Defense, patience produce Bryant’s first conference win

By Rob Patrick

Brooks White and David Ostrander are once again seeing Dijon Benton in their nightmares.

After Ostrander, at quarterback, and White, at wide receiver, combined for 12 complete passes for 93 yards in the Van Buren Pointers’ football game against the Bryant Hornets last fall before the defensive coaches for the Hornets made an adjustment and covering the 6-4 White with the 6-2 Benton. Van Buren’s 13-9 lead turned into a 28-13 loss to the Hornets.

On Tuesday, Jan. 13, White, Ostrander and the Pointers basketball team returned to Bryant for a little roundball. And there was Benton again who, with plenty of help from his teammates, to dog them defensively. White, who scored 35 points in his team’s victory over Little Rock Central just a few days before, was held to 15, just 8 through three quarters as the Hornets captured their first 7A-Central Conference victory, 57-38.

The Hornets improved to 8-8 overall, 1-1 in the league. Van Buren dropped to 12-4 and 1-1.

Coming into the game, it didn’t look like a good match-up for the Hornets who were coming off a loss at Little Rock Catholic, getting dominated inside by the bigger Rockets. If anything, Van Buren was even bigger with 6-9 post Marshall Parker, White and subs that included 6-10 Hooper Vint and 6-6 Aaron Owen.

“The difference in tonight’s game and Friday night’s (at Catholic) was we played two halves,” stated Bryant head coach Mark Smith. “We played two solid halves. We did go a little brain dead there in the second quarter but we kept it to a minimum and put up enough punch along the way that we didn’t have a long scoring drought.”[more]

Funny how everything works better when your shots are falling. Though the Hornets were just 5 of 13 from the field in the first quarter, three of the made field goals were 3’s. Meanwhile, Van Buren wound up converting just one of its first nine attempts.

“Really, the difference in the game, like any game, is that we hit our shots and they didn’t,” Smith allowed. “We got hot and they didn’t.”

Of course, the Hornets’ more active defense played a role in the Pointers’ frustrations.

“We did a good job defensively,” Smith agreed, acknowledging the work of assistant Chad Withers in that regard. “Coach Withers did a good job of getting the kids to do a better job of jumping the ball and helping off on the big guy. Our inside guys really battled hard.”

It also helped that the Hornets executed offensively what Smith and Withers had been preaching all season, patience and good shot selection. The other team can’t score without the ball and the longer you make them play defense, not only does it wear on them, the more likely there will be a breakdown that leaves an opening for a high percentage shot.

“(In practice), we worked on trying to use a minute up on the clock on each possession and then taking the best shot available,” Smith related. “In the first half, we got a little complacent. We got up a little bit and we started taking the first open look instead of really working the clock. We talked about it at halftime, working the clock and getting the best available shot. And when we came out (in the third quarter), we took I think almost two minutes off the clock before we shot. And I told them, ‘If we do that a couple more times, we’re going to win.’

“They did a good job of executing, did a good job of hitting the open shots and they all did a good job of passing up shots that they probably could’ve taken in order to keep working the clock and, there at the end, taking nothing but a layup.”

In the second half, Bryant went 10 of 14 from the field (71 percent) including 4 of 6 on 3’s.

Thirteen was the lucky number for the Hornets as K-Ron Lairy, Brandon Parish and Tim Floyd each scored 13 points. Benton added 10 and Kendall Butzlaff pitched in with 6.

The game was tied at 5 midway through the first quarter before Lairy nailed a 3-pointer to put the Hornets ahead. After a Van Buren turnover, Floyd followed suit from the top of the key and the lead was 11-5.

Both teams missed chances to change that score until, with 1:08 left in the half, Parish tossed an alley-oop pass to Floyd who was breaking up the right baseline behind the Van Buren zone. Floyd made the catch and got the layup to make it 13-5. At the other end, he blocked a shot by Vint and that remained the score going into the second quarter.

Parish completed Bryant’s 10-0 run with a steal and layup in the first minute of the new stanza before White Hit a 3 to get his team off the mark.

Moments later, Benton made a steal and Butzlaff cashed it in by knocking down a 15-foot jumper.

But White hit another trey and Parker scored 6 unanswered points inside to bring the Pointers even at 17.

The Hornets got the last shot, however, and Lairy beat the buzzer with a running jumper that dropped to put his team ahead at the break.

Van Buren’s Colton Montgomery tied it to start the third quarter but after Lairy drained his second triple of the game Bryant was ahead to stay.

Parker made a free throw but Floyd canned a troika, Butzlaff popped another jumper then made a steal that led to a layup for Parish and the lead was up to 29-21.

Van Buren whittled it back to 30-27 but Parish flushed back-to-back 3’s to bump the margin back to 9. White’s layup in the final minute made it 36-29 going into the final eight minutes.

The Hornets soon had the lead back into double digits. Butzlaff hit the offensive glass for a bucket, Lairy drove for a layup and Benton made a steal that produced a three-point play and a 43-29 advantage.

Van Buren was unable to score in the fourth quarter until Ostrander hit two free throws with 2:49 left in the game. By then the Pointers were trailing by 15 and in chase and foul mode. Bryant converted 13 of 21 free throws in the final period to maintain the double-digit lead. The only field goal came in the final seconds when Floyd got loose behind the press defense, took a perfect pass from Benton and sailed in for a dunk.

The final margin was the largest lead.

BRYANT 57,VAN BUREN 38

Score by quarters

Van Buren 5 12 12 9 — 38

BRYANT 13 6 17 21 — 57

VAN BUREN 38

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts

o-d-t

Ostrander 0-5 2-2 0-0 0 5 2

Spoon 0-3 0-0 2-3 5 5 0

White 5-14 1-2 1-4 5 4 15

Montgomery 2-4 1-2 3-4 7 3 5

Parker 4-4 4-4 3-1 4 1 12

Owen 0-4 0-0 3-2 5 0 0

Vint 2-3 0-1 0-2 2 1 4

Team reb. 0-2 2

Totals 13-37 8-11 12-18 30 19 38

BRYANT 57

Player fg-fga ft-ft reb fls pts

o-d-t

Lairy 4-7 3-4 1-1 2 1 13

Parish 5-8 0-0 0-1 1 0 13

Benton 1-7 8-11 1-5 6 1 10

Floyd 5-11 1-3 0-1 1 2 13

Renuard 0-3 2-6 2-3 5 2 2

Butzlaff 3-4 0-0 3-2 5 3 6

Whitfield 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team reb. 2-1 3

Totals 18-40 14-24 9-14 23 9 57

Three-point field goals: Bryant 7-18 (Parish 3-4, Floyd 2-7, Lairy 2-4, Benton 0-3), Van Buren 4-18 (White 4-11, Ostrander 0-3, Spoon 0-2, Owen 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 4, Van Buren 14.

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