Freshman Hornets’ rugged season concludes with loss to league champion

CONWAY — In frustratingly familiar fashion, the Bryant Hornets freshman team went through a nearly 10-minute stretch of a 24-minute game without a field goal against the Conway White Wampus Cats on Thursday night.

Between Jake Forst’s basket with :14 left in the first quarter and Tristan Calhoun’s drive for a bucket with 2:10 left in the third quarter, Conway White’s 9-8 edge turned into a 30-12 lead.

In the end, the Wampus Cats clinched at least a tie for the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference championship and the top seed for the league’s post-season tournament with a 50-24 victory.

The Hornets’ star-crossed season concludes at 3-20 overall, 0-9 in conference play, one of the two teams in the 10-team league that does not advance to the tournament.

Calhoun wound up the leading scorer in the game with 10 points. Brooks Ellis had 6 for the Hornets, Brandon Hill 3, Sam Chumley and Forst 2 each with Luke Curtis adding a free throw. Conway, however, had two players with 9 and nine in all who contributed to the scoring.

It took a while for the Cats to shake the Hornets. Ellis’ offensive rebound basket answered an opening 3 for Conway White. Calhoun’s layup off a baseline drive countered the second bucket by the Cats.

After two Conway free throws, Calhoun rifled a pass to Ellis for a layup to make it 7-6. Forst’s jumper came in response to a stickback for Conway and made it 9-8 going into the second quarter.

Using an effective zone trap, the Wampus Cats forced 21 turnovers in the game. A pair of those produced the first two baskets of the second period. Curtis hit a free throw at the 4:01 mark but that proved to be the lone Bryant point of the quarter.

Conway surged to a 23-9 halftime lead and continued the onslaught in the third quarter.

A layup for the Cats was answered by a free throw from Calhoun. Conway, however, scored the next 5 points to make it 30-10. Chumley converted twice at the line and, after a Conway miss, Calhoun ended the field goal drought. He then made a steal that he cashed in from the 3-point arc, cutting the lead to 30-17.

Conway White responded with a 10-2 burst. The Cats led 36-19 then 40-19 before Calhoun and Ellis worked a give-and-go for a basket with 3:21 left.

The rest of the game, the only Bryant scoring came on three free throws by Hill.

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