Hornets freshmen keep lock on first place with landmark win

By Rob Patrick

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — For the first time[more] that the two teams have been competing in the same conference, a Bryant Hornets freshman team has posted a victory at North Little Rock.

They did it Monday night, holding on for a 37-33 win that kept them in sole possession of first place in the 7A/6A-Central Junior High Conference. Sparked by Hunter Holder and Madre London off the bench, they’d built a lead of as much as 7 points in the fourth quarter only have North Little Rock cut it to 1 with :40 to play.

Down the stretch, Greyson Giles came up with a huge defensive play and Chase Christie converted two clutch free throws with :11.8 left to nail down the victory.

The Hornets, who improved to 12-9 overall and 4-1 in the Central conference are Phillip Barnett, Dakota Besancon, Christie, Brandon Cranford, Cedarrian Crosby, Evan Davis, Trevor Ezell, Giles, T.J. Hall, Austin Hammonds, Holder, Matt Jernigan, Spencer Kilgore, Slade Lewis, London, Dylan Masters, Davis Nossaman, Gray Orman, Garrett Phillips, C.J. Rainey, Brian Reed, Mitchell Scoggins and Caleb Strain.

“That’s a big win for us,” stated Bryant coach Steve Wilson. “We’ve got three more games left and we’re in a position to win the conference if we take care of business.”

The Hornets host Little Rock Catholic on Thursday then travel to Conway Blue on Monday before wrapping up the regular-season at home against Lake Hamilton on Tuesday, Feb. 8. And, if they win out, no one can catch them for the regular-season conference title. The league’s post-season tournament follows at Benton.

“I told the guys that before this year we’d never beaten Benton at Benton and we’d never beaten North Little Rock at North Little Rock so that’s something that this group has accomplished,” Wilson said, referring to the Jan. 13 win at Benton. “This group, if we can play together, can accomplish a lot of things. We’ve just got so much talent, it’s hard to — we had a different bunch. Hunter Holder hadn’t been playing much but he’d been practicing good and came in tonight and hit some real big shots for us. He gave us what we needed to get us back into the game and then Madre stepped up and hit some real big shots and turned the defensive rebounding up. I thought we rebounded pretty good.”

The Hornets’ lead was 34-33 after a basket by North Little Rock’s Juan Day, the last of his game-high 18 points. After a timeout by the Junior Charging Wildcats, London was fouled on the inbounds play. He hit the second of his two-shot trip to the line but, moments later, North Little Rock was in position to tie it with C.Parker going to the line but he missed the front end of the one-and-one. Day, however, rebounded down the left baseline and, as he had done so often and so successfully all night, he drove to the rack. But this time, Giles had rolled back into defensive position and cleanly blocked his shot, gathered the rebound and was fouled with :17.6 to go.

Though he was unable to make either toss, North Little Rock’s Spring came up empty at the line as well with :16.3 to go.

Again, the Wildcats got a chance at a follow shot but missed and Christie, back after turning his ankle earlier in the game, tracked down the defensive carom and was fouled. And it was Day who picked up his fifth and final foul on the play.

Christie calmly sank both free throws to make it a two-possession game and, with :06.8 to go, North Little Rock turned it over as the Hornets held on for the win.

Not only did the Hornets turn the tables on the Wildcats on the scoreboard, they beat them with their own medicine, an effective full-court press. That last turnover was the Wildcats’ 19th of the game. And the Hornets improved their work on the glass in the second half. After being out-rebounded 13-8 in the first half, they held an 18-15 edge on the boards in the second 12 minutes. Christie led the Hornets with five rebounds but five other guys had three each. Day led North Little Rock with 10.

Both teams struggled early. C.J. Rainey had Bryant’s two lone baskets in the first quarter and Day had all 6 of his team’s points. The Wildcats’ managed to stack up a 12-6 lead before Holder, in off the bench, drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to get the Hornets even.

Still, North Little Rock managed to post a 16-13 lead at the half. And the Wildcats pushed the margin to 20-13, their largest of the game, holding Bryant scoreless for half of the third period.

But an offensive rebound basket by London got the Hornets on track at the 2:50 mark. Day missed two free throws but a teammate rebounded the second shot. He misfired, however. At the other end, Christie found a rare gap in the Wildcats’ zone and drove for a bucket as he was fouled.

Though he missed the free throw, the Hornets forced turnovers on three consecutive North Little Rock possessions. And, finally, with :41 left in the quarter, the Hornets took advantage. London knocked down a driving 12-footer to close the game to 1.

The teams traded turnovers and, after Day missed twice, London beat the buzzer with a 15-footer that gave the Hornets a 21-20 lead going into the fourth quarter. And, though the game was tight much of the rest of the way, they never relinquished the lead.

The first minute and a half of the fourth was a scramble for both teams. Finally, London found the range again with a jumper, Giles made a steal and Holder flushed his third triple pushing the advantage to 26-20.

Day ended his team’s drought but London answered to make it 28-22. North Little Rock rallied to within 28-26 but Giles, who had been held scoreless to that point, came through with a three-point play to begin the Wildcats’ frustrations.

Day missed two free throws and Holder knocked down a pair in response with 1:11 to play and Bryant had its largest lead of 33-26. But missed free throws and back-to-back three-point plays by Parker and Day had North Little Rock within 2 with the momentum at the 52-second mark.

Giles hit a free throw with :35.2 on the clock then Day cut it to 34-33, setting up the dramatic finish.


Score by quarters

BRYANT 4 9 8 16 — 37

No. Little Rock 6 10 4 13 — 33


Rainey 2-3 0-0 4, Strain 0-1 0-0 0, Giles 1-6 4-7 6, Crosby 0-2 0-0 0, Reed 0-1 0-0 0, Holder 3-6 2-2 11, Scoggins 0-2 0-1 0, Christie 1-4 0-1 2, Orman 1-1 0-0 2, London 5-7 2-4 12. Totals 13-33 8-15 37


Curry 1-4 1-1 3, Hooks 0-3 0-0 0, Houston 3-4 0-0 7, Day 6-11 6-12 18, C.Parker 1-4 1-4 3, Casey 0-2 0-0 0, Spring 0-1 0-1 0, Holloway 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 12-32 9-18 33.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-10 (Holder 3-6, Giles 0-3, London 0-1), North Little Rock 1-1 (Houston 1-1). Rebounds: Bryant 26 (Christie 5), North Little Rock 28 (Day 10). Turnovers: Bryant 14, North Little Rock 19. Team fouls: Bryant 15, North Little Rock 17. Fouled out: North Little Rock, Day. 

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