Photos by Kevin Nagle
Though they didn’t quite get over the hump with their first comeback, the Bryant Hornets freshman team fell back and revved up a second push that overtook the Cabot White Panthers of North Junior High. A 12-2 run to end the game gave them an exciting 48-40 victory on Monday night at Bryant Middle School gym.
Nine of the 10 players that got into the game contributed to the scoring for the Hornets, now 2-3 this season. Kajuan Robinson led the way with 12 points. Daelin Drake and Randy Thomas had 7 each with Josh Robinson and Blaise Smith adding 6 apiece. Rodney Lambert scored 4 to go with nine rebounds while Henry Terry, Tyler O’Neal and Alex Blair had 2 points each.
“I’m not sure what happened at the beginning of the game, it just seemed like we really came out flat without any energy,” said Hornets coach Tyler Posey, whose team never led in the first half. “I had to try to keep firing them up throughout the game and I really didn’t see much until I guess midway through the third quarter.
“We turned the press on a little bit and I guess it got them going,” he said. “A lot more energy. I felt like we had it in us all game. We were just waiting to release it. We finally got going in the fourth.”
The Hornets out-scored the Panthers 22-7 in the final quarter.
A big key was Bryant’s work on the boards. Smith and Robinson each had five caroms. Robinson and Michael Chatman gathered four apiece.
“We finally got a couple of guys back into basketball shape from football,” Posey related. “I think they did a much better job of blocking out. I know that’s something we emphasized last week after getting beat on the glass one game when I felt like we shouldn’t have. So I emphasized that and I think the guys did a good job of responding.”
Twenty-one of the Hornets’ 36 boards came on the offensive end.
The game was tied three times in the first quarter before Cabot’s Hayden Vines drove for a layup to give his team a 7-5 lead going into the final minute.
A pair of free throws by Keith Ray increased the margin to start the second quarter. Thomas, seeing his first action of the season, produced a three-point play that had the Hornets within a point but the Panthers would not relinquish the lead. They led 19-13 at the half.
Bryant’s initial rally came after Cabot’s Hayden Vines drained a 3 to start the third quarter. Lambert grabbed an offensive board and scored. After Jace Shillcutt answered with a 12-footer, Thomas drained a short jumper.
After a Cabot miss, O’Neal scored to make it 24-19. Lambert was fouled off an inbounds play moments later. Though he was unable to get the free throw to go to complete the three-point play, Henry Terry made steal and O’Neal fed Smith for a bucket. Suddenly the Hornets were within a point, 24-23.
But Vines, who led all scorers with 19 points, knocked down a 3 and the Panthers surged back. Isaiah Thomas added a three-point play off a Bryant turnover to make it 30-23 but Kajuan Robinson scored off a nice feed from Lambert. The Hornets got the ball back but Lambert was called for a charge on his way to the hoop.
It was one of five charges that were whistled on the Hornets and Posey protested on Lambert’s, picking up a technical. Cabot pushed the lead back to 8 before Kajuan Robinson trimmed a free throw off the margin. It was 33-26 going into the final period.
Kajuan Robinson hit the glass and scored to start the fourth quarter. After grabbing the carom off a Cabot miss, Drake went end-to-end for a layup as he was fouled, cutting the lead to 3. He missed the free throw but Lambert yanked down the rebound. He missed but Smith didn’t after he collected the board off Lambert’s miss.
Once again, the Hornets had rallied within a point. But this time, they grabbed their first lead of the game with 4:35 left to play. Josh Robinson’s offensive rebound basket gave them a 34-33 edge.
A layup by Isaiah Thomas put Cabot back in front but a basket off the offensive glass by Randy Thomas gave Bryant the lead back. With 3:14 to go, Vines drilled a 3 and the Panthers led 38-36.
Lambert was fouled following a Bryant miss with 2:54 left. He converted once. Trailing by a point, the Hornets ratcheted up the pressure full court. Thomas made a steal but they were unable to take advantage. Another Cabot turnover, however, led to a free throw by Smith that knotted it at 38.
With 1:58 to go, Mason Martin hit a layup to put the Panthers back on top but that was the last time they scored in the game. Randy Thomas scored inside to tie it back up. Josh Robinson then made a steal and a layup to give Bryant the lead with 1:16 to go.
Ray missed the front end of a one-and-one for Cabot but Vines rebounded only to have Josh Robinson make another steal. That led to a trip to the line for Drake with 1:01 showing. After going 0 for 3 in previous attempts from the stripe, Drake focused in and converted both in the clutch, making it a two-possession game, 44-40.
Off a pair of Cabot misses, Lambert was fouled, converting one of his charity tosses. He then combined with Josh Robinson on yet another theft, leading to yet another layup for Josh Robinson with :20 to go.
A free throw by Smith with :06.3 showing set the final score.
The Hornets will try to carry over the strong finish to their next game on Monday, Nov. 30, at home against Lake Hamilton.