Fast start, strong finish lifts North Pulaski past Hornets

By Bridget Bauer

Pretty much the way the Bryant Hornets started its contest Tuesday night against the North Pulaski Falcons is how they ended it.

The Falcons (2-1) jumped out to a quick 20-7 advantage and led by 13 three more times during the first quarter. They ended the fourth period with a 33-14 run on their way to a 99-80 victory. During both stretches, the Hornets (0-1) rushed and missed shots, had turnovers and didn’t get key rebounds.

“First of all, I want to give them credit,” Bryant  coach Mike Abrahamson said. “They came out like maniacs. They were really, really tough, shot the ball aggressively, and it bounced their way.”

In between the first and last quarters, Bryant did show some signs of consistency and fought its way back to tie score at 66-all with 6:44 left in the final period. Trailing 32-19 at the end of the first quarter, the Hornets slowly chipped away at the margin. With 3:56 remaining in the first half, they pulled to within 37-32 on a basket underneath and two 15-foot jumpers by C.J. Rainey. That was as close as Bryant would get until the third quarter.

“We made a few adjustments at half and changed some of our matchups,” Abrahamson said. “I have some concerns, and they are size and depth. We can’t do anything about the size, but can do things with the style we play.”

Behind 45-38 starting the second half, the Hornets slowly reduced the Falcons’ advantage. North Pulaski started the second half with three consecutive turnovers, and the Hornets took advantage to take a 46-45 edge. Greyson Giles hit a basket underneath, and Rainey connected on two free throws and also converted a layup. That lead didn’t last but allowed Bryant to stay within distance of the Falcons.

After that, North Pulaski’s biggest lead was seven points until Bryant was able to knot the score at 66-all. Ten seconds into the fourth period, the Falcons owned a 66-59 margin until Bryant caught up for the 66-all tie on Giles’ two free throws. However, the Hornets didn’t score for another two minutes and committed three turnovers during that span. Meanwhile, North Pulaski erupted on the 33-14 run for the final lead.

“Two positives came out of this,” Abrahamson said. “We chipped away and tied the score at 66. It wasn’t pretty, but we were scrappy and fought. The second thing is we made mistakes because of our inexperience. Hopefully, we can build on that and won’t make those mistakes again.”

Rainey and Giles carried the Hornets on offense with Rainey leading all players with 32 points including 15 in the first half. Giles finished with 24, and next was Wesley Peters with six points.

“I don’t have a consistent player on the bench I can go to,” Abrahamson said. “It is hit and miss. I saw this coming because of the way we’ve been practicing. They don’t get the urgency. We looked like what we are, inexperienced and young.”

Bryant                         19-19-21-21—80

North Pulaski          32-13-19-35—99

Bryant: Rainey 32, Giles 24, Peters 6, Kevin Hunt 5, Cedarrian Crosby 4, Romen Martin 4, Kris Croom 3, Desmond Duckworth 2.

North Pulaski: RaShawn Langston 19, Joe Aikens 18, Justice Irby 16, Arren Scruggs 13, Steven Farrior 12, De’Marik Brown 12, Andrew Wilson 4, Fred Thomas 3, Stacy Cox 2, Cordarius Bracy 2.

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