By Rob Patrick
CABOT — Derek Johnson, who was having his best game of the season (10 points, 10 rebounds), hit a 15-foot jumper with 1:25 left to play, bringing his team, the Bryant Hornets freshmen, into a tie with the Cabot South Panthers in their Central Arkansas Junior High Conference battle on Thursday, Feb. 5. With :50.7 showing, Cabot called a timeout. When play resumed, the Panthers worked the ball to Mason Haley who was fouled with :37.8 to go.
Haley made the first shot but missed the second. But, instead of the Hornets collecting the rebound and taking a shot at gaining the lead, Cabot's J.D. Melby snuck in and grabbed the carom. And he too was fouled. Melby however missed the front end and again the Hornets had a chance at hauling down the board and working for a go-ahead look.
Except that, this time, Haley grabbed the carom and, with :30.1 to go, Adam Rock was fouled.
The Hornets still had a chance, though, when Rock converted just once and, finally, Jonathan Parks snatched down the rebound.
At the other end, however, the Hornets, apparently thinking that more than two of all of those free throws had gone in, started pumping 3's. And they got three pretty good looks. Brantley Cozart's shot from the corner rimmed out but Parks rebounded and got the ball to Johnson in the other corner. He too misfired. Parks rebounded again and, instead of attempting a follow shot, kicked it out to L.J. McLaughlin who proceeded to launch another trey. The ball ended up out of bounds with :02.7 to go, Cabot's ball. A long inbounds pass subsequently used up the last of the time and Cabot held on for a 41-39 victory, avenging a 52-50 loss at Bryant.
The loss snapped Bryant's five-game winning streak. They were set to try to get back on track in their final regular-season game at home against the rival Benton Junior Panthers on Monday, Feb. 9. The CAJHC post-season tournament was set to begin Saturday, Feb. 14, in Greenbrier.[more]
As the scores of their two games indicate, Bryant and Cabot South are evenly matched. And, as might be expected, neither could establish much of a lead in the game. In fact, the game was tied at 7 after the first quarter. It was tied at 10 before Cabot managed to gain the upper hand, tentatively. The Panthers built a 14-11 edge before Johnson took a great feed from Cozart and scored inside while being fouled. Though he failed to convert the free throw, it was a 1-point game.
Two free throws by Tyler Nelson with :11 left in the half put Bryant ahead but Haley was fouled attempting a 3 at the buzzer and converted two of three free throws to put Cabot back on top 16-15 at the half.
The teams traded baskets for much of the third quarter. A layup by Parks off a sweet feed from Cozart with :35 left in the period evened the score again at 28. But, again, Haley was fouled at the buzzer, converted twice and Cabot held a 30-28 edge going into the final six minutes.
McLaughlin evened it at 30 and, after Haley answered, Johnson hit the glass at the offensive end and tied it once again. And, after a Cabot miss, Cozart flushed a triple to give Bryant a 35-32 lead.
Melby and Cozart traded baskets then Haley knocked down a trey to tie it. Melby scored ahead of Johnson's jumper that knotted it at 39, setting up the frustrating finish for the Hornets.
Cozart finishsed with 11 points, Parks 8. For Cabot, it was the Melby-Haley show as the duo combined for 32 of their team's 41 points. Melby finished with 17.
JUNIOR PANTHERS 41, JUNIOR HORNETS 39
Score by quarters
BRYANT 7 8 13 11 — 39
Cabot South 7 9 14 11 — 41
JUNIOR HORNETS 39
Cozart 4-8 0-2 11, Nelson 0-1 2-2 2, McPherson 0-6 0-0 0, Johnson 4-7 2-4 10, McLaughlin 2-9 0-0 5, Parks 3-4 2-5 8, Trudell 1-2 0-0 3, Motto 0-2 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-39 6-13 39.
JUNIOR PANTHERS 41
Melby 6-14 4-9 17, Rock 1-4 0-1 3, Houk 1-1 0-0 2, Haley 4-5 6-9 15, Sixk 2-3 0-0 4, Summler 0-0 0-0 0, Pennington 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-27 10-19 41.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-16 (Cozart 3-6, McLaughlin 1-3, Trudell 1-2, McPherson 0-3, Nelson 0-1, Johnson 0-1), Cabot South 3-10 (Melby 1-5, Rock 1-3, Haley 1-2). Rebounds: Bryant 22 (Johnson 10, Parks 7), Cabot South 24 (Melby 8). Turnovers: Bryant 3, Cabot South 9. Total fouls: Bryant 13, Cabot South 14.