Hornets’ comeback falls short at Fair

Photos by Kevin Nagle

LITTLE ROCK — At one point in the third quarter, the Bryant Hornets trailed the Little Rock J.A. Fair War Eagles by 18 points. They switched to a man-to-man defense, started trapping and picking up War Eagles full-court and came all the way back to within 4 by the 4:07 mark of the fourth quarter.

Rickey Buchanan hits a layup. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Rickey Buchanan hits a layup. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

But they never got closer. Converting 8 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter, Fair held on for a 56-51 win.

The victory drew the War Eagles even with the Hornets in the South Conference standings at 6-3, two games behind league leading Benton, which edged Sheridan on Tuesday. Pine Bluff also has three losses and the Zebras will host the Hornets on Thursday in a make-up game. The Hornets, after winning six straight, have lost back-to-back league games. They’ll be trying to get back on track at Pine Bluff. Sheridan visits Bryant on Friday.

The Hornets struggled offensively early on Tuesday and head coach Mike Abrahamson said that fact wound up affecting his team’s defense. They were 5 of 25 from the fineld in the first half.

On a baseline drive and a 3-pointer by Greyson Giles, however, Bryant led 5-4. A stickback by Romen Martin added to that.

But Fair then gradually put together a 16-0 run, highlighted by 3-pointers from Nick Jones and Charles McFarland. Bryant’s Kevin Hunt drove for a basket with 3:27 left in the half to break the string. Giles added a free throw and C.J. Rainey scored in the final minute to cut the margin to 21-12.

Fair didn’t commit its first turnover until the early stages of the third quarter. The War Eagles would wind up with 12, mostly during the Hornets furious rally. But before that started, Fair opened the second half with an 11-2 run, only interrupted by two free throws by Martin.

Greyson Giles (1) launches a 3 from the corner over Little Rock Fair's Jarrett Cole. (photo by Kevin Nagle)

Greyson Giles (1) launches a 3 from the corner over Little Rock Fair’s Jarrett Cole. (photo by Kevin Nagle)

Trailing 32-14, the Hornets began their comeback with two free throws by Rainey, who would lead his team in scoring with 18 points. Hunt made a steal and a layup and, after another turnover, Rainey grabbed an offensive rebound and scored.

Jerrick Cole interrupted with a 12-foot jumper but Rainey countered with a 3 to cut it to 11.

It was 36-25 going into the fourth quarter and when Fair scored the first 4 points of the new period, the Hornets were looking up at a 15-point hole. It was 42-27 when the surge resumed. Martin hit two free throws after a strong move to the hole. Hunt made another theft leading to a Rainey bucket. Fair missed twice and Giles added a free throw that had the Hornets within 10 with 5:28 left.

The Hornets forced another turnover and Rainey added a free throw. The next turnover led to a layup for Rickey Buchanan off a dish from Rainey. A three-point play by Cedarrian Crosby after a War Eagles miss had the lead down to 42-38 with 4:07 to go.

Fair took a timeout to prevent a turnover and, when play resumed, Collyn Jones scored inside. Rainey answered with a 15-footer but Nick Jones hit a pair of free throws. Martin grabbed an offensive rebound to make it 46-42 with 2:39 to go.

But after Collyn Jones scored again, the Hornets didn’t keep pace. Nick Jones was fouled after a Bryant miss but he too came up empty only to have Deshaun Gilkey-Gray find the rebound and score to push the margin to 50-42.

Giles trimmed the margin with a free throw and a basket off a feed from Hunt. Nick Jones hit two free throws in response and, when both Giles and Rainey were unable to get 3-point shots to fall, Antonio Pointer converted twice at the line.

Kevin Hunt drives past Fair's Tony Campbell (23). (photo by Kevin Nagle)

Kevin Hunt drives past Fair’s Tony Campbell (23). (photo by Kevin Nagle)

Down 9, the Hornets continued to have a chance when Martin drained a 3 but in the final 30 seconds, Cole and Pointer added free throws to make Martin’s buzzer-beating 3 too little too late.

Martin finished with 14 points, Giles 10. Cole and Collyn Jones had 12 apiece for the War Eagles. Gilkey-Gray added 10 with both Nick Jones and Pointer finishing with 9 apiece.

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