The first time the Bryant Hornets and the Cabot North Panthers freshmen teams met this season, it was Nov. 30. And it was a wild high-scoring game that probably was the Hornets’ most disappointing contest of their season as the Panthers extracted a 52-48 win in double overtime.
On Monday night the two teams met again, this time in Central Arkansas Junior High Conference play at the Bryant Junior High gym. And it was a different game.
The Hornets put the defensive clamps down on the Panthers, who, through three quarters, managed just 9 points.
Bryant went on to a 35-21 victory to improve to 3-2 in the league going into a trip to North Little Rock on Thursday.
“We did a much better job defending,” acknowledged Hornets coach Tyler Posey. “We went over our scouting report and the kids really followed it a lot better this time, I thought.
“We were able to pressure the ball up top and not let them be really comfortable,” he added.
The Hornets forced 18 turnovers while committing only seven.
“And, this time also, we didn’t give them a lot of second-chance opportunities,” Posey said. “They got a few there and it led to a couple of easy buckets, but we were really able to limit them on the offensive glass.”
Though the Panthers held a 25-22 rebounding edge, only six of those 19 boards were on the offensive end. Bryant had eight.
Grant Johnson and Devin Holmes led the Hornets with 9 points each. Trent Ford and Jace Ruffner added 5 each. Joseph Nelson finished with 4 and Jameson Lewis 3. Though he did not score, Cairon Allen led the Hornets with six rebounds.
Allen and Holmes took turns matching up with Cabot North’s Gavin Langford. They held him scoreless in the game.
Charlie Powell finished with 8 for the Panthers. No one else had more than 4.
Johnson and Ford each hit 3’s in the first quarter as the Hornets built a 6-2 lead. Brayden Hall scored late in the period to pull the Panthers within 2.
Scoring was at a premium in the second quarter. The Hornets held the Panthers without a point. Holmes hit a free throw for Bryant, the lone make out of six tries at the line for Bryant. With 3:58 left in the half, Allen went to the line after grabbing an offensive rebound. Though he missed both shots, Lewis grabbed the lone rebound off the second miss and tossed in a 3 to make it 10-4.
That proved to be the halftime score.
The Hornets were trying to whip the ball around the perimeter in hopes of getting the Panthers’ zone defense out of position of late in adjusting.
“We did better in the second half,” Posey noted. “The first half we struggled to move it a little bit. They ran a 2-3 zone on us, and we didn’t get the ball moving side to side, but we were able to do that there in the second half. We got more open looks and got a ball or two inside and we were able to get a few more of the shots we like.”
The opening play of the third quarter worked to get an open look at another triple for Johnson. Free throws by Hall then a basket by Powell had the Hornets’ advantage at 13-7. But Ford fed Johnson for another 3 that started a 12-2 run to end the period.
A basket by Ford forced a Cabot North timeout. But when play resumed, the Hornets worked the ball around to get a good look inside for Joseph Nelson. He scored off a lob from Ruffner to make it 20-7.
Ford followed with a steal, but the Hornets turned it back over to the Panthers who got a stickback from their big center Matt Conners, his lone hoop of the night.
Ford missed a 3 but, at the other end, Nelson blocked Hall’s shot and the ball went over to the Hornets out of bounds. Ruffner cashed in with a 3 to extend the margin to 14. A Cabot turnover led to a basket inside for Nelson off a sweet high-low feed from Allen, which made it 25-9 going into the fourth quarter.
Powell scored to open the final period but, after another block by Nelson, Holmes drained a triple and Ruffner made a steal and layup to extend the Hornets’ lead to 30-11.
After Powell scored again, Holmes drove the lane and scored. He would cap the Bryant scoring with 1:33 to go, drilling a trey from the corner to make it 35-16.
Both coaches emptied their benches and Cabot North scored the final two buckets to close out the game.
HORNETS 35, PANTHERS 21
Score by quarters
Cabot North 4 0 5 12 — 21
BRYANT 6 4 15 10 — 35
Powell 4-8 0-1 8, Langford 0-6 0-0 0, Decker 0-1 0-0 0, Conners 1-2 0-0 2, Hall 1-6 2-4 4, Walthall 1-2 0-0 3, Sims 1-1 0-0 2, Sheets 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Veazey 0-0 0-0 0, Carroll 1-1 0-0 2, Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-27 (33%) 2-5 (40%) 21.
Ford 2-7 0-0 5, G.Johnson 3-7 0-2 9, Lewis 1-5 0-0 3, Holmes 3-7 1-2 9, Nelson 2-4 0-0 4, Allen 0-2 0-2 0, Ruffner 2-5 0-0 5, Baugh 0-0 0-0 0, Belleton 0-1 0-0 0, Johns 0-0 0-0 0, Pitts 0-1 0-0 0, A.Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Myles 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-39 (33%) 1-6 (17%) 35.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 8-20 (G.Johnson 3-6, Holmes 2-3, Ruffner 1-4, Lewis 1-3, Ford 1-2, Nelson 0-1, Belleton 0-1), Cabot North 1-2 (Walthall 1-1, Powell 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 7, Cabot North 18.Rebounds: Bryant 8-14 22 (Allen 1-5 6, G.Johnson 2-3 5, Ruffner 1-3 4, Nelson 1-2 3, Lewis 2-0 2, Ford 1-1 2), Cabot North 6-19 25 (Langford 3-3 6, Conners 2-4 6, Hall 0-3 3, Powell 0-2 2, Decker 0-2 2, Walthall 0-2 2, Sims 0-1 1, Brown 0-1 1, Carroll 1-0 1, team 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 8, Cabot North 4.