Freshman boys ratchet up defense, push past Rockets

Photos by Kevin Nagle

Bryant's Josh Robinson (21) releases a shot in a crowd as teammate KaJuan Robinson (44) gets into position for a rebound. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Bryant’s Josh Robinson (21) releases a shot in a crowd as teammate KaJuan Robinson (44) gets into position for a rebound. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

After three straight losses, two of them by just 2 points each, Bryant Hornets freshman coach Tyler Posey decided he needed to light a fire under his team before Thursday’s home contest against the Little Rock Catholic Rockets.

“It didn’t really seem like we came out hot the last couple of games,” he related. “We came out a little flat. So I really cranked the pressure up in practice. We really had a tough couple of practices and they really bought into what we were doing and sold out to playing hard man-to-man defense. It really paid off for them tonight.”

Indeed, the Hornets hustled to a much-needed 43-27 win, forcing 25 turnovers and holding the Rockets to just 33 percent shooting (8 of 24) while out-rebounding them 26-15.

“We lost a couple of close, tough games,” Posey noted. “We needed to pull one out right here and, hopefully, get our confidence going for the rest of the season.

“I’m really encouraged by the progress we’ve made on our man-to-man defense, how we pressure and get after people,” he added. “We got a little energy on the offensive end too. Like I told the kids, it starts with our defense. Our defense makes our offense. It just helped every part of our game tonight.”

Tyler O'Neal follows through on a 3-point attempt. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Tyler O’Neal follows through on a 3-point attempt. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Nine different players contributed the scoring led by Randy Thomas with 12 points. Henry Terry, Blaise Smith and Rodney Lambert had 5 each. Sammy Johnson led Catholic with 9 points.

Bryant rushed out to a 7-2 lead to start the game. Kajuan Robinson hit the offensive glass to get the first points and, after he and Terry combined to force a turnover, Josh Robinson drove for a layup.

Following a pair of free throws for the Rockets, Terry buried a 3 to make it 7-2.

The Rockets responded with a 5-2 run to trim the margin to 9-7 before Lambert fed Smith for a bucket and Tyler O’Neal drained a 3 to make it 14-7. Catholic trimmed a basket off that margin at the buzzer ending the first quarter.

Bryant’s lead was 15-11 before Kajuan Robinson scored with 3:30 left in the half. That started a 9-0 run to close out the second quarter, providing Bryant with a 24-11 halftime advantage.

The surge included an offensive rebound basket by Thomas and a 15-foot jumper by Lambert who followed up with an assist as Thomas scored again. Smith finished it off with a free throw.

The Rockets scored the first two buckets of the third quarter to get back within 9 and they eventually were within 25-17 with 2:26 left in the period. But Smith converted twice at the line to make it a 10-point lead. Lambert followed with a driving jumper then a steal that led to a basket by Terry off an offensive rebound. O’Neal added a free throw and the margin was 15.

Blaise Smith gathers before taking a shot. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Blaise Smith gathers before taking a shot. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

It was never less than double-digits the rest of the way. A basket by Alex Blair off a feed from Thomas beat the buzzer ending the third quarter as the Hornets took a 34-19 lead into the final period.

Catholic whittled the lead back to 10 by the 3:31 mark of the fourth quarter but couldn’t score the rest of the game. Baskets by Thomas and Twanye Mitchell along with a free throws from Thomas and Josh Robinson built the lead to the final margin. Along the way, Daelin Drake, Lambert and Jaylon Dickson had steals for the Hornets.

HORNETS 43, ROCKETS 27

Score by quarters

Catholic          9          2          8          8 — 27

BRYANT          14       10       10       9 — 43

ROCKETS 27

Kennedy 1-4 0-0 2, Coppens 1-2 3-4 5, Allen 1-2 0-0 2, Jenkins 1-3 1-2 3, Porter 1-3 4-4 6, Johnson 3-6 3-5 9, Dawson 0-1 0-0 0, Cardinas 0-0 0-0 0, Foster 0-0 0-0 0, O’Shea 0-3 0-0 0, Wood 0-0 0-0 0, Foltz 0-0 0-0 0, Lorio 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 8-24 11-15 27.

HORNETS 43

Drake 0-0 0-0 0, Terry 2-6 0-0 5, J.Robinson 1-3 1-2 3, Thomas 5-8 2-3 12, K.Robinson 2-7 0-0 4, Smith 1-3 3-3 4, O’Neal 1-2 1-2 4, Lambert 2-7 1-2 5, Blair 1-1 1-2 3, Chatman 0-0 0-0 0, Dickson 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Mitchell 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 16-38 9-14 43.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-7 (Terry 1-4, O’Neal 1-2, Lambert 0-1), Catholic 0-2 (Johnson 0-1, O’Shea 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 22, Catholic 25. Rebounds: Bryant 14-12 26 (Thomas 6-2 8, K.Robinson 3-1 4, Blair 2-2 4, Terry 1-1 2, Smith 0-2 2, Lambert 1-1 2, Dickson 0-1 1, O’Neal 1-0 1, J.Robinson 0-1 1, Drake 0-1 1), Catholic 6-9 15 (Jenkins 2-2 4, Johnson 2-1 3, Dawson 0-2 2, Porter 1-1 2, Coppens 0-1 1, Kennedy 0-1 1, team 1-1 2). Team fouls: Bryant 14, Catholic 12.

Henry Terry

Henry Terry

Rodney Lambert drives to the hoop. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Rodney Lambert drives to the hoop. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

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