Hornets ease past Mavericks, eye upcoming showdown

File photo by Rick Nation

FORT SMITH — Camren Hunter finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds in limited time and 11 of the 12 players that got into the game for the Bryant Hornets scored in an 81-54 road victory over the Fort Smith Southside Mavericks.

Coupled with Conway’s 56-48 win over Fort Smith Northside, the Hornets’ win produced a three-way tie for second place going into the final three games of the regular season. Bryant, Conway and Northside are each 7-4 in the league.

The Hornets host Cabot, with designs on avenging a disappointing loss on the road earlier this season. They travel to league champion North Little Rock next Tuesday then host Conway to conclude the regular season on Friday, Feb. 28.

Bryant will host this season’s 6A State Tournament.

Southside fell to 5-20 overall and 0-11 in the league, out of contention for State.

Both teams struggled early. It took almost 2:30 for anyone to score and that came on a free throw by Hunter. Gakell Mitchell drove for a basket to give Southside a 2-1 lead but that was the last time the Mavs were ahead.

Will Diggins hit the offensive glass for a basket to put the Hornets ahead to stay. Landyn Newburn’s follow shot made it 5-2.

Mykale Franks scored off a steal and the Bryant margin was just 1. The Mavs had a chance to regain the upper hand, but Catrell Wallace took a charge and, moments later, hit an 8-foot jumper. A.J. Jenkins hit a pair of free throws to make it 9-4 then Franks and Hunter traded buckets. Treylon Payne’s offensive-rebound basket with :18 left in the quarter made it 13-6.

Payne, fighting foul trouble much of the night, would finish with 14 points. Austin Schroeder came off the bench to score 8. Wallace and Aidan Adams had 6 each while Jenkins and Kayleb West scored 5 apiece.

“I just don’t think we played up to our standard, score notwithstanding,” commented Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson. “We played a little bit different, I’m assuming, because of our opponent, which is frustrating if you’re trying to be your best.”

The coach wants his team to be building towards State, with the idea of playing their best ball of the season in the tournament.

He allowed they he saw some good stuff.

“There were some good plays,” he related, “some nice hustle plays, some attack plays. To score 81 was a big thing. There’s some positives. I’m not saying it’s all negative, but I just don’t think it’s up to our standard.”

Hunter scored the first two baskets of the second quarter, the first off a feed from Jenkins, the second off a dish from Wallace.

It was 17-6 before Southside’s Tristan Lane scored. But his bucket was trumped by the first of Schroeder’s two 3’s in the game. Schroeder scored all 8 of his points in the second period.

Jenkins made a steal that led to a layup by Payne off an assist by Hunter.

With Bryant up 22-8, Southside needed a timeout.

Franks pumped in a 3 when play resumed but Payne canned a 15-footer, Schroeder hit another 3 and off a steal by Payne, Schroeder found an offensive rebound and scored to make it 29-11.

Hunter drove for a pair of baskets after Lane scored again and Bryant had its first 20-point margin with 3:32 left in the half.

Bryant led 38-22 at the intermission.

Regarding his players attacking the basket a bit more in the game, Abrahamson said, “I think it was favorable. At least, it looked favorable to the players. They were just trying to take what they were getting. I mean, that’s our plan but they were able to maybe get it further in there, all the way, without having to kick it first or anything like that.”

Payne made a steal early in the third quarter, got the ball to Wallace, who slipped it to Hunter for a basket. Off another Southside miscue, Hunter fed Payne for a triple. Jenkins drove for a basket to make it 45-22 and forcing yet another Mavs timeout.

The teams traded baskets for much of the third quarter. It was 54-36 going into the final two minutes. Wallace added a layup then, on an inbounds play under their own basket, Jenkins fed Hunter for a basket and it was 58-36.

With reserves starting to sift in, the Hornets took a 64-39 lead into the fourth quarter. Jalen Montgomery scored off a drive and West beat the buzzer with a 3 in the final minute of the third.

West added two free throws to his scoring early in the final period. After Hunter and Payne finished their nights, Southside trimmed the margin to 72-49, Adams hit a free throw and O.J. Newburn came through with a three-point play.

Still, the Hornets could never quite get that 30-point lead to make it a mercy-rule game. Their largest lead was 29.

Asked how the game might affect his team’s play on Friday against Cabot, Abrahamson said, 

“I don’t know. I hope it doesn’t. We’ve had good practices and that’s kind of the frustrating part. Usually you play how you practice. We need two good practices Wednesday, Thursday. We need the players’ attention and we need to play up to our standard on Friday and play our best at home.”

HORNETS 81, MAVERICKS 54

Score by quarters

BRYANT           13        25        26        17 — 81

FS Southside   6          16        17        15 — 54

HORNETS (15-9, 7-4) 81

Hunter 12-16 3-5 27, Payne 6-10 0-0 14, Jenkins 1-5 3-4 5, Robinson 0-0 0-0 0, Diggins 1-2 1-2 3, L.Newburn 1-3 0-0 2, Adams 2-7 1-2 6, Wallace 3-6 0-0 6, Schroeder 3-5 0-0 8, Montgomery 1-2 0-0 2, O.Newburn 1-3 1-1 3, West 1-3 2-2 5. Totals 32-62 (52%) 11-16 (69%) 81.

MAVERICKS (5-20, 0-11) 54

Mitchell 1-2 0-0 2, York 1-4 0-0 2, D.Washington 2-7 0-2 5, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Franks 5-11 2-4 14, Merrell 1-1 0-2 2, Lane 2-4 0-0 4, Phonesouphan 1-1 0-0 2, Proctor 0-1 0-0 0, J.Washington 3-3 0-0 7, Vaughn 1-1 0-0 3, LaRoche 3-5 0-0 6, Naegle 2-5 0-1 5, Hewitt 0-0 0-0 0, Kolls 0-1 0-0 0, Rogers 0-1 0-0 0, Lloyd 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 23-49 (47%) 2-10 (20%) 54.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-20 (Payne 2-5, Schroeder 2-4, Adams 1-5, West 1-2, Jenkins 0-2, Hunter 0-1, Montgomery 0-1), FS Southside 6-14 (D.Washington 2-3, York 1-4, Naegle 1-2, J.Washington 1-1, Vaughn 1-1, York 0-1, LaRoche 0-1, Rogers 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 18, FS Southside 26. Rebounds:Bryant 13-24 37 (Hunter 1-9 10, Diggins 3-2 5, Payne 3-1 4, Wallace 1-4 5, Schroeder 2-2 4, West 1-2 3, L.Newburn 1-1 2, Jenkins 0-1 1, Adams 0-1 1, O.Newburn 0-1, team 1-1 2), FS Southside 7-18 25 (York 0-4 4, Naegle 2-1 3, Mitchell 0-2 2, D.Washington 1-1 2, Franks 0-2 2, LaRoche 1-1 2, Hewitt 0-2 2, Merrell 1-0 1, Lane 1-0 1, Phonesouphan 0-1 1, Proctor 0-1 1, J.Washington 0-1 1, Vaughn 0-1 1, team 1-1 2). Team fouls: Bryant 15, FS Southside 14. 



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