Photos by Kevin Nagle and Rick Nation
For the first time since the 1980’s (possibly as early as 1982-83), the Bryant Hornets team reached the 20 wins in a season when they turned the tables on the Siloam Springs Panthers, 60-38, on Senior Night at the Hornets’ Nest.
In addition, the outcome gave the Hornets a win over every one of their 7A/6A-Central Conference rivals, the first time a Bryant team has accomplished that since the 2001-02 season.
The Hornets, 20-7, are the No. 2 seed from the conference to next week’s Class 7A State Tournament in Cabot. They’ll open at 2:30 p.m., on Thursday, March 3, against the Rogers Heritage War Eagles. It’s a rematch from early this season when the Hornets won 58-43. It’s also the fourth meeting between the two teams in two years. During the 2014-15 season, Heritage defeated the Hornets early in the year then ousted them from the State tourney in the first round in March.
Heritage had to defeat Springdale Har-Ber Friday night while Fort Smith Northside knocked off Fort Smith Southside, to gain the final bid for State from the 7A-West.
When the Hornets went to Siloam on Jan. 29, they were riding an eight-game winning streak only to have the Panthers, led by a 30-point night by muscular 6-6 center Kyle Snavely, pin a 70-58 loss on them. But, this time, the hustling, scrambling Bryant defense held Snavely to 8 points and 11 rebounds. Caleb Lampkin came off the bench to lead the Panthers with 10 points.
Siloam shot just 30 percent from the field (14 of 47) and suffered 20 turnovers. The Hornets out-rebounded the Panthers 36-32.
“We played very hard,” said Hornets coach Mike Abrahamson. “I was very proud of that. We looked a little nervous at the beginning, a little sloppy but we were playing hard all night, defending all night. We tried to contest every shot and we were really going up after rebounds, which I was glad to see.”
It was a particularly welcome sight after the Hornets were dominated on the boards at Conway on Tuesday. They played with much more energy on Friday night as well.
“Everybody that we put in gave great effort,” Abrahamson asserted.
Romen Martin led all scorers with 17 points including four 3’s. Senior Kevin Hunt added 16 points and nine rebounds. Lowell Washington added 12 points and Braylon Steen 10.
“Offensively, we had spurts when we looked really good and we had spurts where we looked pretty stagnant,” Abrahamson observed. “(Siloam Springs) has a really tough zone to attack. But when they started trapping at the end of the game, we pulled away. That’s not their specialty.”
Hunt and fellow seniors Rickie Allen, Detavious Moore and Jordan Walker started the game along with Washington, a junior.
“It’s always a special night,” Abrahamson acknowledged. “I feel like no matter where they are in the playing rotation, they deserve that start. Happy to see them get out there and get called out as a starter. That’s special to me. I hope that’s special to them. Four really, really good young men.”
Snavely scored the first basket of the game but when Steen tied it with a baseline jumper, the Panthers never held the upper hand again. Moore popped a 3 from the top of the key and Bryant was ahead to stay with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
Snavely scored again but a three-point play by Steen kept the Hornets in front.
Bryant led 9-6 with 3:01 left in the quarter then Calvin Allen fed Martin for a 3, Hunt hit a free throw then a pair to push the lead to 15-6. It was 16-10 at the end of the period.
Hunt fed Steen for the first basket of the second quarter then followed up with a 3 off a kick-out from Allen, giving the Hornets their first double-digit lead 21-10.
Siloam took a timeout but continued to struggle on offense. The Hornets used a zone in which post players Washington, Steen and Kyle Sahr got help from the forward away from the ballside.
Snavely picked up two fouls before the first quarter was over. He came out but with his team down by 11, he was reinserted into the game by his coach.
After Martin hit a pair of free throws to make it 23-10, Lampton hit a 3 and Snavely scored off the offensive glass. A layup by Tyler Newton had the Panthers within 23-17. Abrahamson took a timeout and when play resumed, Hunt found Martin for a 3 that made it 26-17 at the half.
The Panthers, who were just 5 of 18 at the free-throw line, missed four attempts in the final 1:19 of the half.
Hunt scored the first two baskets of the second half, to pump the lead to 13. A 3 by Siloam’s Kyle Comiskey and a reverse layup from Carlson Wakefield trimmed the lead to 8 but that was as close as the Panthers would get the rest of the game.
In the late stages of the quarter, Steen fed Washington for a layup, Hunt made a steal and converted two free throws to set the score at 38-26 going into the final eight minutes.
Lampton scored to start the fourth and the Panthers had a couple of chances to get it back to 8 or 7 but could not cash in before Martin buried his 3 triple. Newton drove for a layup and Martin canned his fourth, making it 44-30 with 4:40 left.
Two free throws from Hunt extended the margin to 16. Lampton scored but Allen converted a pair of free throws then made a steal that led to another layup for Washington off a nice dish from Steen to cap off a two-on-one situation.
Bryant led by 18 with 2:55 to go. Siloam made one last push on back-to-back 3’s from Noah Karp and Newton.
But the Panthers would not score again. Washington scored 8 straight points then Hunt made a steal and layup to set the final score.
Abrahamson had his seniors in with under a minute left in the game then brought them out together in the final 30 seconds.
Siloam Springs, now 16-11 overall, will be the second-seeded team from the Central for the Class 6A State Tournament in Russellville. They’ll open against the Benton Panthers at the same time and the same day as Bryant and Heritage meet.
HORNETS 60, PANTHERS 38
Score by quarters
Siloam Spgs. 10 7 9 12 — 38
BRYANT 16 10 12 22 — 60
PANTHERS (16-11, 7-7, 4-2) 38
Newton 3-5 0-3 7, Norberg 0-3 2-4 2, Comiskey 1-8 0-1 3, Wakefield 2-5 0-0 4, Snavely 3-9 2-4 8, Karp 1-4 1-4 4, Lampton 4-10 0-1 10, Kretzer 0-1 0-1 0, McSpadden 0-0 0-0 0, Efurd 0-2 0-0 0, Jones 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-47 5-18 38.
HORNETS (20-7, 10-4, 4-2) 60
Walker 0-3 0-0 0, Hunt 4-9 7-8 16, Moore 1-2 0-0 3, R.Allen 0-0 0-2 0, Washington 6-8 0-1 12, Steen 4-4 2-3 10, Martin 5-10 3-5 17, C.Allen 0-4 2-2 2, Sahr 0-2 0-0 0, Chumley 0-0 0-0 0, Turner 0-0 0-0 0, Canada 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-43 (47%) 14-21 (67%) 60.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-16 (Martin 4-9, Moore 1-1, Hunt 1-1, Walker 0-3, C.Allen 0-2), Siloam Springs 5-26 (Lampton 2-8, Comiskey 1-7, Newton 1-3, Karp 1-3, Efurd 0-2, Norberg 0-1, Wakefield 0-1, Jones 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 18, Siloam Springs 20. Rebounds: Bryant 8-28 36 (Hunt 0-9 9, Steen 2-4 6, Washington 2-4 6, Walker 1-1 2, C.Allen 1-1 2, Martin 0-2 2, Canada 1-1 2, R.Allen 0-1 1, Sahr 0-1 1, Turner 0-1 1, team 1-3 4), Siloam Springs 14-18 32 (Snavely 5-6 11, Wakefield 3-3 6, Norberg 1-2 3, Karp 2-0 2, Lampton 0-2 2, Newton 0-1 1, Comiskey 1-0 1, Kretzer 0-1 1, Jones 1-0 1, team 1-3 4). Team fouls: Bryant 19, Siloam Springs 19.