Hornets roll to much-needed victory
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By Rob Patrick
HOT SPRINGS — Whether it was against Class 2A Mountain Pine or defending Class 7A State champ Fayetteville, the Bryant Hornets needed something good to happen to them when they took the floor on Wednesday, Dec. 30.
“We needed a win bad,” acknowledged Hornets coach Ron Marvel. “After losing three in a row that we could’ve won, the kids were pretty much down on themselves.”
Mountain Pine happened to be the opponent in the seventh-place game at the Summit Bank Spa City Shootout at Summit Arena but it was more about the Hornets than the opponent and they came through with a stress-easing 69-37 romp.
The win improved the Hornets to 7-6 this season going into their final non-conference contest at Sheridan on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
It was one of the best shooting games of the season for the Hornets who could use the confidence boost. Senior point guard K-Ron Lairy knocked down five 3-pointers on the way to a game-high 17 points. The Hornets combined to go 11 of 19 from beyond the arc. Overall, they were 25 of 43 from the field, a 58 percent clip.
And it came against a zone defense.
“We have had trouble with zone defenses but today we stepped up and hit the shots that we work on all the time in practice,” said Marvel. “I know that the kids have been disappointed in themselves and I know they’ve been playing hard. I guess something just clicked and the light came on and they decided to hit those shots.”
Brandon Parish added 13 points and Connor Rayburn came off the bench to add 11. Each contributed a pair of treys. Dontay Renuard had 9 points, L.J. McLaughlin 8 as 10 of the 11 Hornets that played contributed to the scoring.
Mike Covey and DeAndre Jenkins led Mountain Pine with 11 each.
Marvel and assistant coach Jim Pennington, who handles the defense, had the Hornets start the game in a full-court press and later a half-court trap that helped create 18 turnovers.
“We were trying to get the kids excited,” Marvel explained when asked if that was to take advantage of a Mountain Pine weakness. “We thought if we let them press and got them jumping around and waving their arms and everything then they could get excited. We’re not a pressing team most of the time but we thought if we came out and did that early, the kids might get a few steals and get excited and play hard. I’m not sure that worked because in the first half, we didn’t play very good but then we did settle in and play.
“We were real lethargic in the first half and not very aggressive,” he mentioned. “The second half, we came out and picked up the tempo and did what we should’ve been doing in the first half. We kind of coasted in at the end and let everybody play.
“I told you yesterday that we couldn’t blow anybody out but I guess I lied about that because we did pick up the tempo and finally won a game where our kids feel good about themselves,” the coach concluded.
The Red Devils led much of the first quarter. They were up 14-12 going into the final minute but Parish drained a 3 then combined with K.J. Hampton to force a turnover. McLaughlin flushed a triple with :03 showing and the Hornets held an 18-14 edge.
That proved to be the start of an 18-2 run that put the Hornets in charge of the game.
Hampton started the second quarter with a steal that led to a jumper by Renuard. Parish added a pair of free throws to make it 22-14 before Covey nailed a jumper from the corner to interrupt the blitz. Lairy buried a trey to keep the Hornets going. Renuard made a steal which led to another triple by Parish off a nice kick-out feed by Kendall Butzlaff.
That gave the Hornets their first double-digit lead. A steal and layup by Lairy bumped the margin to 14.
Jenkins drove for a layup for the Red Devils before Rayburn corded a troika with 2:31 left in the half to make it a 15-point lead.
A 3-point play by Jenkins and a buzzer beater by Covey had Mountain Pine within 34-24 at the half.
Bryant picked it up again to start the third quarter, putting together a 15-4 charge as the lead grew to 21. Rayburn’s layup off a feed from Lairy got the run started. He then made a steal and passed ahead to Parish for a layup. A 3-pointer by Rayburn made it 41-24.
Covey scored inside but Lairy trumped that with another trey. After Brannon Wiles hit for the Devils, Butzlaff fed Renuard for an easy 2 and Lairy completed the surge with his fourth triple at the 2:59 mark of the third quarter.
A late 3 by Levi Ellison made it 49-31 going into the final eight minutes but old-fashioned three-point plays by Renuard and Parish on either side of Lairy’s fifth bomb from beyond the arc had the Hornets up 59-35 with 4:23 left.
The Bryant reserves took over from there and finished the game with a 10-2 run. It was started (and highlighted) by a nice pick and roll from Brantley Cozart and Quinton Motto, resulting a bucket by the latter.
Rayburn later fed Cozart for a short jumper then Cozart returned the favor for a reverse layup. Motto added two free throws then Kyle Nossaman set the final score with a short jumper off a feed from Cozart who had made a steal moments before.
HORNETS 69, RED DEVILS 37
Score by quarters
BRYANT 18 16 15 20 — 69
Mountain Pine 14 10 7 6 — 37
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Lairy 6-8 0-0 0-1 1 2 17
Parish 4-5 3-3 1-1 2 1 13
Renuard 4-7 0-2 0-2 2 2 9
McLaughlin 3-7 1-1 3-2 5 1 8
Butzlaff 1-4 0-0 2-1 3 1 2
Hampton 0-1 1-2 1-0 1 0 1
Motto 1-3 2-2 0-1 1 2 4
Rayburn 4-4 1-2 1-2 3 0 11
Cozart 1-2 0-1 0-2 2 1 2
Garner 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Nossaman 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2
Team 1-0 1
Totals 25-43 8-13 9-13 22 10 69
RED DEVILS 37
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
L.Ellison 2-3 0-0 0-2 2 0 5
Jenkins 4-10 3-5 0-4 4 2 11
Covey 5-12 0-2 2-2 4 1 11
Wiles 4-6 0-0 2-1 3 1 8
McElroy 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
C.Ellison 0-0 0-0 1-0 1 5 0
Wooten 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 2
Preuett 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Harbin 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Hancock 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Olivera 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 1-4 5
Totals 16-34 3-7 6-13 19 11 37
Three-point field goals: Bryant 11-19 (Lairy 5-7, Parish 2-3, Rayburn 2-2, Renuard 1-4, McLaughlin 1-2, Cozart 0-1), Mountain Pine 2-7 (L.Ellison 1-1, Covey 1-1, Jenkins 0-4, Preuett 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 8, Mountain Pine 18.