Photos courtesy of Paul Dotson
From the git-go Monday night, the Bryant Hornets freshman team was aggressively putting pressure on the Cabot South Panthers. The result was a 10-0 lead that eventually grew to 29 points in the third quarter. Though the Panthers rallied late, the lead was never really in jeopardy as the Hornets prevailed 47-35.
Bryant swept the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference battle against Cabot South, which came in a game ahead of the Hornets in the standings. Currently, the Hornets would be a six seed for the league’s post-season tournament, which Bryant will host.
There’s an outside chance that they could gain the fifth seed. They’ll have to defeat Conway White (tied for second) on Thursday and hope Cabot South comes back and defeats Benton (currently fifth but with an outside shot at fourth).
The Hornets hit eighth 3’s in the game including four in the first quarter. Aiden Adams had three in the opening stanza. His first two started the scoring in the game. Gavin Brunson scored off a lob on an inbounds play then Hayden Schrader added two free throws to make it 10-0.
Cabot got on the board with 2:50 left in the quarter, knocking down a 3, but Jalen Montgomery drove for a layup and Austin Ledbetter followed with a trey. A stickback for Brunson pushed the margin to 17-3 before the Panthers could score again.
Adams’ third triple capped the quarter with the Hornets up 20-5.
Bryant’s pressure forced just four turnovers in the first quarter, but the Panthers struggled to get shots. They attempted just 5 compared to Bryant’s 17 in that opening period.
“I was very happy with the aggression,” said Hornets coach Tyler Posey. “We started a little differently than we have in the past with pressing and trapping. I just wanted to create an intensity level, an aggression level right off the bat and we really responded well. The kids did what they were supposed to do. We started to get shots and layups, kind of a little bit of everything and we kind of put them in an uncomfortable situation.”
The Panthers scored the first 6 points of the second quarter before Myles Aldridge posted up, scored and was fouled. His three-point play got the Hornets back in gear. A 3-pointer by Ryan Riggs was followed by another three-point play by Aldridge. Riggs added two free throws and Bryant’s lead was 20 (31-11).
At the half, the Hornets held a 34-13 lead thanks to a baseline jumper by Riggs in the last minute.
Ledbetter got hot in the third quarter and hit a trio of 3-pointers. Schrader hit two free throws and the Bryant lead was 45-16.
That’s when Cabot South began to press and cut into the margin. It was 45-20 going into the final period then, with the Hornets working the clock as much as they were looking to score, they were held to 1 point — a Montgomery free throw — down the stretch. Ledbetter added a free toss late in the game after Cabot South had trimmed the margin to 11.
Ledbetter led Bryant with 13 points. Adams had his 9 with Riggs adding 8, Aldridge 6. Brunson and Schrader each scored 4 with Montgomery adding 3.
Ledbetter paced the team on the boards as well, grabbing six. Aldridge collected five.
“It feels good,” Posey said of the victory over a team that had been a game ahead of his squad in the standings. “(Cabot South) had a really good game last week against Conway White and beat the number two seed there. So, it felt good to be able to execute against them. It wasn’t really pretty in the fourth quarter, but we really got after it hard in those first three and I was really proud of that.”