Hornets’ amazing comeback gets game to overtime but win evades them

Photos by Kevin Nagle

JonLuke Sprout (10) twist to get a shot away over a Russellville defender. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

JonLuke Sprout (10) twist to get a shot away over a Russellville defender. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Using a three-quarter-court zone trap, the Bryant Hornets freshman basketball team put together a furious fourth-quarter rally to wipe out a 16-point deficit to the Russellville Whirlwinds Monday night. Tristan Calhoun, who scored all 14 of his points during that blitz, sank a shot off a drive down the left side of the lane at the buzzer to tie it up 43-43.

But, in overtime, Russellville’s Ryan Talley scored on a running jumper and, after a Bryant miss, nailed a 3-pointer to spark his team to a 52-43 win. The Hornets, relegated to firing up 3’s once they got down, went scoreless in the extra period.

The loss wound up the pre-Christmas schedule for the Hornets. They are set to return to action on Saturday, Dec. 27, against Hot Springs in the annual Kameron Hale Invitational Tournament at Lake Hamilton.

The Hornets opened the game well, building an 11-5 advantage by the end of the first quarter. Brandon Hill hit a pair of jumpers in the lane for the first 4 points then, with Russellville up 5-4, Calhoun fed Brooks Ellis inside for what turned into a three-point play and a 7-5 lead.

Later, Ellis scored off the offensive glass and Sam Chumley converted a pair of free throws with :03.9 showing on the clock.

But the Whirlwinds scored the first 7 points of the second quarter including a 3-pointer by Javion White. Russellville started to get penetration against the Hornets’ man-to-man defense, quickly getting to the hole before the help defense would arrive. And when the Hornets got there, the ‘Winds did a good job of kicking it outside for 3-poiners. They were 5 of 10 from the arc in the game.

The Hornets hung around. Matthew Sandidge scored off an assist from Chumley to end the Bryant dryspell and it came in time to put them back on top 13-12. JonLuke Sprout followed up with a basket but Russellville erased that 15-12 deficit and, with a late spurt, built a 23-17 halftime lead.

Malcolm Moody looks to get a shot away. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Malcolm Moody looks to get a shot away. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Despite baskets by Ellis and Luke Curtis in the third quarter, Russellville, sparked by Josiah Woodard and Gunnar Howerton, pushed the lead to 37-21 with just over a minute left in the third quarter.

Sprout hit a free throw and, in the final seconds, Curtis followed his own miss and it was 39-24 going into the fourth quarter.

The run continued as the new period unfolded. Hill hit a layup and the Hornets forced a turnover. Curtis was fouled on a move to the hoop. He stepped to the line and suddenly the lead was down to 9.

Talley drove for a basket but, at the other end, Calhoun grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. His knocked down both shots and it was 39-30 with 4:39 left.

A 3 by Talley gave the Whirlwinds some of the momentum back but it didn’t last long as Calhoun drove, scored and was fouled, resulting in a three-point play to match Talley’s bucket.

Another Russellville turnover led to a missed opportunity for Bryant and, with 3:22 left, the Whirlwinds started to spread the floor and eat some clock. And the fact that the Hornets had committed just two team fouls in the half made them have to come out more aggressively on defense.

Luke Curtis (25) gets a shot over a Russellville defender. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Luke Curtis (25) gets a shot over a Russellville defender. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

A free throw by White off a drive with 2:35 left made it a 10-point game. But Calhoun drained a 3. Curtis made a steal but his shot was blocked. Hill tried to followed but couldn’t get the shot to fall.

Russellville came back the other way but turned it over again as Curtis picked off a pass. Calhoun got inside but had his shot rejected. He stayed with it though and was fouled on the follow. Two more free throws whittled the margin to 43-38.

Curtis combined with Malcolm Moody to force a turnover and, with :47 left, Calhoun was fouled on a 3-point try. Though he only made one, he was able to track down the carom off the third shot and score, trimming the lead to 43-41.

The Hornets finally committed the seventh team foul to send the Whirlwinds to the line in the bonus with :26.9 showing though it cost them Curtis, who fouled out. But Seth Plummer missed the front end of the one-and-one, Sprout rebounded and Hornets coach Tyler Posey called a timeout with :22.6 on the clock.

When play resumed, the Hornets worked the Russellville defense until Calhoun got a lane with time running out, got to the rim and scored to send it to overtime after the unbelievable comeback.

Things just didn’t go Bryant’s way in the extra period. Trailing 48-43 the Hornets fouled Talley with 1:05 to go. He obliged by missing both shots. After Talley made a steal and missed a shot, Plummer rebounded and, with :47.5 left, Bryson George went to the line. He converted his first shot but missed his second.

Trailing by 6 — still a two-possession game — the Hornets were not able to secure the rebound. Woodard claimed it and, with :34.5 to go, Howerton added a free throw. He too missed the second shot only to have Talley flash for the carom.

In most frustrating fashion, the Hornets watched their chances of pulling out a win fade. George got another try at the line and converted twice with :23.3 to go, setting the final 9-point margin.

Hill finished with 9 points, Ellis 7 and Curtis 6 to go with a game-high 10 rebounds and three steals. Talley finished with a game-high 16. Howerton scored 12 and Woodard 10.

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