For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here
Bryant Hornets’ senior Deron Canada bombed away at the Little Rock Central Tigers on Friday night, hitting seven 3-pointers in just the first half. Though he didn’t add another in the second half, he still wound up with 26 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Hornets to a 68-59 victory in 7A-Central Conference play.
The Hornets, now 15-8 and 6-4, avenged a gut-punch loss at Central, when the Tigers trailed by 24 points in the first half and rallied to win 69-61.
Once again, Central rallied at the end of both halves including a 28-point fourth quarter that opened with the Hornets leading 54-31 after a free throw by Canada in the first few seconds. The Tigers whittled the lead to 9 by the 1:55 mark and got as close as 7 before the Hornets closed it out this time.
Canada’s drive for a basket with 2:27 left in the game had Bryant up 60-45. It was the last Hornet field goal. They hung on after that by converting 8 of 12 from the free-throw line with Khalen Robinson hitting 6 of 8. Rodney Lambert added 2 of 4 after the Tigers had cut the lead to 7.
Asked if he was concerned that the Tigers might run them down again, Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson said, “I felt like it could head that way. I was doing everything I could to stop it.”
The coach used four of his timeouts during the quarter.
“But the kids got it together and made enough plays, got enough rebounds and made enough free throws,” the coach noted. “It just seemed like there at the end, we were going 1 for 2 again.
“It’s not where we want to be but it’s better,” he asserted.
“We had a little bit of a meltdown the first half too,” said Abrahamson. The Hornets had a 33-15 lead only to have the Tigers scored the last 8 points of the half to make it 33-23.
“I thought we played a great third quarter coming out of that,” the coach related. “Part of that fourth quarter, them closing the gap, is that Central’s a good team. They were playing a desperate style as teams have done against us at the end of games. We did a little bit better job tonight. We need to do better still.
“At the same time, when you’re playing like that, it’s a different game,” he acknowledged. “You can’t play that way all game. But, also, they’re really good. That’s a good win for us.”
Canada hit two 3’s early, part of an 8-0 start for the Hornets. Lambert drove for a basket during that stretch too.
Another trey late in the period by the Bryant senior made it 13-5. Central’s A.J. Williams answered to make it a 6-point game going into the second quarter.
A steal and layup by Sam Chumley increased the Hornets’ lead. After the Tigers’ Jaylen Sasser and Henry Dudley each scored, Canada, from the same left corner he’d torched in the first quarter, nailed a 3. Catrell Wallace made a steal and Chumley knocked down a 3 to give the Hornets their first double-digit lead at 21-11.
Later, during about a two-minute span of the quarter, Canada drained three more triples. Robinson added a pair of free throws and Lambert had one to produce the 18-point lead that Central whittled down at the end of the half.
“Deron knows he has the green light,” Abrahamson said. “Things are set up to get him those shots if that’s what presents itself. They were there, and he took them, and he made them. After he hit a couple, Cam (Hunter) and Khalen were looking for him and it was nice.”
Chumley hit a 3 to start the second half. Williams hit a free throw for Central then Robinson came through with an old-fashioned three-point play off the offensive glass.
The Tigers were still within 39-28 after hoops from Rajhon McIntosh and Donald Richardson but a three-point play by Lambert and two free throws by Camren Hunter pushed it back to 44-28.
Central’s Caleb Dallimore hit a free throw and, later, added a tip-in to make it 44-31 but the Hornets closed down the third quarter with a flourish.
Chumley popped another 3, Canada got a tip-in, Chumley scored off the offensive glass and Robinson beat the buzzer with a 12-foot jumper to make it 53-31.
Both Chumley and Robinson finished with 16 points. Lambert had 8. For Central, McIntosh had 11 points and nine boards. A.J. Williams finished with 10 points.
Canada and Robinson had free throws on either side of a tip in for K.D. Arnett. Bryant took a timeout with 6:11 left to save a possession created by a steal from Lambert. When play resumed, however, the Tigers reeled off a 12-0 run despite two more Bryant timeouts.
Finally, with 2:51 left, Chumley and Canada, the Hornets’ two seniors, came through. Chumley hit the offensive glass to score as he was fouled. He converted the free throw and, moments later, Canada drove for a basket.
Due to a common foul and a technical on the same play, the Tigers got four free throws and the ball. Williams hit three of the charity tosses and, after an exchange of turnovers, Jeremiah Jones busted a long 3 to get the lead below 10.
The free-throw parade started at that point. Dudley and Jones each hit late 3’s to whittle it to 7 but the Tigers could get no closer.
Bryant travels to Fort Smith Southside on Tuesday.
HORNETS 68, TIGERS 59
Score by quarters
LR Central 7 16 8 28 — 59
BRYANT 13 20 20 15 — 68
TIGERS (7-14, 3-7) 59
Arnett 3-10 2-3 8, Williams 3-11 4-6 10, Richardson 4-12 8, McIntosh 5-13 1-3 11, Dallimore 1-2 2-4 4, Dudley 3-9 0-0 8, Sasser 2-2 0-0 4, Jones 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 23-64 (36%) 9-16 (56%) 59.
HORNETS (15-8, 6-4) 68
Hunter 0-9 2-2 2, Robinson 3-13 10-13 16, Chumley 6-8 1-2 16, Lambert 2-4 4-7 8, Canada 9-19 1-2 26, Merriweather 0-1 0-0 0, Wallace 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-54 (37%) 18-26 (69%) 68.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 10-25 (Canada 7-14, Chumley 3-5, Hunter 0-4, Robinson 0-2), LR Central 4-19 (Dudley 2-7, Jones 2-5, Williams 0-3, Richardson 0-2, Arnett 0-1, McIntosh 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 17, LR Central 13. Rebounds: Bryant 15-24 39 (Canada 4-12 16, Chumley 5-3 8, Robinson 2-5 7, Hunter 3-1 4, Lambert 1-1 2, team 0-2 2), LR Central 19-24 43 (Arnett 6-7 13, McIntosh 4-5 9, Richardson 1-5 6, Dallimore 3-2 5, Williams 1-3 4, Dudley 2-1 3, Sasser 1-1 2, team 1-0 1). Team fouls: Bryant 14, LR Central 21. Fouled out: McIntosh. Technical foul: LR Central, book; Bryant, Meriweather.