For more photos from this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
At the end, the Bryant Hornets freshman team had a different kind of foul trouble.
They hadn’t fouled enough.
The Hornets and the Russellville Whirlwinds had combined for 86 points in their battle at Russellville on Dec. 11. The ‘Winds won by 16. So, in the rematch on Thursday night, at Bryant Middle School gym, both were determined to cut down the scoring, particularly the Hornets.
Both wound up playing a zone trap that, early on, Russellville extended full court. But they dropped out of that because the Hornets were slicing through it. Still, Bryant couldn’t get a shot to go in against them in the half-court and the Whirlwinds surged to a 9-0 lead before Aiden Adams hit a 3 midway through the opening period. Russellville’s Levrone May answered and it was 12-3 at the first break.
From that point on, the Hornets out-scored the Whirlwinds. But Russellville held a 14-8 lead at the half and a 19-15 edge going into the fourth quarter. With 4:08 left to play, Bryant’s Austin Ledbetter hit a 3 to whittle the lead to 1. Russellville slowed down their offense but, with 3:31 left, May knocked down a 3 to make it 22-18.
A Bryant turnover, one of just eight the Hornets committed in the game, gave the ‘Winds possession with just under three minutes left. They took a timeout and, when play resumed, held the ball, trying to get the Hornets to come out of their zone and play man-to-man. Bryant persisted and trapped out of the zone.
The Whirlwinds were taking only a layup but when they thought they had one, Bryant’s Gavin Brunson blocked the shot. The carom came back to Russellville only to have Jalen Montgomery steal it back for the Hornets.
With 1:47 left to play, Brunson was fouled. He connected on both ends of the one-and-one to make it a 22-20 game.
After an exchange of turnovers, Ledbetter got a look from 3-point range, but the shot refused to go. With 1:19 left, Russellville called another timeout.
With 1:16 left to play, the Hornets committed their very first team foul of the second half. They had to commit seven to get Russellville to the free-throw line, in the bonus.
Still, the Whirlwinds gave Bryant a chance when eighth grader Donyae May missed a shot and the Hornets rebounded. The pushed the ball ahead and Adams got a decent look at a 3 but it rimmed out.
Russellville took a timeout with :22.4 left and the Hornets still needed to commit five fouls to get to the bonus. Adams, however, made a steal and, when he was double-teamed just beyond the time line, his pass in hopes of getting the ball to Ledbetter was picked off.
The Hornets committed a foul with :13.2 left, with 11.8 left, with :08.5 left. Bryant coach Tyler Posey called timeout at that point.
Russellville gave them a break when Levrone May took a shot and missed it only to have Donyae May rebound. He was fouled at :03.7 to go then, finally, with :02.3 left, Levrone May was sent to the line on Bryant’s seventh foul.
And he missed. The Hornets rebounded but the ball was juggled before it could be kicked out Montgomery and time expired before he could even launch a desperation shot from three-quarter court.
It was a most frustrating 22-20 loss for the Hornets who have had their share of such lately, losing by 3 after leading all game at Conway Blue and falling at Lake Hamilton by 5, a team that’s been behind them in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference standings all season.
Bryant’s now 13-10 overall and 6-9 in league play going into the final week of the regular season. The Hornets host Cabot South on Monday and Conway White on Thursday. The CAJHC post-season tournament will be held in Bryant starting Feb. 12.
The Hornets held Russellville to just 2 points in the second quarter. A 3 by Montgomery and a driving jumper by Ledbetter had them within 6 points at the half.
The Whirlwinds’ biggest lead was 19-10 late in the third quarter when the Hornets surged, forcing turnovers as they intensified their defensive effort. Adams nailed a 3 and, in the final minute, Ledbetter added two free throws to make it 19-15 going into the final stanza.
Ledbetter led the Hornets with 7 points. Adams had 6. For Russellville Bronson Smith scored 8 and Levrone May 6.
The game, the fourth of the night for the officials, included just 9 free throws between the two teams.
From the field, Russellville shot just 31 percent while the Hornets connected on only 17 percent of their shots (6 of 35).
WHIRLWINDS 22, HORNETS 20
Score by quarters
Russellville 12 2 5 3 — 22
BRYANT 3 5 7 5 — 20
Smith 3-6 0-0 8, L.May 2-5 0-1 6, Allen 2-7 0-2 4, Houlmark 0-0 0-0 0, Rhode 1-4 0-0 2, Lefevre 0-2 0-0 0, Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, D.May 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 9-29 (31%) 0-3 (0%) 22.
Riggs 1-5 0-0 2, Schroeder 0-5 0-0 0, Adams 2-7 0-0 6, Schrader 0-3 0-0 0, Brunson 0-0 2-2 2, Ledbetter 2-7 2-2 7, Aldridge 0-2 0-0 0, Montgomery 1-4 0-0 3, Godwin 0-1 0-0 0, Martin 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 6-35 (17%) 4-6 (67%) 20.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 4-17 (Adams 2-6, Ledbetter 1-4, Montgomery 1-1, Riggs 0-2, Schroeder 0-2, Aldridge 0-1, Godwin 0-1), Russellville 4-10 (Smith 2-4, L.May 2-4, Jones 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 5, Russellville 14. Rebounds: Bryant 8-13 21 (Aldridge 0-4 4, Schrader 2-1 3, Schroeder 0-2 2, Adams 1-1 2, Brunson 1-1 2, Ledbetter 1-1 2, Riggs 0-1 1, Montgomery 0-1 1, Martin 1-0 1, team 2-1 3), Russellville 10-18 28 (Allen 3-7 10, Rhode 3-3 6, Lefevre 2-1 3, D.May 1-2 3, Anderson 0-2 2, L.May 1-1 2, Lewis 0-1 1, Haulmark 0-1 1, team 0-2 2). Team fouls: Bryant 8, Russellville 14.