February 25 in Bryant athletic history: 2003

Hornets finish with win over Catholic

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continue posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).



LITTLE ROCK — When there’s seven seniors and only five starting spots, it means a couple of guys are going to be on the bench. Teenage egos being what they can sometimes be, that scenario often leads to ill will on a basketball team, whining, complaining, finger-pointing when things don’t go well.

It takes a genuine team player, despite not starting, to continue to work hard, root for his teammates and, when given a chance on the court, to doing his best to perform the role his coaches need him to.

Kyle Lynch was a team player for the Bryant Hornets. 

“Here’s a guy that has sat and played his role,” stated Hornets head coach Mark Smith. “I know he probably didn’t get the minutes that he wanted. His playing time was pretty inconsistent and, looking back, he probably should have played more. But when he came in, he always did exactly what he was supposed to do.”

All of which made it extra special when, in the last game of the season, Lynch popped a short jumper with :03 left in the game, giving the Hornets a 55-54 win over the Catholic High Rockets on Friday, Feb. 28.

“I’m really proud of him for hitting the last shot, probably couldn’t have picked a better person to end their career that way,” Smith added. “It just exemplified what he’s made of.”

Lynch only had 4 points in the game but they were huge. The Hornets had led by as many as 14 in the second half, but Catholic had rallied on their home floor and, with 1:05 to play, had taken a 52-51 lead.

The Hornets turned to their top scorer on the season, Jaston Carter, to try to regain the lead. Carter got a shot away from near the free-throw line but it rimmed out. There was Lynch to snag the rebound and put it back up and in to put the Hornets back on top with :50 to go.

Catholic, however, wasn’t going to let it go at that. With :22 remaining, Zach Cash, who led all scorers with 20 points, banked in a 10-foot jumper to put the Rockets back ahead.

Bryant called a timeout with :17 left to try to set something up. Again, Carter was the first option but the Rockets denied the Bryant star. Lynch wound up with the ball about five feet away from the hoop and he coolly knocked down the game-winner.

Catholic tried a long inbounds pass after a timeout but Carter knocked it away and the Hornets had the win. They finished 12-13 on the season.

“I’m so happy for the seniors,” Smith said. “That’s the main thing. They went out on top. The only crying shame is, we’re not getting to play (at State). Tonight’s game kind of exemplifies our season. We played real well the first half. We really wanted to make sure that we ended the third-quarter jinx and, basically, I think we did it. But it came in the fourth quarter instead.”

Indeed, the Hornets jumped out to a 15-11 lead in the first quarter despite the fact that the Rockets surprised them with a box-and-one defense designed to stop Carter. Benny Elder helped take up the slack initially, scoring 6 of his team-high 15 points in the first period. In the second quarter, B.J. Wood heated up and scored 8 of his 10 points including a pair of 3’s as the Hornets took a 31-22 lead at the half.

“Catholic did a good job,” Smith allowed. “When they came out in the box-and-one, it kind of surprised us. We figured it would be the last thing they were going to do but, on the flipside, I’m kind of surprised we didn’t see more of that this year. But I thought the other guys stepped up big.

“Kyle and B.J. saved their best for last,” he continued. “I’m glad too. Those guys had such good attitudes throughout the year. They worked really hard. The reason Catholic got out of the box-and-one was because B.J. picked up the slack. He hit back-to-back 3’s in the second quarter and forced them out of it.”

Carter still managed 12 points, six rebounds and five steals in the game. Dwayne Chumley had 6 points and five assists and Drew Devasher finished with 6 points. Geoff Tucker contributed with 2 points.

After leading by 10 at the end of the third quarter, 43-33, the Hornets had their advantage whittled away in the final period. The Rockets trimmed it to 43-39 before the Hornets got anything on the board in the quarter. That’s when Chumley stepped up to hit a pair of free throws. After a series of turnovers, Tucker blocked a shot by Catholic’s Jimmy Anderson and, at the other end, Elder got free for a layup to make it 47-39.

But Catholic kept the heat on with 7 unanswered points, capped by a 3 from Cash. With 3:06 left, in fact, Judd Walker had a chance to tie the game or put the Rockets ahead but he missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Two free throws by Carter ended a two-and-a-half minute dryspell for Bryant. But offensive rebound baskets by Danny Koehler around a free throw by Elder allowed Catholic to tie it at 50 with 1:32 to go.

Carter hit a free throw with 1:12 to go but Koehler hit two at the 1:05 mark to put the Rockets ahead, 52-51.

“I’m really proud that we overcame a lot of adversity,” Smith mentioned. “We let them come back and we could’ve just laid down. They had the momentum and the crowd behind them.

Our seniors, these guys have meant a lot to this program,” added the coach. “They made it to State last year and, in so many ways, we could be going this year. I really wish we were, mainly for them. I’m tickled that we won for them. I told our underclassmen that these guys have built a foundation for us and we’ve got to build on it.”

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