For more photos of this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
When the Bryant Hornets freshman team opened the post-holiday schedule with a 39-29 loss to the Cabot South Panthers, it was a deep disappointment. At the time, the Panthers were among the second-division teams in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference and the Hornets were trying to hang on to second place in the league, trailing North Little Rock by a game at the time.
But, as upset as they were at Cabot South at the time, the Hornets are pleased with the Panthers after Thursday night. While Bryant was dispatching the struggling Lake Hamilton Wolves, Cabot South was stunning North Little Rock, 37-36. The loss came on the heels of a 39-18 loss to Russellville. The results leave the CAJHC boys standings in a three-way tie for first. Bryant and Russellville have pulled even with North Little Rock at 9-2 in the league with the Hornets heading to North Little Rock for what could be a conference championship showdown on Monday.
Of course, with three weeks (six games) left in the conference season, a lot could happen but the Hornets have played themselves into a contention for the league title.
They had some fun at home on Thursday as 15 of the 16 players that got into the game against Lake Hamilton contributed to the scoring. In fact, the leading scorers were starting post Catrell Wallace and Keshawn Scott who capped off the win with a pair of 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds including a buzzer-beater. Both had 6 points in the game.
Keith Merriweather Jr. and Kayleb West added 5 points each. O.J. Newburn, Ethan Hilkert and Daniel Washington finished with 4 apiece. Cade Drennan hit a 3 while Darrick Rose, Marqelle Barnes, Jonathan Hall, Ahmad Adams, Arlon Jenkins and Ethan Loomis scored 2 each. Tre’Vun Herron added a free throw.
Despite so many players getting in on the scoring, the Hornets shot 56 percent from the field (22 of 39). They also out-rebounded the Wolves 30-18, led by Wallace with eight.
Bryant built the lead gradually in the first half but starting with two free throws by Barnes at the end of the first half, they went on a 16-2 run to build a 33-11 lead with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.
Hilkert’s 4 points came at the outset. He and Newburn combined to force a turnover that Hilkert turned into a layup. After a Lake Hamilton free throw, he converted twice at the line. Wallace scored off an assist from Rose then again with the help of a feed from Hilkert as the lead grew to 8-1.
Two more free throws for the Wolves and a Bryant turnover gave them a chance to cut the lead to 3 but Herron made a steal and was fouled. Though he made both free throws, a lane violation cost him the first one. So it was 9-3 going into the second quarter.
Hall’s basket came off the offensive glass to start the second period. After a Lake Hamilton timeout, Merriweather drove into the lane and pulled up for an 8-foot jumper, extending the lead to double digits for the first time.
Lake Hamilton’s first field goal came with 3:10 left in the half. The teams traded baskets the rest of the half and Bryant’s lead was 19-9 at the break.
Newburn scored the first two baskets of the second half. A steal and layup from Rose made it 25-9. After two free throws by Lake Hamilton’s Alex Milstead, Drennan drilled his triple, Washington added two free throws and West drained a 3 to cap off the game-breaking blitz.
The Wolves cut it to 33-15 before Adams posted up for a bucket in the final 30 seconds of the third quarter to make it a 20-point game.
After a free throw for Lake Hamilton to start the fourth-quarter scoring, West followed his own miss to start a final 12-2 surge. Merriweather added a three-point play and Jenkins hit the offensive glass to make it 42-16.
Lake Hamilton scored but Loomis answered before Scott started bombing home his 3’s.