Less than two minutes into the first quarter of Saturday’s scrimmage against the Maumelle Hornets, Bryant Hornets’ head coach Mike Abrahamson called a timeout. His team trailed 6-2 after Maumelle had knocked down a pair of 3’s.
“I thought we were having that beginning-of-the-game, first-game-of-the-year, game slippage,” the coach said. “But we got it corrected.
“We weren’t rotating well on defense and communicating so therefore we weren’t able to contest shots,” he related. “It was just getting them back on track, just sticking to the plan. Nothing major. They did a good job. It’s just stuff I say every day. They just needed a reminder.”
A layup by Deron Canada off a feed from Rodney Lambert got the Hornets going. They tied it at 8 then Maumelle hit another 3 to make it 11-8.
From that point on, the Hornets dominated. They closed out first quarter on a 15-0 run. Maumelle scored first in the second quarter to make it 23-13 but a three-point play by Lambert, a steal by Khalen Robinson and two free throws from the sophomore guard extended the margin to 15 and it was never that close again.
Over two quarters against Maumelle, the Hornets prevailed 46-23.
After Maumelle played Little Rock McClellan, the Hornets came back to play the Crimson Lions and trailed 2-0 before going on a 9-0 run that put them ahead to stay. It was 21-8 at the end of the first quarter and 40-22 at the end of the half.
Combined, the young Hornets outscored their opponents 86-45.
“I liked our effort,” Abrahamson said. “I thought for the most part, we stuck to what we did. We were aggressive on offense and took whatever was thrown at us. I was able to call something and they were able to get into it and execute it, for the most part.”
And that was true despite the fact that both Maumelle and McClellan pressed the entire game. Bryant sliced through that interference repeatedly for layups or trips to the line. The hometown Hornets scored 86 despite only hitting one 3. They shot 62 percent from the field (26 of 42) with a bunch of shots at the rim.
And they got to the line. Bryant was 33 of 49 at the charity stripe including a 16-for-20 performance by Robinson who shared high-scoring honors with senior Sam Chumley. Both had 24. Canada scored 16 and Lambert 15. Freshman point guard Camren Hunter had 5 points and handled his varsity debut well.
Chumley also had 10 rebounds and Canada seven. Lambert converted 9 of 14 free throws.
Defensively, the Hornets stymied both Maumelle and McClellan, slowing them down and making them work the ball to find shots. When they played each other, it was up and down with few half-court sets.
“We’ve got to get our guys coming off the bench further along,” Abrahamson said, when asked about things the team would need to work on. “That comes with the territory, though. That’s just part of it.”
All of Bryant’s reserves are sophomores who were getting their first varsity action. Three reserves got into the game with only Ethan Hilkert managing to score. But none of them seemed overwhelmed by any means.
“We had a little bit of a let-up there at the end of the McClellan game offensively,” Abrahamson mentioned. “We got a little careless.
“But the effort was there,” he asserted. “I thought they carried themselves well. They kept their heads when both games kind of got heated. That was really good. There was a lot I liked a lot.”
Along with the three teams getting ready for the season, there were several officials at the game with supervisors to help them get ready for the season. New officials were subbing in at just about every stoppage of the clock so it was a little uneven.
The run in the opening quarter was impressive. Canada answered the last Maumelle 3 with a layup off a feed from Hunter. Lambert followed with a steal and a dunk. Another turnover led to a basket by Chumley on an inbounds play to make it 14-11.
Canada made a steal and got the ball to Hunter who fed Chumley for another bucking inside. Chumley made it 6 points in a row with another layup at the end of break off the Maumelle press. Robinson combined with Canada to force a turnover and Robinson canned a baseline jumper to make it 20-11.
Robinson made a steal that led to a three-point play for Chumley that concluded the quarter.
Aganst McClellan, Bryant turned the 2-0 deficit into a 21-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. They extended that run to 27-8 before the Lions scored again.
It started with a drive to the rack by Robinson then a three-point play by Lambert that forced a McClellan timeout.
When play resumed, Robinson scored again and Chumley hit a fader at the block to make it 9-2.
The Lions cut it to 11-6 before Lambert hit a free throw, Robinson drove for a bucket and Hilkert canned his baseline jay.
A pair of free throws for McClellan cut it to 16-8 before Canada scored despite being fouled, Lambert added a free throw and Chumley hit a pair to send it into the second quarter.
Two more freebies by Lambert, a 3 from Chumley and another free throw by Robinson completed the roll.
Bryant will open the 2017-18 season officially on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at Greenbrier.