Hornets’ 23-4 run in the second half leaves Rockets in their wake

By Rob Patrick

Photos by Rick Nation 

MAUMELLE — The Bryant Hornets ended the first half with a 10-0 run that wasn’t[more] actually, then put together a 23-4 blitz in the second half that was nothing short of the real thing as they ran off with a 51-32 win over the Little Rock Catholic Rockets Thursday night.

Bryant's Zach Cambron, left, takes a charge, one of three on the night, as Catholic's Sam Greenwood drives to the basket. (Photo by Rick Nation)

The game was the first in a trio of games at the OrthoArkansas/Baptist Health Tournament at Central Arkansas Christian Academy. The Hornets, now 2-0 (3-0 if you count their benefit game win over Vilonia) is set to take on Maumelle this evening at 7.

Bryant led 15-14 with 3:22 left in the first half. Ryan Hall hit two free throws to extend the margin then Catholic’s D.J. Brown scored on a driving jumper. But the scorekeeper at CAC mistakenly gave the basket to Bryant’s number 11, Strodney Davis, instead of Catholic’s, Brown, making it 19-14 instead of 17-16.

Zach Cambron posted up for a basket to keep the run going for the Hornets. C.J. Rainey canned a 12-footer then Greyson Giles beat the buzzer with a layup to make it 25-14 (when it should’ve been 23-16).

The Rockets were within 28-20 halfway through the third quarter and had a chance to get closer but Cambron set up and absorbed his third charge of the game. That led to a three-point play by Strodney Davis that started Bryant’s game-breaking blitz.

C.J. Rainey (3) fires a shot over Catholic's Corey Smith. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Bryant’s hustling man-to-man defense was relentless and effective against the always patient Rockets. The two teams were members of the Central Conference in recent years and played annually. That patience and an active zone defense by the Rockets often served to frustrate past Hornets teams and it looked like it might be that way again Thursday when the Rockets pushed out to a 7-0 lead out of the gate. The Hornets didn’t score their first points until the 2:31 mark of the first quarter when K.J. Hill hit a running jumper.

“I was very disappointed in the way we started the game,” stated Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson. “I thought Cambron and Rainey did a very nice job of playing hard from the start, trying to set the tone. But we had other guys that were dragging us down and holding us back. Once we got more people on board with that tone, it kind of opened up a little bit.”

Bryant trailed 8-6 after a quarter then didn’t gain the lead until Luke Rayburn, who provided some quality minutes off the bench when Hill got into foul trouble, hit a free throw and Cambron followed with a basket inside to make it 12-11. On the defensive end, Cambron absorbed a charge and it led eventually to a three-point play by Rainey that put the Hornets ahead for good.

Strodney Davis works the ball to the left wing. (Photo by Rick Nation)

A basket by William Hancock and free throws by Corey Smith pulled the Rockets back within 15-14 with 3:22 left in the half, leading to the somewhat confused Bryant run to end the half.

Of Cambron, who was named player of the game for the Hornets, Abrahamson said, “He’s not a shot blocker, so he has to (take charges). He’s bought into that. He’s a senior now. He’s a leader on our team. It’s a game-changer, those kind of plays. I saw him at the beginning of the game, trying to lead, trying to encourage others and get them to pick it up and get they to his energy level. He was big and he’ll be real excited about that 3 too.”

Ah, yes.

During the second-half surge, Cambron beat the buzzer ending the third quarter with a 3-pointer that extended the Bryant lead to 41-20.

Catholic had opened the third quarter with a 6-3 stretch capped by two free throws from Scott Diaz at the 4:45 mark. But that proved to be the Rockets’ last points of the period. They didn’t score again until the 5:22 mark of the final quarter. By then, Bryant led 43-20.

Greyson Giles (Photo by Rick Nation)

Defense, Abrahamson acknowledged, will be a key ingredient to Hornet success this season.

