By Rob Patrick
SEARCY — Though there were only three from Wynne and two from Bryant that actually played in the game (none of which started) when the two teams met in the Searcy Bank Classic a year ago, there was little doubt that the Yellowjackets remembered[more] when the two teams met again on Saturday.
The Jackets were on their way to the Class 5A State finals later in the season but, that night, the Hornets battled them through four overtimes and handed them a 55-49 loss.
On Saturday, Wynne was obviously fired up for the rematch. And, after the teams played to a 20-20 tie in the first half, the Jackets revved it up in the second half, outscoring the Hornets 27-11 for a 47-31 win.
Using an aggressive, trapping defense, Wynne forced 14 of Bryant’s 22 turnovers in the second half.
“I think that Wynne wanted it more, that they were definitely the more aggressive team on both ends of the floor,” stated Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson. “They had more enthusiasm. They seemed to have each other’s backs and supported each other a lot.
“We seemed to be on our heels a lot and, of course, it just kind of unraveled in the second half,” he added. “We couldn’t get a rebound on either end. Obviously, you’re not going to win many games when you can’t get a rebound.”
The Hornets actually had a rebounding advantage in the first half but got out-boarded 17-11 in the second half.
And a distressing trend continued for the Hornets. Wynne shot 25 free throws to Bryant’s six.
In six games this season including their preseason trip to West Memphis, Bryant’s opponents have shot 146 free throws (making 80) to Bryant’s 64 (making 41).
“That’s pretty frustrating,” Abrahamson acknowledged. “I don’t know that I have the answer. I think that we don’t have a low post presence. Quinton (Motto), even though he’s 6-6, people think he’s automatically a post player, that’s not his strength. I really feel like we’re being aggressive and we’re doing what other teams are doing sometimes, being aggressive and getting to the basket and it does seem that it’s . . .”
The coach left it at that.
Wynne was led by Kennan Halk with 11 points. LaJordan McDaniel added 9, Devante Riley 8 and Joseph Stampley 7. Halk, Riley and Stampley were the three that played in the 2009 game.
Jordan Griffin paced the Hornets with 9 points. Brantley Cozart and Houston Garner each had 7 and Aaron Bell came off the bench to score 6.
As was the case in their game against Searcy on Friday night, the Hornets got off to a good start.
After Halk broke the ice on the scoring, a 15-footer by Motto and a 3 by Garner had the Hornets ahead, 5-2. After Calene Scott converted two free throws, Bryant’s Kyle Nossaman drove the paint and kicked a pass out to Griffin for a triple, making it 8-4 and inducing a Searcy timeout.
When play resumed, Motto took his second charge of the game to that point to give the Hornets a chance to extend the margin but they were unable to take advantage.
Wynne surged to a 9-8 lead only to have Garner beat the buzzer with a stickback, giving Bryant a 10-9 lead.
The Hornets shot five of their six free throws in the second quarter. Though Griffin missed the first two, after Scott hit one from the line and Franklin Settles followed with a three-point play, Bell hit a driving jumper to keep the Hornets within a point.
An offensive-rebound basket by Tony Jones was answered by two free throws by Griffin to keep it 15-14.
It was 19-14 when Bell was fouled after grabbing the carom off a teammate’s miss. He hit his shot and had a chance to make it a three-point play. Though he missed the free throw, the rebound was tapped around and Bell grabbed it and scored to make it 19-18 with just under four minutes left in the half.
The two teams scrambled for most of the rest of the half. Stampley hit a free throw with 1:50 left but when Cozart knocked down a baseline jumper with :40.5 showing, it was tied at 20.
To start the second half, McDaniel scored the first 6 points, sparking an 11-0 run by the Jackets. Bryant went until the 1:35 mark of the quarter before Griffin hit a driving jumper in the lane.
Scott answered for Wynne then Cozart scored and was fouled with :22 left in the period. It turned out to be the only free throw attempt the Hornets would get in the half.
Wynne led 34-24 going into the fourth quarter.
Bryant gamely made a run at the Jackets to start the final period. Griffin’s running jumper got the rally started. After a Wynne timeout, Garner followed his own miss to score, clipping the margin to 34-28.
Wynne needed another timeout to avoid a turnover as the Hornets closed a trap near midcourt. But when the game resumed, the Hornets forced a five-second call, preventing the inbounds pass to get another shot at getting closer. Though sophomore Leon Neale was cited for a charge, the Hornets forced yet another turnover and this time Cozart cashed in with 3 that had Bryant within 34-31 with 5:26 left to play.
But that turned out to be the last points for the Hornets. Halk sparked his team with a 3-pointer. McDaniel hit a free throw after a Bryant miss, then the Jackets forced a turnover.
A tell-tale sequence followed. Riley was fouled with 3:06 left and went to the line for a one-and-one. He missed the front end but Stampley rebounded and missed only to have Riley grab the carom and scored to make it 40-31.
Riley would get another stickback then Stampley scored the last 5 points including a dunk off a Bryant turnover that made it 45-31.
After playing three days in a row, the Hornets will get a few days off before doing it again starting Thursday, Dec. 9, at a tournament in Russellville. They’ll open against Arkadelphia.
WYNNE 47, BRYANT 31
Score by quarters
Wynne 9 11 14 13 — 47
BRYANT 10 10 4 7 — 31
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Scott 1-2 3-5 2-5 7 2 5
Halk 4-13 1-2 0-2 2 1 11
Riley 4-7 0-1 3-1 4 1 8
Settles 1-3 3-5 2-3 5 0 5
McDaniel 4-8 1-4 3-5 8 1 9
Moody 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Stampley 1-6 5-8 1-1 2 2 7
Jones 1-1 0-0 1-0 1 2 2
Team 1-1 2
Totals 16-41 13-25 13-18 31 10 47
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Griffin 3-8 2-4 1-4 5 3 9
Cozart 3-9 0-1 0-3 3 3 7
Nossaman 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Garner 3-9 0-0 4-1 5 3 7
Motto 1-3 0-0 0-5 5 3 2
Cambron 0-0 0-0 1-0 1 3 0
Bell 3-6 0-1 3-3 6 2 6
Moore 0-1 0-0 1-1 2 1 0
Wilson 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Neale 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 0
Trudell 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 0-2 2
Totals 13-39 2-6 10-19 29 21 31
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-14 (Garner 1-5, Griffin 1-4, Cozart 1-4, Wilson 0-1), Wynne 2-7 (Halk 2-3, Riley 0-2, Settles 0-1, McDaniel 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 22, Wynne 13.