By Rob Patrick
SHERIDAN — The first time they played, the Sheridan Yellowjackets’ size advantage and hot[more] shooting trumped the Bryant Hornets’ advantage in quickness. In the rematch, quickness trumped size as the Hornets turned the tables on the Jackets for a 47-37 win at Oliver Williams Gym.
In Bryant on Jan. 15, the Hornets' drives resulted in blocked or altered shots. This time, when they got penetration, they took it to the Jackets’ big guys. Sure, there were a few blocked shots but, instead of altering their shots, they went strong into the lane and drew fouls. On Sheridan’s home court, Bryant shot 27 free throws to the Jackets’ 11, though 10 of the Hornets’ attempts came in the final three minutes when Sheridan was trying to stage a comeback.
Jackets’ point guard Chris Whitman fouled out, forwards Brady Bowlin and Griffin Smith along with 6-7 center Austin Theiss each wound up with four.
“Riley Hall (a senior out for the season due to injury) does a good job of telling me, ‘Hey, this guy’s got two or three fouls,’” related Hornets coach Mike Abrahamson. “He told me 21 (Theiss) had two and we went at him and he got three. We went at him and he got four. And that’s big to get him out of the game because he really hurt us last time.
“With Zach Cambron out with a thigh bruise, we’re even smaller but really played with a lot of determination tonight, a lot of grit and a lot of effort to make up for that. I couldn’t be prouder of their effort.”
That determination and grit were a welcome sight for the coach who felt his team didn’t play that way in Tuesday’s loss at home to Little Rock J.A. Fair.
At Bryant, Sheridan made runs at the start of both halves to put the Hornets in a hole. This time, the Jackets scored the game’s first 6 points but, to start the second half, it was Bryant that put together a surge that Sheridan never overcame.
“That has not been typical of us,” Abrahamson said of the fast start to the second half. “We’ve usually been on the other end of those runs. The only points they got in the third quarter were off an offensive rebound and two free throws.
“The kids came out locked in,” he continued. “It’s nice to be on the other end. The last time we played them, we were up 6 at halftime and they came out with an 8-0 run. We’ve talked about that and gone over that but we’ve done that a lot of times. For some reason tonight it clicked with them and they were very focused and locked-in on what they needed to do.”
Sheridan also found it a little tougher going on offense against the Hornets’ 3-2 match-up zone. At Bryant, the Jackets shot 55 percent from the field. This time, they wound up hitting 31 percent (14 of 45) including just 4 of 20 in the second and third quarters.
“We held them to 37, that’s pretty good,” Abrahamson noted. “It was a tough night for them. Give credit to our guys for executing.”
The first half was tight. Sheridan, on the strength of the 6-0 opening salvo, held an 11-5 lead before K.J. Hill hit a driving layup just before the buzzer ending the first quarter, cutting the margin to 4.
Brian Reed hit two free throws to start the second stanza and, after Bowlin knocked down a jumper in the lane, Tyler Simmons fired in his second 3 of the game. With 4:21 left in the half, Hill hit two free throws to give Bryant its first lead.
Simmons wound up the game’s leading scorer with 12 points. Hill added 11 and C.J. Rainey 10 for Bryant. Dylan Morris paced the Jackets with 11. Smith added 8, Bowlin 7 with Theiss finishing with 5 points and four rebounds, due in part by his foul trouble. He had 10 points at Bryant.
After a Sheridan turnover, Whitman made a steal only to have Hill steal it back and feed Greyson Giles who drained a 3 from the corner to make it 17-13.
With a 3 from Morris and a short jumper by Bowlin, the Jackets regained the lead 18-17 going into the final seconds of the half. But when Luke Rayburn went up for a rebound and shot before coming down, banking the ball in, Bryant had the lead at intermission and for good.
The Hornets’ breakout third quarter started with a free throw by Hill as Theiss picked up his fourth foul. Sheridan missed three chances to counter before Giles hit the offensive glass for a bucket.
Morris answered with a flip into the basket from the middle of the lane and, after a Bryant turnover, Bowlin made it 22-21 with a free throw. Another Hornet miscue gave the Jackets a chance to regain the lead but Morris and Bowlin missed this time and, at the other end, Rainey made them pay with a 3. Hill made a steal, was fouled and converted two free throws to extend the lead. Moments after Bowlin picked up his fourth foul at the 1:51 mark, Reed made a steal which led to another triple from Rainey, making it 30-21.
Sheridan whittled the lead to 33-28 by the 5:38 mark of the fourth quarter. Theiss blocked a shot and Giles picked up his fourth foul for Bryant but the Jackets weren’t in the bonus yet. Theiss got a shot from the lane but it rimmed out and the Hornets started working the clock.
With 4:28 left, Hill found himself open to the right of the top of the key and filled it up for 3-point range to extend the lead to 36-28.
Morris countered with a stickback as he was fouled but missed the free throw. Bryant ran the clock down to 2:45 before Simmons was fouled. He made the first shot but missed the second. The carom came out long, however and Rainey hauled it down and, with 2:23 left, Simmons gunned in a triple from the corner to push the lead to 10.
After Smith misfired, Hill was fouled and, with 1:52 left, converted once to make it 41-30. Theiss grabbed the rebound off the missed second shot and drew a foul. He converted once to make it a 10-point margin then Tyler Raney made a steal for Sheridan and drove for a layup that cut it to 41-33 with 1:40 to go.
Rainey hit two free throws for Bryant but Whitman hit a jumper in the lane to keep the Jackets within 8. After a timeout, Rayburn was fouled. But when he missed his second shot, once again, the carom came out to Rainey who was fouled with :45.2 to go. He hit two free throws then Rayburn made a steal and was fouled. And when he converted both shots, Bryant had its largest lead at 12 going into the final 30 seconds.
Now 16-9 overall, the Hornets improve to 5-6 in the South Conference going into their final three games. They host Texarkana on Tuesday, visit Lake Hamilton on Friday then finish the regular season at home against El Dorado.
HORNETS 47, YELLOWJACKETS 37
Score by quarters
BRYANT 7 12 11 17 — 47
Sheridan 11 7 4 15 — 37
HORNETS (16-9, 5-6) 47
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Hill 2-9 6-12 1-3 4 1 11
Rainey 2-9 4-4 5-4 9 2 10
McKissock0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Rayburn 1-3 2-4 2-0 2 0 4
Reed 1-3 3-5 2-4 6 4 5
Simmons 4-6 1-2 0-2 2 1 12
Giles 2-6 0-0 0-4 4 5 5
Davis 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Team 0-3 3
Totals 12-37 16-27 10-21 31 13 47
YELLOWJACKETS (13-12, 2-9) 37
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Whitman 1-4 0-0 1-7 8 5 2
Morris 4-13 2-2 2-7 9 3 11
Bowlin 3-6 1-3 4-1 5 4 7
Smith 3-9 0-0 2-1 3 4 8
Theiss 2-5 1-2 2-2 4 4 5
Padgett 0-3 2-4 1-2 3 2 2
Feathers 0-2 0-0 1-0 1 1 0
Hollinger 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Raney 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 2
Hedden 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Team 2-1 3
Totals 14-45 6-11 15-21 36 25 37
Three-point field goals: Bryant 7-17 (Simmons 3-5, Rainey 2-4, Hill 1-4, Giles 1-3, McKissock 0-1), Sheridan 3-14 (Smith 2-7, Morris 1-4, Bowlin 0-1, Feathers 0-1, Hollinger 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 12, Sheridan 15.