Hornets can’t stay with high-flying War Eagles

For more photos from this event by Rick Nation, go here

Marquelle Barnes tries to drive around a J.A. Fair defender. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Marquelle Barnes tries to drive around a J.A. Fair defender. (Photo by Rick Nation)

The freshman teams for the Bryant Hornets and J.A. Fair War Eagles were locked in a back-and-forth ruckus, trading splendid play after splendid play in the semifinals of the Bryant Invitational Tournament at the Hornets Nest Tuesday night.

Fair hit the last shot of the first quarter to gain a 12-11 edge then surged early in the second to take a 20-11 lead. Bryant battled back within 20-15 with 2:29 left in the half but, at that point, the War Eagles took flight.

With the size, speed, skill and the ability to attack the moment they gain a rebound or inbound the ball, they put together an 11-0 run to end the half. With an 8-2 surge to begin the second half, Fair built a 39-17 lead on the way to a convincing 51-27 victory.

The War Eagles will take on the Hot Springs Trojans in the Invitational championship game on Thursday at the Bryant Middle School gym. The Hornets will try the Malvern Leopard Cubs in the third place game at 6:05 p.m., at BHS.

The Hornets led initially. O.J. Newburn hit two free throws and, after Fair tied it, Darrick Rose knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 5-2.

Fair rallied to go up 6-5 and, after a Bryant timeout, Kayleb West drilled a 3 to put the Hornets back on top.

Fair tied it then a jump hook from Ethan Hilkert answered. An offensive rebound bucket knotted it at 10 but Daniel Washington’s free throw gave Bryant an 11-10 edge.

But that proved to be the Hornets’ last lead of the contest. A basket with :24 left in the quarter gave the War Eagles the lead. Bryant had a shot at the end of the quarter but Tre’Vun Herron’s 3 refused to fall.

Fair’s second quarter push to build a 9-point lead was countered by the Hornets when Keith Merriweather Jr. was fouled on a 3-point try. He converted two of the three free throws then Cade Drennan made a steal that led to an opportunity at the line for Marquelle Barnes. Though Barnes came up empty on that trip to the line, Drennan made another steal and, this time, Barnes, fouled following his own shot, drained two from the line to make it 20-15.

Despite a timeout along the way, however, the Hornets were unable to score the rest of the half. Fair played a tough, trapping zone backed by 6-5 and 6-3 players on the backside. It was tough for the Hornets to get penetration and, though they took 13 3-point shots in the game, only three fell.

It looked like the third quarter might return to the back-and-forth tussled of the first when Hilkert followed a Fair basket with a layup off a nice high-low feed from Drennan.

Three consecutive baskets for the War Eagles pushed the lead to 22, though. West interrupted with a soft jump off the glass from 12 feet. Two free throws for Fair were countered by Rose’s 15-footer. Another pair of free throws for the Eagles were answered by Hilkert’s free throws with :13.1 left in the quarter.

So Fair led 42-23 going into the fourth.

Rose added a free throw to start the final stanza. After a Fair bucket, Newburn canned a triple to make it 44-27 but that was as close as the Hornets could get.


Score by quarters

J.A. Fair           12       19       11       9 — 51

BRYANT          11       4          8          4 — 27


Danough 3-9 4-7 10, Bracey 0-4 2-2 2, Williams 1-2 0-0 2, Polite 5-8 0-1 10, Gilbert 2-5 0-0 4, Coleman 9-11 3-4 21, Tyson 0-0 0-0 0, Gilmore 0-4 1-2 1, White 0-3 1-1 1, Keys 0-0 0-0 0, Faucet 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-46 11-17 51.


Rose 2-4 1-3 6, Newburn 1-7 2-2 5, Barnes 0-4 2-3 2, Drennan 0-2 0-0 0, Hilkert 2-9 2-4 6, West 2-4 0-0 5, D.Washington 0-0 1-2 1, Merriweather 0-5 2-4 2, Herron 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 7-36 10-18 27.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-13 (Newburn 1-4, West 1-3, Rose 1-1, Merriweather 0-2, Drennan 0-1, Hilkert 0-1, Herron 0-1), Fair 0-4 (Gilmore 0-2, Bracey 0-1, Gilbert 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 17, Fair 10. Rebounds: Bryant 14-18 32 (Hilkert 1-6 7, Drennan 3-3 6, Rose 2-3 5, Barnes 3-2 5, Merriweather 3-1 4, D.Washington 0-1 1, team 2-1 3), Fair 13-22 35 (Danough 4-6 10, Polite 2-4 6, Bracey 1-3 4, White 1-1 2, Keys 0-2 2, Williams 0-1 1, Gilbert 1-0 1, Coleman 1-0 1, Tyson 0-1 1, Gilmore 0-1 1, Faucet 0-1 1, team 3-2 5). Team fouls: Bryant 17, Fair 17.

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