“It kind of has to be,” he emphasized. “We’re smaller but we’ve got some depth, I hope, at the guard spot. Cambron and Reed, I like them in the post. They’re just a little undersized. We’re going to have to create opportunities for them with our guard play.”

Rainey and Hill led the Hornets with 10 points each. Nine of the 10 players that got into the game added to the point production for Bryant. Davis, with his bonus basket in the first half, wound up with 8. Rayburn had 5. That helped make up for the fact that starters Tyler Simmons and Giles combined for 5 points after they accounted for 27 between them in the team’s previous win over Fort Smith Southside.

After hitting just 1 of 8 from 3-point range in the first half, the Hornets knocked down 5 of 7 from beyond the arc in the second half.

“I know we’re going to be a team that shoots 3’s but it’s how we get them,” Abrahamson explained. “I don’t want to be just passing it around the perimeter and crank one up. I want to be attacking and make people help then kick and go and be in a rhythm. I didn’t feel we had that from the start.

Luke Rayburn (Photo by Rick Nation)

“Playing tomorrow and Saturday, we’re going to need people like Simmons and Giles to be the players they’re capable of being for us,” he added. “That’s the main thing I’m disappointed in. We need them to help us reach our potential.”

Bryant plays against host CAC on Saturday at 6 p.m. 

The Hornets broke Thursday's game open after Davis’ three-point play. A Catholic turnover led to a drive by Hill for a bucket. Jumping into a press, the Hornets forced the Rockets to turn it over again when they were unable to inbounds the ball. Moments later, Cambron scored inside. And when Rainey tacked on a 3 with 1:21 left in the third quarter, the Rockets took a timeout.

They would have two chances to cut into the 38-20 margin but both times turnovers resulted. The Hornets took advantage of the second miscue when Cambron banked in his 3 at the buzzer.
To start the fourth quarter, Rainey drove into the lane for a bucket off a pull-up jay. Sam Greenwood answered, breaking the Rockets’ long dry spell but Davis canned a 3 from the corner then made a steal. Hill fed Rayburn for a layup and it was 48-22.

Corey Smith’s layup for Catholic was trumped by Rainey’s 3, producing Bryant’s largest lead at 51-24 with 3:31 left to play.

HORNETS 51, ROCKETS 32

Score by quarters

Catholic 8 6 6 12 — 32

BRYANT 6 19 16 10 — 51 

ROCKETS (0-1) 32

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts

o-d-t 

Greenwood 3-3 0-0 0-1 1 1 6

Luther 0-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Smith 2-4 2-6 1-1 2 0 6

Hancock 1-2 0-0 1-2 3 3 2

Morse 0-1 2-4 0-1 1 0 2

Morris 2-4 0-1 0-1 1 1 4

Godsey 0-0 1-4 0-2 2 1 1

Nwchuku 0-1 0-0 0-2 2 2 0

Cronin 0-1 0-0  0-1 1 2 0

Brown 0-2 0-0  0-0 0 2 0

Pence 2-2 1-1 0-0 0 0 5

Diaz 0-0 2-2 0-1 1 0 2

Wilson 1-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 2

Allen 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2

Moody 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team 0-0 0

Totals 12-25 8-18 2-13 15 12 32

HORNETS (3-0) 51

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts

o-d-t

Rainey 4-7 1-3 1-2 3 1 10 

Hill 4-6 0-0 0-1 1 4 10

Simmons 1-3 0-0 0-1 1 0 3

Giles 1-3 0-0 0-4 4 1 2

Cambron 4-5 0-0 0-2 2 1 9

Rayburn 2-8 1-2 2-2 4 1 5

Davis 3-3 1-1 0-2 2 4 8

Reed 1-2 0-0 0-2 2 4 2

Hall 0-0 2-2 1-0 1 2 2

Crosby 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team 0-1 1

Totals 20-37 5-8 4-17 21 18 51

Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-14 (Hill 2-2, Rainey 1-4, Simmons 1-3, Cambron 1-1, Davis 1-1, Rayburn 0-3, Giles 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 15, LR Catholic 16.


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