Hornets romp past Senators to capture first Coke Classic crown

Photos courtesy of Ashlee Abrahamson

FORT SMITH — The Bryant Hornets put together a 35-5 run that turned a first-quarter deficit into a 43-16 lead early in the third quarter as they cruised to the championship of the Coke Classic holiday tournament at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith’s Stubblefield Center on Saturday night.

All-tournament selections for the Hornets were, from left, Rodney Lambert, MVP Treylon Payne, and Khalen Robinson. (Photo courtesy of Ashlee Abrahamson)

In seven trips to the tourney, it was the first time Bryant won the title. The Hornets improved to 9-3 with the 60-30 romp over the Joe T. Robinson Senators of Pulaski County, which ended with the mercy rule in effect.

“Last year was the first time we’d ever won a first-round game,” noted Hornets coach Mike Abrahamson. “We’d always been matched up with somebody so tough in the first round. Last year, we won a first-round game and lost in the finals to Hall.”

Treylon Payne, who scored 17 points in the title contest, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and was joined on the all-tournament team by Bryant senior Rodney Lambert and junior Khalen Robinson, who hit the game-winner in the 50-48 semifinal win over Fort Smith Northside on Friday. He played little in the final after suffering an ankle sprain in the first half.

“He played through it most of the first half, and didn’t play the second half,” Abrahamson said. “He’s going to be okay. It’s nothing serious but it affected him tonight. His brother Khasen’s got some tendinitis in his knee and he didn’t play the second half. So, we were a little short-handed, but the rest of the guys played great.”

Catrell Wallace and Camren Hunter each scored 12 in Saturday’s game. Lambert had 6 and A.J. Jenkins 5. Wallace led the Hornets with seven rebounds.

“I really think Catrell deserved to be on the (all-tournament) team,” Abrahamson said. “He had a strong weekend for us, was such a strong presence for us. I told him that I thought he deserved it. Just because he didn’t get in doesn’t mean he didn’t have a big impact on what we did. 

“Cam Hunter gave us a lot of great minutes as well,” he added. “A.J. Jenkins and Jonathan Hall as well, a lot of guys.”

Elliott Harris, Jr., led Robinson with 8 points. Xavier McGraw had 5.

“We got off to a bit of a slow start,” said Abrahamson. “I think we were down in the first quarter 11-8 or something. At the end of the first quarter, we were up 13-11 and we really weren’t playing well.
“But, in the second quarter, we outscored them 20-5,” the coach added.

That made it 33-16 at the half.

“We didn’t really do anything differently in terms of scheme,” said Abrahamson of his team’s defense. “We just did what we were doing better. 

“We really weren’t playing good offense to start the game,” he noted. “They came out in a zone and we just weren’t running our zone offense very well. So, when you’re not scoring, everything else kind take a dip, the defense drops a little bit. Once we turned up the defense and accepted that challenge, they rose to the occasion and pulled away from there.”

The offensive surge was fueled by 3-pointers. The Hornets hit four in the first half, just one in the second half. Everyone got into the game for Bryant.

After going 3 for 3 at the free-throw line in the first half, the Hornets wound up 11 of 16 at the line.

“We held them to 33 percent shooting for the game, so it was a good defensive effort,” the coach said. “I do like the way we play man defense. We’ve got some guys who can really guard the ball. And when you guard the ball well, you don’t require as much help, the defense works a lot better.

“And I tell you, having Catrell Wallace just makes a world of difference,” he continued. “He’s protecting our basket, affecting shots, blocking shots, giving us a strong presence down there. He talks on defense. He’s a leader and he’s playing really hard. He’s making a big difference for us.”

The Hornets open 6A-Central Conference play with their first home game of the season next Friday with a rematch against Fort Smith Northside.

HORNETS 60, SENATORS 30

Score by quarters

BRYANT           13        20        13        14 — 60

Pul. Robinsin   11        5          6          8 — 30

HORNETS (9-3) 60

Payne 4-10 7-7 17, Kl.Robinson 1-2 0-0 3, Lambert 2-9 2-4 6, Jenkins 2-3 0-0 5, Wallace 6-10 0-1 12, Ks.Robinson 0-1 0-0 0, Hunter 5-7 2-4 12, West 1-1 0-0 2, Newburn 0-1 0-0 0, Adams 1-3 0-0 3, Montgomery 0-0 0-0 0, Hall 0-0 0-0 0, Schroeder 0-0 0-0 0. Totals22-47 (47%) 11-16 (69%) 60.

SENATORS (7-5) 30

McGraw 2-9 0-4 5, Willis 1-2 0-0 2, Cross 0-4 0-0 0, Kelly 1-4 1-2 3, Harris 3-7 0-0 8, Kiremerwa 1-1 0-0 2, Tolerson 3-3 0-2 6, Johnson 1-3 0-0 2, James 0-0 0-0 0, Gastman 0-1 0-0 0, Winkler 0-2 0-0 0, Young 1-2 0-0 2, Moody 0-1 0-0 0, Stewart 0-0 0-0 0. Totals13-39 (33%) 1-8 (13%) 30.

Three-point field goals:Bryant 5-17 (Payne 2-8, Adams 1-3, Kl.Robinson 1-2, Jenkins 1-1, Lambert 0-2, Newburn 0-1), Pulaski Robinson 3-13 (Harris 2-2, McGraw 1-6, Cross 0-2, Winkler 0-2, Kelly 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 10, Pulaski Robinson 19. Rebounds:Bryant 10-20 30 (Wallace 5-2 7, Jenkins 1-4 5, Hunter 1-4 5, Newburn 1-1 2, Ks.Robinson 1-1 2, Kl.Robinson 1-0 1, West 0-1 1, Adams 0-1 1, Montgomery 0-1 1, Hall 0-1 1, team 0-4 4), Pulaski Robinson 9-17 26 (Harris 1-3 4, Willis 1-2 3, Cross 1-2 3, Kelly 1-2 3, Young 1-2 3, McGraw 1-1 2, James 0-2 2, Gastman 0-2 2, team 3-1 4). Team fouls:Bryant 10, Pulaski Robinson 16.

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