For more photos of this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
The Little Rock Catholic Rockets are one of those basketball teams that, every season, is going to try to make you play lots of defense, working the ball and working it, waiting for a defensive breakdown. And, on defense, they also try to make the opponent work and work to get the shots they want.
In that way, they can shorten the game, keep it close and give themselves a chance to pull out a win in the end.
Often, their games turn into real grinds.
On Tuesday, however, the Bryant Hornets just didn’t allow the Rockets to get that kind of game going as they scorched the nets at a 65 percent (13 of 20) clip in the first half. Included in that were 10 3-pointers, of which they drained seven
The Hornets built a 17-4 lead by the end of the first quarter and held a 36-18 advantage at the half on their way to a 67-35 romp for their first 6A-Central Conference win.
For the game, 13 played for Bryant and 10 of them contributed to the scoring, led by Khasen Robinson with 17 off the bench. Camren Hunter finished with 13 points and Trey Payne 11.
The game ended with the mercy rule in effect, something that rarely happens in a 6A-Central Conference game.
“You never know when that’s going to happen but it sure is nice,” said Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson. “We’re just trying to play fast, trying to play aggressive on both ends of the floor and that was the shots that we got. I don’t think they took any bad shots, so I was pleased with that. And tonight was one of those nights when the shots were falling.”
Bryant had shot quite well in their first league game on Friday at Fort Smith Northside and it produced an 8-point lead during the third quarter. They were ahead going into the fourth but went cold down the stretch as they lost 60-50 to the defending State champs.
This time, the Hornets shot so well the Rockets could not keep up.
The game started with an 8-0 run for Bryant. Hunter scored inside and, after Catrell Wallace made a steal, Hunter buried the first 3. Off a Catholic miss, A.J. Jenkins fed Payne for another triple and the Rockets needed a timeout.
In the end, Bryant was 11 of 18 from distance with Robinson knocking down 5 of 6.
After the timeout, the Rockets got on the board as Brian Flanagan posted up for a bucket. Jenkins countered with a free throw and, moments later, Payne buried a triple off an assist from Aidan Adams.
Down 12-2, Flanagan scored again only to have Robinson follow up with his first troika. And when Hunter drove for a basket with 2:02 left in the quarter, the Hornets had a 17-4 lead.
Sam Hannah, who led the Rockets with 8 points off the bench, hit a 3 to start the second stanza. Free throws by Parker Lloyd made it 17-9 but that was as close as they would get.
After Hunter added two free throws, Payne popped another 3.
Nathan Johnson’s three-point play had the lead down to 10 but Adams scored on a baseline jumper. Hannah popped another 3 but Robinson splashed his second triple.
After Jordan Edington hit a jump hook for the Rockets, they started pushing the defense out to try to chase the Hornets off the 3-point line. So, Hunter and Jenkins and Braylen Montgomery began to drive the ball and draw the defense in the lane. Sophomore Will Diggins made himself available on the low block and on three trips in a row, took a dish for a basket inside.
And when Robinson connected on a 3 in the final minute, the Hornets had their 18-point lead at the half.
The onslaught continued into the second half. Bryant started the third quarter with a 15-3 burst, which produced its first 30-point lead.
Hunter had the first couple of baskets around Edington’s stickback. Wallace got free for a layup then Payne fed Robinson for another 3.
Johnson interrupted with a free throw, but Robinson drove the lane on the other end and dished to Diggins for another hoop from close range. Payne added a deuce off a drive and Jenkins made a sparkling basket on an attack. That capped the outburst.
The Hornets led 57-30 going into the fourth quarter. By then reserves were in the game.
Down the stretch, O.J. Newburn and Devin Pitts punctuated the 3-point barrage. Pitts and Kayleb West each had baskets inside as well.
The final six minutes were played with a running clock.
Now 9-6 overall and 1-1 in league play, the Hornets will visit Little Rock Central on Friday.
HORNETS 67, ROCKETS 35
Score by quarters
LR Catholic 4 14 12 5 — 35
BRYANT 17 19 21 10 — 67
ROCKETS (6-8, 0-2) 35
Lloyd 1-5 2-2 5, Heird 0-4 0-0 0, Edington 2-3 0-0 4, Flanagan 2-6 3-6 7, Kleine 1-3 0-0 2, Racher 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 1-4 4-5 6, Hannah 3-6 0-0 8, Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Washington 1-2 1-2 3, Anwar 0-0 0-0 0, Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Pruss 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-35 (31%) 10-15 (67%) 35.
HORNETS (9-6, 1-1) 67
Hunter 5-9 2-2 13, Payne 4-6 0-0 11, Schroeder 0-1 0-0 0, Jenkins 1-4 1-2 3, Wallace 1-1 0-0 2, Diggins 4-4 0-0 8, Adams 1-2 0-0 2, Robinson 6-8 0-0 17, Pitts 2-3 0-0 5, Montgomery 0-0 0-0 0, L.Newburn 0-2 0-0 0, West 1-3 1-2 3, O.Newburn 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 26-44 (59%) 4-6 (67%) 67.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 11-18 (Robinson 5-6, Payne 3-5, Hunter 1-1, Pitts 1-1, O.Newburn 1-1, Schroeder 0-1, Jenkins 0-1, Adams 0-1, West 0-1), LR Catholic 3-12 (Hannah 2-5, Lloyd 1-3, Kleine 0-2, Heird 0-1, Racher 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 6, LR Catholic 9. Rebounds: Bryant 6-20 26 (Wallace 0-5 5, Hunter 2-2 4, Payne 0-3 3, Diggins 0-2 2, Robinson 0-2 2, West 2-0 2, Jenkins 0-1 1, Adams 0-1 1, Montgomery 1-0 1, L.Newburn 1-0 1, O.Newburn 0-1 1, team 0-3 3), LR Catholic 6-10 16 (Edington 2-2 4, Johnson 2-2 4, Heird 1-1 2, Hill 1-1 2, Kleine 0-2 2, Lloyd 0-1 1, team 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 13, LR Catholic 9.