Hornets suffer gut-wrenching setback at North Little Rock

By Rob Patrick

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — By now, the seniors for the Bryant Hornets are fully aware that, in the 7A-Central Conference, you’re not going to get many breaks on the road, particularly late in a game.

Not counting bones and blood vessels and stuff like that, of course.

Opponents will play defense with their hands, their forearms, their chests and their hips along with usually quick feet.

So no one should’ve been surprised when Bryant guard Brandon Parish was worked over in a trap without a foul being called during the final seconds of Tuesday night’s 7A-Central Conference game at North Little Rock, ending the Hornets’ last chance at a tying or winning basket.

Or a few moments earlier that, chasing after a loose ball near midcourt, Bryant’s K-Ron Lairy made a dive to gain possession, beating North Little Rock’s Jamicah Gibson to the ball. Then was called for a foul when Gibson, still a step away when Lairy grabbed the ball, tripped over him and was awarded a trip to the free-throw line when Lairy was inexplicably called for the foul.

And, though it’s no surprise, it was still deeply disappointing to the Hornets and their fans that, after leading much of the tight game, they wound up with a 42-40 loss to the Wildcats.[more]

“The kids played hard,” stated Bryant coach Ronnie Marvel. “That’s as good as they can play and they deserved better than what they got.”

The loss, despite a 21-point, 11-rebound effort by Dontay Renuard, dropped the Hornets to 8-12 on the season and 1-5 in league play. A win would’ve been a big boost to their chances of making State. They remain on the short end of a tie with Cabot for the sixth and final bid from the league to the State Tournament going into a home game against Little Rock Central on Friday, which wraps up the first half of the home-and-home conference schedule.

North Little Rock escaped with the win that makes them 12-8 and 4-2, part of a four-way tie for second place in the league.

The Hornets led 38-37 with 6:43 left in the game but couldn’t take advantage of a pair of opportunities to add to the margin before the Wildcats’ Mike Evans gave his team the lead with a follow jam at the 5:00 mark.

It was a good shooting night for the Hornets with nine 3-pointers, though they still shot just 38 percent from the field (13 of 34) and converted just 5 of 10 from the free-throw line (North Little Rock was 14-of 24 from the stripe). But both Lairy and Parish missed on 3-point tries hoping to counter Evans’ bucket. And, with 3:47 left, Evans was fouled. The towering post man knocked down both free throws to give his team a 41-38 lead.

A Bryant turnover followed, but Chris Campbell was fouled and couldn’t get the front end of the one-and-one to fall, giving the Hornets a reprieve.

And, with 2:25 left, Parish made a hard drive to the rack for a layup that trimmed the lead to 1.

They would get a chance to take the lead when Mike Malvin and Reggie Bryles misfired for the Cats. Sophomore L.J. McLaughlin drove inside only to have Evans block his shot out of bounds. Moments later, McLaughlin got a look from 3-point range but couldn’t buy it.

North Little Rock got the ball into the front court and tried to get the ball inside. But the ball came loose and Lairy and Gibson dashed after it. The official closest to the play hesitated but went ahead and pinned the foul on Lairy.

The Hornets, however, got a break when Gibson missed the front end of the one-and-one. Evans out-reached the Hornets’ Kendall Butzlaff for the rebound. With the Bryant coaches pleading for an over-the-back foul, Butzlaff hit the floor. Evans tripped over him and (with no foul called this time), the ball trickled out of bounds and the Hornets gained possession.

Marvel called a timeout with :46.1 to go and the Hornets subsequently ran clock to try to go for the last shot. With :14.2 left, North Little Rock committed its sixth team foul, one short of the number needed to shoot the one-and-one.

The Bryant coach called another timeout to set up a shot. When play resumed, Parish inbounded the ball just inside the midcourt stripe. Parish faked a throw-in to Lairy in the backcourt then tried to rifle an overhead skip pass on the far wing to Renuard. But the pass was tipped and gathered in by Evans. Renuard fouled out with :12.2 showing.

“We were trying to make them think we were going to come off that zipper screen and we were going to skip it over to Dontay, who had been hot all night,” Marvel explained. “Brandon just didn’t quite get enough on it to throw it over that kid’s head and he just got his fingertips on it.

