Freshman Hornets run with Cats but fall short at the end

Photos by Kevin Nagle

Darren Wallace goes up for a shot over a pair of North Little Rock defenders. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats freshman team often sets the standard for the teams in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference. If that’s the case again this season, then the Bryant Hornets freshmen may be right with them.

The first indication of that came Thursday night in a non-conference match-up between the two teams. Despite foul trouble, the Hornets ran with the Cats all night. But too many missed layups — admittedly, many in traffic at full speed and threatened by North Little Rock’s big men — hurt the Hornets. Darren Wallace helped keep the Hornets alive with five 3-pointers including three in the fourth quarter but, in the end, North Little Rock came away with a 61-52 victory.

The game was tied 18-18 midway through the second quarter but two of Bryant’s top guards, Jordan Knox and Braylen Montgomery had to go to the bench with two fouls. The Charging Wildcats closed the half with a 15-7 push then maintained in the second half. The Hornets cut the margin to 6 midway through the fourth quarter but could get no closer.

Wallace finished with 23 points. Chris Gannaway added 9 and Nasir Vincent 7 off the bench. North Little Rock had three players in double figures. One of those, a post player, kept getting fouled as he scored. He had a chance at four “and-ones” along the way but wound up converting just 1 of 8 from the line. Another, a guard, got hot from 3-point range in the second quarter, hitting four from distance to help fuel the Wildcats’ surge into the lead for good.

Nasir Vincent (32) gets loose inside for a shot. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Knox started the scoring with a 15-foot jumper. After the Cats improved took a 3-2 edge, Wallace, off a feed from James Billingsley, drained his first triple to give the Hornets a 5-3 edge.

In fact, a 3 by Billingsley off a feed from Montgomery then a basket by Wallace as he was fouled and a free throw by Vincent had the Hornets up 11-6.

North Little Rock, however, scored the last six points of the opening quarter to take a 12-11 lead into the second stanza.

A follow shot by Vincent inside put Bryant back on top in the early stages of the period. North Little Rock hit a 3 but Gannaway drove for a short jumper to tie it 15-15. After another triple for the Cats, Jaylon Russ’ old-fashioned three-point play knotted it at 18.

But before Bryant could score again, North Little Rock pushed out to a 26-18 lead.

Wallace and Billingsley each scored to whittle that margin to 4 but North Little Rock wound up with a 33-25 lead at the half.

James Billingsley (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

As he had the first half, Knox took it to the rack for the first points of the second half. But North Little Rock built the lead to has much as 14. 

It was 43-29 before Vincent scored inside. Montgomery made a steal and wound up at the free-throw line. Though he missed both shots, he tracked down the carom off the second miss and got the ball to Gannaway who drove for a bucket. Off another Cats’ turnover — Bryant forced 16 of them — Wallace hit from 15 feet to trim the margin to 43-35.

It was 45-39 going into the fourth quarter.

Less than two minutes in, however, Knox fouled out. A 3 by Wallace kept the Hornets within 6 at 48-42. But that was the Hornets’ lone basket through the first 3:47 of the fourth quarter. The North Little Rock led swelled to 12 again. 

Wallace and Gannaway scored to trim that down to 7 but North Little Rock held on.

The two teams play in conference at Bryant on Jan. 30. Bryant’s next outing is at Hot Springs on Monday, Dec. 9.

CHARGING WILDCATS 61, HORNETS 52

Score by quarters

BRYANT           11        14        14        13 — 52

No.Little Rock 12        21        12        16 — 61

HORNETS 52

Knox 2-4 0-0 4, Gannaway 4-11 1-2 9, Billingsley 2-8 0-0 5, Gilmore 0-7 0-0 0, Russ 1-1 1-1 3, Wallace 9-17 0-1 23, Montgomery 0-2 1-4 1, Vinson 3-7 1-2 7, Reed 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-58 4-10 52.

CHARGING WILDCATS 61

Cole 8-14 0-0 20, Jackson 6-12 0-1 12, Boyd 2-3 0-0 4, Bryant 0-4 3-6 3, Young 6-10 1-8 13, K.Robinson 3-5 1-5 7, J.Robinson 0-1 0-0 0, Verser 0-1 0-0 0, Frazier 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Roland 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-53 5-20 61.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-22 (Wallace 5-9, Billingsley 1-6, Gilmore 0-5, Gannaway 0-1, Reed 0-1), North Little Rock 4-11 (Cole 4-7, Jackson 0-1, Bryant 0-1, K.Robinson 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 13, North Little Rock 16. Rebounds: Bryant 13-22 35 (Knox 0-6 6, Russ 4-2 6, Vincent 3-2 5, Wallace 2-2 4, Billingsley 1-2 3, Gilmore 0-3 3, Gannaway 1-1 2, Montgomery 1-1 2, team 1-3 4), North Little Rock 14-26 40 (Young 6-7 13, Jackson 1-9 10, Bryant 3-1 4, K.Robinson 0-3 3, Boyd 2-0 2, Cole 0-1 1, Roland 1-0 1, team 1-5 6). Team fouls: Bryant 17, North Little Rock 11. Fouled out: Bryant, Knox.



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