to get out heavily on those guards,” Posey acknowledged. “We were really out-sized, so we were trying to keep it out of their hands. The best we could do was pressure the mess out of them. I thought we did a really good job of that.”

Both teams struggled with their shooting but thanks to the turnovers and 13 offensive rebounds, the Hornets were able to attempt 22 more shots.

A free throw by Jordan Knox and a 3 by Wallace allowed the Hornets to get out to a 4-0 lead. But Benton scored the next 6 points including the first basket of the second quarter to break the 4-4 tie that was the score at the end of the opening stanza.

But the Panthers’ basket with 5:45 left in the half turned out to be their only points of the second quarter. 

Carson Nagle (24) tries to drive around a Benton defender. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Nichols tied it with a jumper and, moments later, Billingsley popped a 3 to put the Hornets ahead to stay.

After a Benton timeout, the Hornets inbounded under the basket with a lob to Wallace, who guided the ball into the hoop to make it 11-6. A steal and layup by Nichols and a 3 by Billingsley made it 16-6 at the half.

The teams traded points for most of the third quarter. In the final three minutes, Bryant’s Nasir Vincent hit a free throw then Nichols knocked down a baseline jumper to make it 21-10.

A 3 for Benton and a three-point play in the final seconds allowed the Panthers to cut the margin to 21-16 going into the fourth quarter.

Ivory Gilmore’s 3-pointer and a 15-foot jay by Nichols pushed the margin back to 10 and the lead was never less than that the rest of the game.

James Billingsley (11) hit two 3-pointers in Monday’s game. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Off a pair of missed free throws by the Panthers, Knox fed Chris Gannaway for a layup. Knox would add a free throw then baskets by Wallace and Braylen Montgomery produced a 33-16 lead going into the last two minutes.

Benton’s first field goal of the fourth quarter came at the two-minute mark. Wallace and Gannaway added baskets after that as the lead ballooned to 18 before a late bucket by Benton after the reserves had subbed in for both teams.



Score by quarters

Benton            4          2          10        5 — 21

BRYANT           4          12        5          16 — 37


Morgan 1-5 1-2 3, Brazell 0-3 0-0 0, Bell 0-2 0-0 0, Lin 3-5 0-0 8, Phillips 2-5 0-0 4, Dulls 2-3 0-6 4, Payne 0-1 0-0 0, Kelly 0-0 0-0 0, Rook 0-1 0-0 0, Padron 1-1 0-0 2, Koch 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-26 (35%) 1-8 (13%) 21.


Knox 0-4 2-6 2, Billingsley 2-9 0-0 6, Nichols 4-8 0-0 8, Wallace 5-12 0-0 11, Vinson 0-1 1-2 1, Montgomery 1-2 0-0 2, Gilmore 1-5 0-0 3, Gannaway 2-6 0-0 4, Russ 0-0 0-0 0, Lamb 0-1 0-0 0, Nagle 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Pitts 0-0 0-0 0, Fluger 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-48 (31%) 3-8 (38%) 37.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 4-18 (Billingsley 2-7, Gilmore 1-5, Wallace 1-5, Nichols 0-1), Benton 2-4 (Lin 2-3, Rook 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 6, Benton 18. Rebounds: Bryant 13-17 30 (Knox 5-1 6, Nichols 1-4 5, Vinson 2-3 5, Wallace 1-3 4, Billingsley 2-0 2, Gilmore 1-1 2, Montgomery 0-1 1, Russ 0-1 1, Lamb 0-1 1, Moore 1-0 1, team 0-2 2), Benton 4-22 26 (Phillips 0-7 7, Lin 1-4 5, Bell 0-4 4, Brazell 0-3 3, Dulls 1-2 3, Morgan 0-1 1, team 2-1 3). Team fouls: Bryant 14, Benton 7. 

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