Photos by Kevin Nagle
The Bryant Hornets freshman team spotted the Hot Springs Lakeside Rams an 8-0 lead before Kajuan Robinson broke the ice with 1:28 left in the first quarter. Lakeside scored again with :54 left but when Blaise Smith countered for Bryant with :30 left, it started a 21-2 run by the Hornets.
The Hornets built as much as a 12-point lead in the first half and, after Lakeside trimmed it to as close as 5 in the second half, blew the game open down the stretch, limiting the Rams to 4 free throws in the fourth quarter on the way to a 52-30 victory.
The Hornets advance in the winners’ bracket of the Bryant Invitational Tournament to play Conway White tonight at 7:30. Lakeside faces Benton at 5.
Twelve different Bryant players contributed to the scoring on Monday, led by Smith with 11 points. Robinson had 8 and Rodney Lambert 7. Alex Blair scored 6 with Henry Terry and Daelin Drake adding 5 each. Jaylon Dickson, Tyler O’Neal, Josh Robinson and Michael Chatman pitched in with 2 each. Xavion Jackson and C.J. Davis added a free throw apiece.
“It felt good to finally get out there and bring a little intensity to the game,” said Hornets coach Tyler Posey, whose team suffered a 46-39 loss in its opener on Thursday, Nov. 12. “I thought we did a better job with that. We fought our way through that first quarter then put our foot on the gas after that.
“We felt good about what we were doing at our practice today and it didn’t work out the first quarter but we finally got into it, got a little pressure and got a little energy in the game,” he continued. “We came out a little flat early and we didn’t take care of business. We picked up the energy and I really thought that pressure was pretty intense. We did a good job of attacking.”
That first-half burst was further fueled by Smith, who beat the first-quarter buzzer with a stickback to make it 10-6. Robinson started the second-quarter scoring off a nice feed from Terry. After a Lakeside miss, Robinson rebounded and was fouled. In the bonus, he missed the front end of the one-and-one but Smith rebounded. Though he missed the follow, O’Neal hustled for the carom and got the ball to Terry who nailed a 3 to give the Hornets their first lead, 11-10.
Lakeside interrupted with their only basket of the run. Chatman hit a layup to put the Hornets ahead for good. A three-point play off a nice drive to the rack from Lambert continued the blitz. Drake converted both ends of a one-and-one then Blair scored as he was fouled. Though he missed the free throw, moments later, Drake made a steal and drove for a basket and was fouled. He completed the three-point play to make it 23-12.
A free throw by the Rams was trumped by a basket inside from Smith off a sparkling assist from Drake. The Hornets led 26-16 at the half.
To start the third quarter, Lakeside cut the margin to 5 and the Rams were within 32-26 with :41 left in the period. But that came on their final field goal of the game. A pair of baskets by Blair in the final :20 — the first off a steal by Lambert — had the Hornets back up by 10, 36-26, going into the fourth.
Two free throws was all Lakeside could muster for the first five minutes of the final period. Terry drove for a layup and O’Neal sliced up the baseline for a bucket. Smith fed Lambert for a basket and Robinson knocked down a pair of free throws.
When Robinson followed his own miss for a bucket with 1:51 left then Lambert made a steal and a layup, the margin had reached 20, 48-28. After a pair of Lakeside free throws, Davis connected from the line after snagging an offensive rebound. Off his second miss, Jackson rebounded and was fouled. His free throw made it 50-30.
At the end, Dickson made a steal and a buzzer-beating layup to set the final score.