A 13-2 run in the third quarter helped the Bryant Hornets freshman team turn back a pesky Hot Springs Lakeside Rams freshman team, 51-40, Monday night to open play in the annual Bryant Invitational tournament at Bryant Middle School gym.
The Hornets advance to play Benton, a 49-15 winner over Malvern earlier in the evening. The game will be played at 6:40 p.m., at the high school gym.
Bryant had its hands full with Lakeside through the first half, trailing until a barrage of 3-pointers on consecutive plays. Trailing 19-15, Ryan Riggs pumped in a triple then Austin Schroeder popped one then, with :46 left in the half, Aiden Adams drained another to make it 24-19.
But Lakeside scored inside then, after a Bryant miss, hit a 3 at the buzzer to tie the game and take the momentum back. To start the third quarter, Tyree Glover tipped in a teammate’s miss and the Rams had a 26-24 lead.
But before they could score again, Riggs knocked down another trey, Adams canned a 15-footer, Myles Aldridge drove for a layup and, off a steal, Adams drove for a layup to make it 33-26.
Andrew Cox interrupted with a stickback and Lakeside called a timeout with 1:58 left in the quarter. When play resumed, however, Braden Godwin scored and, off another Rams turnover, Adams hit a driving jumper to make it 37-28.
“It was very, very frustrating at the beginning,” allowed Hornets head coach Tyler Posey. “We really didn’t come out very strong. We were a little bit flat.
“I don’t know what clicked,” he added. “I think they just decided they wanted to play and came out really, really aggressive in the second half, and really confident, and we got some things going finally.”
Aldridge led the team with 13 points and eight rebounds before fouling out. Adams added 10 points and Riggs had 9 on a trio of 3’s. Braylon Walker provided a second-half spark with 6 points.
The lead grew to 17 points in the fourth quarter, 49-32 with 2:29 left.
To start the fourth, Glover hit a pair of free throws but that proved to be the last points for him, whom the Hornets held to 6 points in the game. A base-line drive by Walker pushed the lead back to 9. He then took a charge as Glover tried to score.
After both teams misfired, Aldridge scored inside to give the Hornets their first double-digit advantage. Lakeside got free for a layup to cut it to 9 again.
With 4:01 to go, Gavin Brunson was fouled and went to the line to shoot two. Though he missed them both, Aldridge muscled down the rebound and pumped the ball outside to Riggs who splashed the triple. Walker made a steal and, though he was unable to get his free throws to fall, the Rams were never able to get that close the rest of the way.
A three-point play by Aldridge off a feed from Walker made it 47-32. Free throws by Adams and Hayden Schrader pushed the lead to 17.
Lakeside finished the game with an 8-2 run but, in the end, the Hornets were able to run out the clock.
“We do shoot the ball very well,” Posey acknowledged. “We didn’t get as many shots as I would’ve liked tonight but we were attacking the glass, getting some steals and some layups.”
A switch to a full-court press early in the second quarter helped facilitate that. The Hornets fell behind 7-2 off the bat and trailed 11-6 going into the second quarter. Godwin hit a free throw and that’s when Posey called for the press. A turnover led to a basket by Brunson off a feed from Jalen Montgomery. Another turnover set up Aldridge inside as he tied the game at 11.
But Lakeside would not relinquish the lead until that shower of 3’s late in the half.
“We’ve got some quick guards and bigs that have really good reaction time,” Posey said. “I felt like we started making some plays on the press and I feel like it was a good switch. They really took to it and bought into the game plan there.”
The win improved the Hornets to 2-0 on the season.