MORRILTON — From the beginning of the 2018-19 season, Bryant Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson acknowledged that rebounding would be a challenge for his team, at least until closer to Christmas.
On Wednesday night at the 11thannual Petit Jean basketball Classic at Devil Dog Arena, the Hornets were out-rebounded 33-26 by the Greenbrier Panthers. That included a 14-board night for 6-7 senior post A.J. Matthews, whom, at times, the Hornets had no answer for.
And while Matthews was on his way 21 points inside against the smaller Hornets, his teammates for the Panthers knocked down 7 of 13 shots from 3-point range. But, most importantly, Greenbrier converted 18 of 22 free throws in the game, including 10 of 11 in the fourth quarter.
That led to the Panthers’ 65-61 win over the Hornets. Greenbrier, now 6-1, advances to the Classic championship against the host team, which prevailed over Maumelle on Wednesday. Bryant, now 3-3, and Maumelle will play in the consolation game at 4:15 p.m.
The Hornets led for most of their game against Greenbrier. They would push the lead out to 8 or 10 but Greenbrier kept hanging in, cutting it back to 2 of 4.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Panthers broke through to gain the lead on a three-point play by Matthews with 4:59 left. It was Greenbrier’s first field goal of the period. They had tied it on free throws by Juwan Clifton and 6-6 Mason Matthews.
It was tight the rest of the way. A driving jumper by Treylon Payne put the Hornets back on top only to have Mason Matthews converted two more free throws for the lead with 4:10 left to play.
The Hornets had two chances to answer. A turnover cost them the first try then Payne, who hit three 3’s in the game, missed from long range.
In turn, Greenbrier’s Kobe Dunlap popped a 3 to. Make it a 4-point lead. Bryant’s Khalen Robinson found the range in answer but Clifton drilled a triple and, after the Hornets missed two shots at biting into a 60-56 deficit, A.J. Mathews scored inside off a short baseline drive.
With 1:48 left, the Panthers had their largest lead of the game at 62-56.
Robinson drained another trey to keep the Hornets in it. Greenbrier missed two chances to increase the margin before Robinson was fouled grabbing a rebound.
With a bonus opportunity, Robinson could have made it a one-point game, but his first shot rimmed out.
At the other end, both of Brady Jerry’s free throws fell. Another empty trip to the stripe, cost the Hornets further so when Jerry hit two more with :09.6 left, the Panthers had their largest lead again.
Colby Washington scored at the buzzer to make it a 4-point difference at the end.
To go with A.J. Matthews’ 21-14 line, Dunlap finished with 14 points, Clifton 10 and Mason Matthews 9.
For the Hornets, Payne, Robinson and Camren Hunter each had 17 to combine for 51 of the Hornets’ 61 points. Senior Rodney Lambert was held to 4 points due to some foul trouble and Greenbrier’s collapsing zone defense, which made it difficult for Lambert to drive.
Hunter, Bryant’s point guard, led his team in rebounding with seven.
The Panthers rushed to an 8-2 start to the game. Payne nailed consecutive 3’s to tie it. After a free throws by Greenbrier’s Chole Linn, the Hornets surged into the lead, keyed by changing press defenses.
Payne hit a layup then A.J. Jenkins scored off a turnover. Robinson finished a drive then, on an inbounds play on their end, Robinson fed Lambert for a basket and a 22-12 lead.
Before the quarter was over, however, Evan Webb, in off the bench, whittled a basket off the margin, making it 22-14 going into the second stanza.
Dillon and Clifton each hit 3’s and, in between, Dunlap canned three of them. With 2:03 left in the half, Greenbrier held a 29-28 edge.
Payne countered with a triple then both teams missed chances to change the score before Mason Matthews beat the buzzer with a jay in the lane to tie the game, 31-31.
Hunter scored 9 of his points in the third quarter including a three-point play with 2:58 left in the period, which had the Hornets ahead, 47-38.
And when Hunter followed with a steal, there was chance to further widen the margin. But the Hornets turned it back over to the Panthers and A.J. Matthews got free for a layup.
Bryant had three chances to push the lead back out but came up empty. The third shot at it was negated by a hotly disputed charge call against Jenkins.
That led to a three-point play by A.J. Matthews then a pair of free throws by Evan Dillon trimmed Bryant’s lead to 47-45 going into the fourth quarter.
Hunter extended the margin with a tough layup to start the fourth quarter only to have Greenbrier surge into the lead late.
PANTHERS 65, HORNETS 61
Score by quarters
Greenbrier 14 17 14 20 — 65
BRYANT 22 9 16 14 — 61
PANTHERS (6-1) 65
Linn 0-0 1-2 1, Dunlap 5-11 0-0 14, A.Matthews 8-14 4-6 21, M.Matthews 2-3 5-6 9, Clifton 3-9 2-2 10, Jerry 0-2 3-4 3, Biggars 0-1 0-0 0, Dillon 1-3 2-2 5, Webb 1-1 0-0 2. Totals20-44 (45%) 18-22 (82%) 65.
HORNETS (3-3) 61
Hunter 6-8 4-4 17, Robinson 7-18 0-3 17, Payne 7-20 0-0 17, Lambert 1-4 2-2 4, Washington 1-1 0-0 2, Jenkins 1-1 2-2 4, Hall 0-1 0-0 0, Montgomery 0-1 0-0 0, Adams 0-0 0-0 0, West 0-1 0-0 0. Totals23-55 (42%) 8-11 (73%) 61.
Three-point field goals:Bryant 7-23 (Payne 3-10, Robinson 3-9, Hunter 1-2, Lambert 0-1, West 0-1), Greenbrier 7-13 (Dunlap 4-7, Clifton 2-5, Dillon 1-1). Turnovers:Bryant 19, Greenbrier 24. Rebounds:Bryant 13-13 26 (Hunter 2-5 7, Lambert 2-3 5, Hall 3-1 4, Robinson 2-1 3, Washington 1-2 3, Payne 0-1 1, Jenkins 1-0 1, Mongromery 1-0 1, team 1-0 1), Greenbrier 13-20 33 (A.Matthews 6-8 14, Clifton 0-5 5, Dunlap 2-3 5, M.Matthews 3-1 4, Linn 1-1 2, Dillon 0-1 1, team 1-1 2). Team fouls:Bryant 18, Greenbrier 13. Fouled out:Bryant, Lambert.