LITTLE ROCK — It’s an old adage that got old by being true. And it applies in just about every sport.
“Take what the defense gives you.”
The Little Rock McClellan Crimson Lions deployed in a zone defense against the Bryant Hornets on Thursday night. So, the Hornets attempted 30 3-point shots, making 12 on the way to a 71-41 win in the first round of the Jammin’ For Jackets tournament at Hall High School.
In the second round, the Hornets, now 5-1, will play Little Rock Parkview on Friday at 8:30 p.m. As best can be determined, no Bryant team has ever beaten a Patriots team.
Another old basketball maxim that coaches have turned into a cliché is that you rest on offense. But the Lions just couldn’t do that. Bryant’s defense had them struggling to run an offense, particularly in the second half. (Jammin’ games are divided into two 16-minute halves instead of four eight-minute quarters.)
McClellan suffered 27 turnovers and shot 35 percent from the field.
“You look up and they’ve only got 41,” commented Hornets coach Mike Abrahamson. “It looks like a really good effort and it looks like they did get gassed towards the end. They were really settling for shots.
“And I don’t think it was up to our standard,” he asserted. “Really. I thought it was a little bit soft.
“Now, there were possessions it looked really good but, on the whole, I thought it was a little soft,” the coach reiterated. “I thought it was not a defense that was giving multiple efforts. May get one, may get two but it wasn’t giving the multiple efforts that it requires to be a dominant defensive team.
“We did press a little in the second half and got them to turn it over,” he mentioned.
The Hornets finished with four players in double figures, scoring. Treylon Payne finished with 17. Khasen Robinson added 16 off the bench while Camren Hunter and Aiden Adams each pumped in 12.
“I liked our offense,” Abrahamson said. “I thought we were getting good shots, taking a lot of 3’s but that’s what they were giving us, and we have shooters. I was fine with that.”
The game also marked the debut of a quartet of Bryant players fresh off the football field with the State champions, Catrell Wallace, Devin Pitts, Will Diggins and Austin Schroeder. Wallace, Pitts and Diggins brought much needed size to the Hornets’ layup. Their impact showed early in the game. Wallace, a 6-6 senior who started last year, collected five rebounds in the first half, including three on the offensive end. He also blocked a shot. Diggins had a basket and Pitts scored 3 points and had an early offensive rebound. Schroeder hit a basket as well in the first half.
McClellan was led by 6-5 forward Traevon Darrough who had 20 points and 16 rebounds. Guard Eric Wood finished with 11 points but only three other players scratched.
The game was tied at 8, 16 and 18 in the first half. With 7:21 left, Hunter knocked down a 3 to snap the last of those deadlocks. The Lions could never draw even after that.
Schroeder took a charge, and, after a Lions timeout, Adams drilled a 3 to make it 24-18.
Kendrick Ester countered with a trey for McClellan and, moments later, converted a pair of free throws to trim the margin to 1. The Lions had a chance to take the lead but Wallace blocked a shot by Ester and, at the other end, Robinson nailed a 3 to start a 10-2 push to end the half.
Hunter banked in an eight-foot jay then Pitts hit a free throw to make it 30-23. Darrough scored but Pitts added a basket inside and, to beat the buzzer, Hunter fed Payne for a layup to make it 34-25.
The second half started with back-to-back triples by Adams and the lead ballooned to 15 points. McClellan was never able to get the margin under 10 after that.
The Lions whittled it to 11 with 12:35 left in the game but Hunter hit a free throw. Moments later, Adams whipped a pass to Robinson for a 3 and the margin was back to 15, 46-31.
The Lions took a timeout and, when play resumed, Darrough scored. But Hunter fed Gavin Brunson for a layup and Payne made a steal and layup to push the margin to 17.
It was 52-38 going into the final seven minutes of the game. That’s when two free throws by Hunter after Robinson had grabbed the carom off a teammate’s miss, started a game-breaking 17-3 run to end the game.
Hunter made a steal and Payne went to the line where he hit one shot. Landyn Newburn made a steal and fed Payne for a layup, which had it at 59-38.
Wood scored to interrupt, but Newburn canned a 12-footer, Brunson hit a layup and the margin expanded further. Martini Robinson hit a shot for the Lions but Khasen Robinson countered with a 3. O.J. Newburn hit a 3 and Khasen Robinson’s layup in the final 30 seconds produced the Hornets’ largest lead of the game at 71-40.
HORNETS 71, CRIMSON LIONS 41
Score by halves
BRYANT 34 37 — 71
McClellan 25 16 — 41
HORNETS (5-1) 71
Hunter 4-7 3-4 12, Payne 7-15 1-2 17, Adams 4-10 0-0 12, Brunson 1-2 0-2 2, Wallace 0-1 0-0 0, K.Robinson 6-10 0-0 16, Diggins 1-1 0-0 2, Pitts 1-5 1-3 3, L.Newburn 1-2 0-0 2, Schroeder 1-4 0-0 2, O.Newburn 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 27-58 (47%) 5-11 (45%) 71.
CRIMSON LIONS (1-4) 41
Wood 4-11 1-3 11, Buckley 0-1 0-0 0, M.Robinson 1-2 0-0 2, Darrough 7-13 6-9 20, Randall 0-1 0-0 0, Lee 0-2 0-0 0, Ester 1-5 2-2, Eason 0-1 0-0 0, Phillips 0-1 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Plummer 0-0 3-4 3, Brown 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-37 (35%) 12-18 (67%) 41.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 12-30 (Adams 4-9, K.Robinson 4-6, Payne 2-8, Hunter 1-4, O.Newburn 1-1, Pitts 0-1, L.Newburn 0-1), LR McClellan 3-11 (Wood 2-8, Ester 1-1, Buckley 0-1, Phillips 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 18, McClellan 27. Rebounds: Bryant 13-19 32 (Hunter 2-5 7, Payne 2-3 5, Wallace 3-2 5, K.Robinson 1-2 3, Diggins 1-2 3, O.Newburn 0-3 3, Adams 1-0 1, Brunson 1-0 1, Pitts 1-0 1, Schroeder 0-1 1, team 1-1), McClellan 8-22 (Darrough 5-11 16, Eason 0-5 5, Buckley 1-1 2, Wood 0-1 1, M.Robinson 1-0 1, Lee 1-0 1, Plummer 0-1 1, team 0-3 3). Team fouls: Bryant 16, McClellan 14.