Photos by Kevin Nagle
With time running down following a timeout by the Bryant Hornets freshman team with :24 left, Brandon Harris received a pass on the left baseline extended once then twice. The Hornets were tied 23-23 with the Lake Hamilton Junior Wolves and they were working for a good shot, probing a trapping 1-3-1 zone.
Harris took a pass at that same spot for a third time and, instead of looking inside then passing it back out to Garrett Cowart, he took up the slack the Wolves’ defense was giving him and popped an 10-foot jumper. With :08 showing, the shot nestled into the cords to snap the deadlock.
Lake Hamilton got a timeout with :05.8 to go and got a shot from 3-point range that Noah Rengstorf launched under duress. It missed and the Hornets had extracted a 25-23 win.
Both teams shot like it was their first game back after a holiday layoff. The Wolves were 7 of 21 from the field (33 percent) while the Hornets hit 9 of 35 (26 percent). Bryant’s effort was aided by Lake Hamilton’s frustrations at the free-throw line. While the Hornets were converting 7 of 10, the Wolves went to the line 22 times but only converted eight (36 percent).
“The layoff might have had an effect but I don’t like using that as an excuse,” stated Hornets coach Tyler Posey. “We got in a practice Saturday morning after Thanksgiving and I thought we had a pretty good practice. I thought we were ready.
“Overall, I thought it was a poor game for us,” he added. “We just came out so tense. There was no sense of urgency and it showed. We didn’t finish a lot of things under the basket and I believe that’s a lack of focus, lack of intensity and not going up strong.”
Too, the Hornets had a few shots blocked early and it seemed to make them hesitate on layups in traffic. They were 4 of 24 from the field in the first half, which ended with the game tied 10-10.
Bryant led 6-5 at the end of the first quarter on baskets by John Winston and Calvin Allen, who also hit a free throw.
Winston would led the Hornets with 7 points and six rebounds. Allen added 6 points as did Harris, who had all 5 of his in the last three minutes of the game.
Larenz Nero paced the Wolves with 10 points and six boards. Andrew Bennett finished with 8 points and five rebounds.
A layup by Kyle Sahr had the Hornets up 8-5 early in the second quarter but they went five minutes without scoring. Bennett scored off an offensive rebound then nailed a 3 to put the Wolves ahead 10-8 before Marvin Moody ended Bryant’s drought with a driving jumper with :08 left in the half to knot it.
Caylin Allen took a charge on a drive by Nero to start the second half and Winston cashed it in by draining a 12-footer. Missed free throws by the Wolves gave the Hornets a chance to build on their 12-10 lead. Calvin Allen drove for a bucket then fed Moody for a layup to make it 17-12 with 2:05 left in the third period.
Winston made a steal but the Hornets turned it back over. Moody made a steal but Harris misfired. So when Nero produced the first Lake Hamilton field goal of the second half with 1:13 left in the third, Bryant’s lead was just 17-14.
But, in the closing seconds, Calvin Allen made a steal and Winston got to the line where he converted twice to bump the lead back to 5.
Though they had opportunities to overtake the Hornets, the Wolves’ continued struggles at the line only allowed them to inch ahead 20-19 going into the final three minutes.
Harris nailed a 10-footer to put Bryant back on top at 2:52. Cowart then made a steal and Harris wound up at the line where he converted twice to make it a 23-20 lead going into the final two minutes.
With 1:15 to go, Ramar Easter went to the line for the Wolves and converted once to make it a two-point game. Bryant turned the ball over and Nero drove to the rack for a tying basket with :50 to go.
Both teams had chances to change the score but suffered turnovers. With :24 to go, Bryant had possession and Posey called timeout to settle his team down. They were patient and Harris wound up with the game-winner.
The win improved Bryant to 5-2 on the season going into a game at Conway White this Thursday.
JUNIOR HORNETS 25, JUNIOR WOLVES 23
Score by quarters
Lake Hamilton 5 3 4 9 — 23
BRYANT 6 4 9 6 — 25
JUNIOR WOLVES 23
Nero 4-8 2-5 10, Rengstorf 1-3 1-4 3, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Easter 0-2 2-4 2, Bennett 2-3 3-5 8, Lewis 0-0 0-2 0, Harper 0-3 0-0 0, Aitken 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 7-21 8-22 23.
JUNIOR HORNETS 25
CalAllen 2-11 2-4 6, Cowart 0-1 0-0 0, CayAllen 0-3 0-0 0, Moody 2-3 0-0 4, Winston 2-3 3-4 7, Turner 0-1 0-0 0, J.Allen 0-1 0-0 0, Harris 2-7 2-2 6, Sahr 1-2 0-0 2, Handly 0-0 0-0 0, Kelly 0-3 0-0 0, McIntosh 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-35 7-10 25.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 0-10 (Harris 0-3, Cal.Allen 0-1, Cowart 0-1, Cay.Allen 0-1, Moody 0-1, Winston 0-1, Turner 0-1, J.Allen 0-1), Lake Hamilton 1-5 (Bennett 1-1, Rengstorf 0-2, Harper 0-2). Rebounds: Bryant 26 (Winston 6, Cal.Allen, Cay.Allen 5), Lake Hamilton 21 (Nero 6). Turnovers: Bryant 18, Lake Hamilton 19. Team fouls: Bryant 19, Lake Hamilton 9.