By Rob Patrick
CABOT — The Bryant Hornets freshman team found a way but it took an extra[more] three minutes and a lot of sweat to get it done.
The Cabot South Junior Panthers were obviously geared up for the Hornets, who lead the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference standings. The large, boisterous crowd of students and adults made the Cabot South gym a bit of a pit. In a rugged contest, the Panthers tied the game with :19.4 left on a three-point play by Brett Frazier only to have Bryant out-score them 8-0 in overtime to escape with a 39-31 win.
The victory was Bryant’s ninth in a row as the Hornets continued to hold sole possession of first place in the league at 5-0 going into Monday’s home game against North Little Rock.
Both teams had a chance to win at the end of regulation. The Hornets took a timeout after working the ball up the floor following Frazier’s tying free throw. When play resumed, they cleared the right side of the floor for K.J. Hill to work toward the basket. But his short jumper wouldn’t fall. In the battle for the carom, however, Hill grabbed the ball and was fouled with :01.8 showing on the clock.
Given two free throws, though, Hill was unable to convert either. After his second shot missed, Cabot South rebounded and called timeout. The clock ran down to :00.4 but the officials put :01.8 back on the scoreboard much to the bewilderment of Bryant head coach Jim Pennington and the Hornets’ fans.
The Hornets were just 3 of 11 from the free-throw line during regulation including 2 of 7 in the final period. But they converted 4 of 7 in overtime to secure the victory.
Still, the Panthers had to go the length of the court to get a last-ditch shot at winning and when they inbounded the ball long, the pass sailed all the way out of bounds on the other end without being touched. Suddenly, the :01.8 showing on the clock belonged to the Hornets. Pennington called a timeout to set up a play and because the ball hadn’t been touched, his team gained possession under their own basket. They got the ball in the corner to Brandan Warner but his rushed 3-point try came up short and overtime ensued.
After Bryant’s J.C. Newborn had a shot roll around and come out, Frazier was fouled again at the other end grabbing a rebound. But he couldn’t get the front end to fall. The Hornets couldn’t convert at the other end then Cabot South, under duress on its offensive end, inadvertently used its final timeout with 1:32 left in the overtime. Neither of the coaches claimed to have called it, saying it was one of the players. The call stood however and when play resumed, Hill made a steal and drove for a layup to snap the deadlock.
Cabot’s Kaylan Pouncy got a chance to tie it back up at the free-throw line with 1:01 to go but missed the front end. Bryant’s Ryan Hall rebounded and got the ball to Hill who was fouled with :56.6 showing. He converted once to make it a 3-point game.
And, on his missed second shot, Hall contested a pair of Panthers for the rebound. The result was Cabot losing the ball out of bounds. The Hornets retained possession and, on the inbounds play, Newborn scored and was fouled, making it a two-possession game at 36-31.
He missed the second shot but Hill sliced in to claim the rebound, taking the ball back outside to kill some time. He was eventually fouled with :31.6 showing. He converted once to make it 37-31.
Both Jake Fergeson and Tyler Hill launched 3-pointers at the other end but they wouldn’t go. K.J. Hill was fouled with :07.0 showing and knocked down both shots to seal the victory.
K.J. Hill led all scorers with 17 points. Newborn had 10 for Bryant with John Winn, Warner and Hall each adding 4. Frazier led Cabot South with 12 points. Fergeson added 8.
Scoring was at a premium in the first half. Going into the final 1:30 of the first quarter, Bryant held just a 5-4 lead. Cabot had a chance to take the lead but Fergeson’s 3-point try rimmed out. A driving layup by K.J. Hill brought a Cabot timeout. But when play resumed, the Panthers turned the ball over and Hill cashed in with a pull-up jumper.
As the Panthers tried to work to get the last shot of the quarter, Newborn made a steal and drove for a basket so Bryant had an 11-4 lead at the end of the first period.
In a rough-and-tumble second quarter, the Hornets were actually shut out. But Cabot South could only many 2 points, on a jumper by Fergeson. It was 11-6 at the half.
The Hornets started the third quarter well. Warner fed Hall for a bucket inside and, after Hall took his second charge of the game on a drive by Fergeson, Winn drove the baseline for a layup and a 15-6 edge.
Pouncy drove for a layup in response then Hill and Fergeson traded hoops. When Winn fed Hall for a short jumper, Bryant held its largest lead of the game at 19-10 with 3:43 left in the third period.
Cabot South got on a roll, however, in the final two minutes of the period. Fergeson drove for a basket and, after a Bryant turnover, scored as he was fouled with :53 left. Though he missed the free throw, the Hornets were unable to get a shot to go down at the other end, and the Panthers had another chance to get closer.
They did just that when Tyler Hill drained a triple sending the game to the fourth period with Bryant clinging to a 19-17 lead.
Newborn and K.J. Hill combined on a nice give-and-go for a layup to start the period but Pouncy’s three-point play trimmed the lead to 1. Newborn’s stickback answered for Bryant. Though he missed the free throw that would’ve made it a three-point play, moments later, K.J. Hill made a steal and drove for a layup as he was fouled. Once again, however, the free throw wouldn’t go.
Bryant held a 25-20 lead but Tyler Hill’s 3 continued the ebb-and-flow. Warner and Frazier traded baskets then Newborn took a feed from K.J. Hill on an inbounds play to make it 29-25.
A three-point play for Frazier with :51 left, kept Cabot South’s hopes alive, trimming the lead to 1.
At that point, the Panthers had committed just four team fouls so, to get the Hornets to the free-throw line, they bodied up defensively and started fouling. Finally, K.J. Hill went to the line with :32.8 to go. Though he missed the front end, Winn out-hustled the Panthers for the rebound and, with :28.4 to go, Warner was sent to the line. His two free throws had the Hornets up 31-28 before Frazier’s tying play off the offensive glass.
JUNIOR HORNETS 39, JUNIOR PANTHERS 31
Score by quarters
BRYANT 11 0 8 12 8 — 39
Cabot South 4 2 11 14 0 — 31
JUNIOR HORNETS 39
K.Hill 6-15 5-12 17, Warner 1-9 2-4 4, Newborn 5-9 0-2 10, Winn 2-3 0-0 4, Hall 2-2 0-0 4. Total 16-38 7-18 39.
JUNIOR PANTHERS 31
Fergeson 4-10 0-3 8, T.Hill 2-7 0-0 6, Pouncy 2-5 1-2 5, Rogers 0-1 0-0 0, Frazier 5-6 2-4 12, Maness 0-3 0-0 0, Mazenac 0-1 0-0 0, Hutton 0-0 0-0 0, Graham 0-0 0-0 0. Null 0-0 0-0 0. Total 13-33 3-9 31.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 0-9 (Warner 0-7, K.Hill 0-2), Cabot South 2-13 (T.Hill 2-7, Fergeson 0-4, Mazenac 0-1, Maness 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 30 (K.Hill, Newborn 8), Cabot South 25 (Fergeson 9). Turnovers: Bryant 8, Cabot South 13. Team fouls: Bryant 10, Cabot South 19. Fouled out: Cabot South, Fergeson, Rogers.