“That play went wrong on us but you can’t really say a whole lot about what you think beat you tonight,” he added, “because there’s rules against it. But that fourth foul on K-Ron when he went diving after that loose ball, got that to be a foul on him, that was about as bad a call as I’ve seen.”

Still, the Hornets had a chance when Evans missed the second of his two free throws. Trailing by 2 and facing a trap at midcourt, Lairy brought the ball up and whipped a pass to his right to Parish. Two Wildcats descended on him, squeezing him with a tight trap and slapping hands. The Hornets were out of timeouts and, eventually, the North Little Rock duo knocked the ball free and Bryles came out with it going the other way as time ran out.

Lairy finished with 10 points, Parish 5 and Butzlaff 4. To go with Evans’ 10, Campbell and Malvin each had 8 for the Wildcats.

At the start of the game, Bryant fell behind 5-1 before Renuard hit the first of his five 3’s in the game. A North Little Rock turnover was cashed in by Butzlaff, who hit a 10-foot jumper to give Bryant a 6-5 edge.

North Little Rock surged to a 10-6 lead before Lairy hit the first of his three 3’s. It stayed 10-9 for over two minutes. Finally, Renuard scored on a drive to give Bryant an 11-10 lead going into the second period.

Campbell’s offensive-rebound bucket gave North Little Rock a brief lead but Renuard hit another bomb and so did Lairy to force a North Little Rock timeout with Bryant leading 17-12.

The Wildcats cut it to 17-16 but Renuard stemmed the tide with another triple. Campbell hit the offensive boards again but then Parish drilled a trey. With 2:01 left in the half, Renuard drained a jumper just inside the 3-point arc at the top of the key and Bryant had its largest lead at 25-18.

North Little Rock, however, scored the last 6 points of the half with Campbell beating the buzzer with another stickback, trimming Bryant’s lead to 25-24.

The game was tied at 28 midway through the third quarter. Butzlaff snapped the tie with a pair of free throws after he’d hit the offensive glass. Evans hit a free throw but, with 2:22 left, Renuard tipped in a teammate’s miss. Malvin answered for the Wildcats before Lairy, getting the ball in the corner off an inbounds play under the basket, corded another troika and Bryant had a 35-31 lead.

By the end of the period, however, North Little Rock had once again surged, this time evening the score at 35 going into the final period.

Tyree’s Hollister hit a free throw with 7:10 left to play but when Renuard flushed another 3 with 6:43 left, Bryant was up 38-37 to set up the closing sequence of events.


Score by quarters

BRYANT 11 14 10 5 — 40

No. Little Rock 10 14 11 7 — 42

HORNETS (8-12, 1-5) 40 

Player  fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts


Lairy 3-10 1-2 0-2 2 2 10

Parish 2-5 0-0 0-2 2 1 5

Butzlaff 1-1 2-2 0-2 2 4 4

Hampton 0-1 0-0 0-2 2 4 0

Renuard 7-12 2-2 3-8 11 5 21

McLaughlin 0-5 0-4 2-1 3 1 0

Rayburn 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0 0

Team 2-0 2

Total 13-34 5-10 9-18 27 17 40

CHARGING WILDCATS (12-8, 4-2) 42

Player  fg-fta ft-fta reb fls pts


Tyler 1-2 2-3 2-1 3 3 4

Bryles 1-7 4-4 4-3 7 3 6

Campbell 4-6 0-3 4-3 7 0 8

Cooper 0-4 1-4 0-1 1 3 1

Malvin 4-9 0-1 3-1 4 1 8

Evans 3-7 4-5 6-2 8 1 10

Gibson 1-4 2-2 0-0 0 2 4

Hollister 0-4 1-2 0-1 1 1 1

Team 0-1 1

Total 14-43 14-24 19-13 32 14 42

Three-point field goals: Bryant 9-19 (Renuard 5-8, Lairy 3-7, Parish 1-3, McLaughlin 0-1), North Little Rock 0-8 (Hollister 0-3, Bryles 0-2, Cooper 0-2, Gibson 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 16, North Little Rock 7. 

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