Hornets answer Wolves’ comeback to win freshman showdown in overtime

For more photos of this event by Kevin Nagle, go here

Gabe George (24) scores over Lake Hamilton’s Zac Pannington (22). (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Demetrius Sanders came off the bench to score 18 points and collect 13 rebounds to spur the Bryant Hornets freshman team to a 58-53 win in overtime against the Lake Hamilton Wolves in Central Arkansas Junior High Conference action at the Bryant Middle School gym on Thursday night.

The Hornets improved to 11-4 overall and 3-0 in league play heading into a trip to Little Rock Catholic on Monday.

Lake Hamilton had accounted for two of the Hornets’ losses, once in a regular-season non-conference game, 45-43, on Nov. 12 and in the championship of the Wolves’ Kameron Hale Invitational Tournament, 38-28, on Dec. 29. The loss dropped Lake Hamilton to 1-2 in league play.

“That’s a really good team,” said Hornets coach Tyler Posey. “They were missing their big (center Chase Jessup) and that hurt them. But we can’t control that. We did enough to win and I’m really proud of the guys for that.”

Gabe George finished with 14 points for the Hornets. Will Diggins had 10 points and seven boards. Isaiah Kearney pitched in with 7 points. Landyn Newburn and Cameron Booth each hit crucial free throws in the overtime period.

Hayden McDougal paced the Wolves with 11 points. Ethan Watson, Zac Pennington and Gavin Robbins each had 10. Cade Robinson finished with 8 including the 3-pointer that tied the game and another in overtime to keep the Wolves close.

Will Diggins scores inside. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

The Hornets appeared to be in control when, with 2:30 left in the game, they held a 43-32 lead. But, after a timeout, the Wolves jumped into a press and, with only two team fouls in the half at that point, got rewarded for their aggressiveness, forcing six Bryant turnovers down the stretch after Bryant had suffered only five through three quarters.

The Hornets clung to the lead until, in the final 10 seconds, Pennington scored to cut the Bryant lead to 45-43 then Robinson beat the buzzer with a 3 to tie it at 46.

“We built that 11-point lead there in the fourth and they started to pick it up a little bit,” Posey noted. “We seemed to get a little nervous and panicked and turned it over a few times. They got some easy baskets and they hit some tough shots too. We just kind of let them back into it.

In the overtime, Diggins opened the scoring with a bucket off the offensive glass, one of 19 offensive rebounds for the Hornets in the game. McDougal answered for the Wolves then, with 2:28 left, George was fouled. Though he missed the front end of the one-and-one, Sanders rebounded, scored and was fouled. He converted the free throw to make it 51-48 and the Hornets were ahead to stay.

Josh Mendoza goes up for a shot. (Photo by Rick Nation)

“I really wanted to get the ball in the hands of Landyn or Gabe, some of our better free-throw shooters,” the coach mentioned. “They were full-out denying so I was trying to send one of them deep. The pass was there a couple of times, but we didn’t lead out in front (with the pass). We kind of left it short. They were able to get their hands on it, tip it and steal one or two of those. It didn’t put us in a good situation to try to play some defense out of a turnover like that.”

The Wolves had three shots under the basket that refused to go and, with :48.2 showing, Booth was fouled again. He made one, extending the margin to 4, a two-possession lead.

With :41 to go, Pennington made a tough shot inside. In turn, Newburn knocked down a free throw leaving the Wolves within 3.

But it remained nip-and-tuck. Diggins made a steal and Booth converted a pair of free throws to make it 53-48. But that’s when Robinson drained his second triple, cutting it to 2. Sanders answered with a free throw but missed his second shot, so it remained a one-possession game.

Landyn Newburn gets a layup on the glass in front of Lake Hamilton’s Gavin Robbins (13). (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

The lid was on the basket in the first quarter, which ended with Bryant leading 4-3.

A miss and an outlet pass to Newburn resulted in a game-clinching layup.

Both teams started to heat it up in the second stanza. Lake Hamilton built a 12-9 lead with a jolt from Matthew Carmack off the bench. 

With 1:50 left in the half, Kearney came through with a three-point play to tie the game. In the final 30 seconds, Sanders followed his own miss with a bucket and George converted two free throws to make it 16-12 at the break.

Bryant steadily built as much as a 12-point lead in the third, when George scored 11 of his points. Lake Hamilton was within 22-19 before a three-point play by George at the 4:10 mark. Robbins misfired for the Wolves and George drove for a layup to make it 27-19.

The Wolves called timeout with 3:38 left in the period. But when play resumed, Newburn drove for a layup then George made a steal and layup to bump the margin to 31-19.

Gavin Burton shoots over Gavin Reynolds (11). (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

The Hornets hit 10 of their 13 shots from the field during the 21-point stanza.

Robbins interrupted the Bryant outburst with a basket off an inbounds play, but Diggins made a sweet feed to Kearney for a basket.

Free throws from McDougal and a 3 by Robbins trimmed the margin to 7 but Sanders drove for bucket and George followed up with a driving jumper. Robbins scored in the final seconds of the quarter to make it 37-28 going into the fourth.

Watson helped the Wolves whittle the margin to 38-32 but Sanders, who scored Bryant’s first 7 points of the quarter, scored inside and, off a Kearney steal, nailed a 3 from the corner to get it back to double digits with 2:30 to go, setting up the furious rally by the Wolves, which was only interrupted by a basket from Diggins that had the Hornets ahead 45-50 with 53 seconds remaining in regulation.



Lake Hamilton3          9          16        18        7 — 53

BRYANT           4          11        21        9          12 — 58


Watson 3-6 4-6 10, McDougal 3-10 4-11 11, Robinson 3-7 0-0 8, Robbins 4-13 1-2 10, Pennington 4-11 0-0 10, Carmack 2-4 0-0 4, Parish 0-2 0-0 0, Reynolds 0-0 0-0 0. Totals19-53 (36%) 9-12 (75%) 53.


Newburn 2-9 1-3 5, Burton 0-2 0-0 0, Booth 0-2 4-6 4, George 5-9 4-6 14, Diggins 5-7 0-0 10, Kearney 3-8 1-1 7, Sanders 7-12 3-5 18, Hale 0-1 0-0 0, Mendoza 0-2 0-0 0. Totals22-52 (42%) 13-21 (62%) 58.

Three-point field goals:Bryant 1-6 (Sanders 1-1, Newburn 0-3, Booth 0-1, Kearney 0-1), Lake Hamilton 6-15 (Pennington 2-5, Robinson 2-2, Robbins 1-4, McDougal 1-3, Parish 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 15, Lake Hamilton 17. Rebounds:Bryant 19-21 40 (Sanders 8-5 13, Diggins 4-3 7, Kearney 2-3 5, Hale 1-3 4, Booth 1-2 3, Newburn 0-2 2, Burton 1-1 2, Mendoza 1-1 2, George 0-1 1, team 1-0 1), Lake Hamilton 14-17 31 (Robinson 4-4 8, Robbins 3-3 6, Pennington 3-3 6, Watson 2-2 4, Carmack 1-0 1, team 1-5 6). Team fouls:Bryant 12, Lake Hamilton 20. Fouled out:Lake Hamilton, Watson, Robinson.

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