By Rob Patrick
Photos by Kevin Nagle and Rick Nation
The Bryant Hornets put together a 19-6 start to the second half, including three of their nine[more] 3-pointers in the game to gain the upper hand for good and, with free throws by K.J. Hill and C.J. Rainey down the stretch, they held on for a 65-52 win over the Lake Hamilton Wolves Tuesday night.
Tyler Simmons knocked down five of Bryant’s 3’s in the game on his way to 20 points. Hill flushed three and wound up with 18 points. Brian Reed added 11 points with Skyler McKissock, Zach Cambron and Rainey adding 5 each. Greyson Giles hit a free throw.
The Hornets shot better than 50 percent from the 3-point arc (9 of 17) and the field altogether (20 of 38). In the second half, they hit at a 60-percent clip on the way to their second straight South Conference victory.
“We’re a team that has to do that to play well just with our size and everything being what it is,” commented Hornets coach Mike Abrahamson. “We’re going to have to be a team that shoots it well.
“I don’t think it’s any secret,” he continued. “It’s hard work and a little bit of it is just talent no matter what we do in practice. But I think we need to control the controllables and that is knowing where we’re supposed to be, knowing what we’re looking for, getting our hands ready and our feet ready and then, if we decide to shoot it, we need to think it’s going in. We need to believe it’s going in.
“We’re getting closer to that,” the coach asserted. “There’s a comfort level out there that we haven’t seen all year in terms of our shooters. And everyone out there is trying to be a threat on offense. It helps when you’ve got to guard five people instead of three or four.”
The Hornets did a good job of looking for teammates in scoring position, resulting in a number of assists including five for Hill.
“That’s just trying to play team basketball,” Abrahamson said. “We’re going to be good. We’re going to be bad. We’re going to be small. We’re going to be a lot of stuff but we are going to be a team.”
The coach lauded Reed’s play inside.
“That kid has been a battler for us here lately,” he said. “He was key. I couldn’t take him out. He probably needed to come out at times but I couldn’t take him out. He attacked the basket well, which is something we know he can do and he does at times at practice. He just hasn’t let it out of himself in games so, to see that, I’m happy for him.”
The Hornets are now 13-8 overall and 2-4 in league play with a challenging week ahead. On Friday, they travel to El Dorado, one of the toughest places to win in the conference. The game will wrap up the first half of the league schedule. El Dorado went to overtime Tuesday before being edged by Benton, which improved to 6-0 in conference. Bryant visits Benton on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
The Hornets trailed Lake Hamilton 27-26 after the Wolves’ Malik Blevins scored inside to open the second half. But Hill fed Reed for an answering bucket to start Bryant’s game-changing burst. Hill added two free throws then Reed made a steal and drove for a layup to make it 32-27.
Cambron tried to take a charge on a move by Blevins but the block-charge calls went against the defenders most of the night. Blevins missed both free throws but, after a Bryant miss, Quan Gipson hit a pull-up jumper for the Wolves.
Simmons answered when Reed found him open with a kick-out pass. He buried a 3. And, after Blevins scored again, Hill popped a triple to make it 38-31 and inducing a timeout call for the Wolves.
Blevins, who led his team with 17 points, tried to keep it close with another pair of free throws (after Reed tried to take a charge) with 3:09 left in the quarter but a 7-0 surge by the Hornets pushed the lead to double-digits. Cambron hit a 12-foot jumper, Hill pumped in another trey and Simmons made a steal and hit a driving jumper to make it 46-33.
After another timeout, Broadbent got the Wolves back on track with a 3. The game went to the fourth quarter with Bryant up 47-38 thanks to a last-second slash to the rack by Hill.
Simmons then opened up the fourth quarter with his fifth troika.
Lake Hamilton refused to go away, though. The Wolves trimmed the lead to 6 three times but the Hornets stepped up each time. Initially, it was Reed off an eye-popping no-look pass from Hill.
Blevins cut it again but Hill found Cambron inside. In turn, McKissock tried to take a charge on a drive by Blevins only to be called for a block. Blevins tossed in both free throws then had a chance to trim it further after being fouled on a defensive rebound. But he missed the front end. With 2:21 to go, Rainey was fouled on a drive to the rim. He converted twice at the line and, after Blevins missed at the other end, Rainey added another free throw to extend the margin to 58-49.
Rainey would knock down two more free throws and Hill would hit 3 of 4 after that. McKissock got free for a layup behind the Lake Hamilton press as the Hornets pulled away at the end.
The first half was tight as both teams put on a 3-point shooting display. Lake Hamilton finished with seven 3’s including five by point guard Andrew Broadbent. He finished with 15 points.
The Hornets led 14-12 at the end of the opening period but Broadbent nailed a 3 and Blevins scored inside to give the Wolves a 17-14 lead early in the second. Reed attacked the basket and was fouled. After he converted both of his free throws, the Hornets forced a turnover and, on the inbounds play, Rainey found Simmons for a 3 that gave Bryant the lead again.
Simmons would add a three-point play off the offensive glass to extend the margin to 5 but behind Blevins and Broadbent, the Wolves rallied to regain the edge, 23-22.
Reed tied it with a free throw and, in the final minute, Simmons drained a deep 3.
Lake Hamilton’s Chris Childs beat the buzzer for a basket that left Bryant up 26-25 at the break. Blevins scored the first bucket of the second half giving his team its final lead.
HORNETS 65, WOLVES 52
Score by quarters
Lake Hamilton 12 13 13 14 — 52
BRYANT 14 12 21 18 — 65
WOLVES (6-11, 0-5) 52
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Broadbent 5-8 0-1 0-1 1 2 15
Worley 2-7 0-0 1-0 1 1 5
Gipson 2-7 2-2 1-5 6 4 6
Blevins 6-13 5-10 1-6 7 5 17
Childs 3-7 0-0 3-3 6 1 6
C.Hill 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 3 0
Watkins 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Turner 0-2 0-0 0-1 1 2 0
Scott 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 3
Team 1-1 2
Totals 19-47 7-13 7-16 23 18 52
HORNETS (13-8, 2-4) 65
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
K.Hill 5-9 5-6 0-5 5 1 18
McKissock 2-2 0-0 0-1 1 2 5
Simmons 7-13 1-1 2-2 4 2 20
Reed 4-5 3-4 0-7 7 2 11
Cambron 2-8 1-2 3-5 8 2 5
Davis 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Rayburn 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Rainey 0-1 5-9 2-3 5 1 5
Giles 0-0 1-4 1-0 1 1 1
Team 0-2 2
Totals 20-38 16-26 8-25 33 11 65
Three-point field goals: Lake Hamilton 7-21 (Broadbent 5-7, Worley 1-4, Scott 1-2, Gipson 0-4, Turner 0-2, Blevins 0-1, Watkins 0-1), Bryant 9-17 (Simmons 5-10, K.Hill 3-5, McKissock 1-1, Cambron 0-1). Turnovers: Lake Hamilton 8, Bryant 11. Technical fouls: Lake Hamilton, Worley; Bryant, Simmons.