Hornets third after Tigers’ bucket in the closing moments gets them in too

By Rob Patrick

LITTLE ROCK — Bye-bye, bye.

In winning six of their last seven games going into their season finale at Little Rock Central, the Bryant Hornets[more] had shown at home and on the road the ability to perform at crunch time.

And there they were against Central, after overcoming a 39-33 deficit, tied with the Tigers and holding for the last shot. It looked like they’d either win it or send the game to overtime, tied 41-41.

But, with :15 left, a tipped pass then a rushed one cost the Hornets possession and, after a timeout, the Tigers worked the ball into Kerry Young who muscled up a shot that gave them the lead with :02.6 showing.

Bryant got a timeout with :02 left but couldn’t get a good look as Central held on for the win and, as it turned out, the last bid to the Class 7A State Tournament in Cabot. The Hornets had thumped an injury-plagued Tigers team, 56-30, earlier in the season.

The Hornets, in position to finish as the No. 2 seed from the 7A-Central and garnering a first-round bye, dropped to No. 3 as North Little Rock defeated Van Buren to gain the No. 2.
Bryant will open State on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at 5:30 p.m., against the Bentonville Tigers, the sixth seed from the West.

Friday’s game was tied at 39 with 4:20 left to play as Jordan Griffin’s layup off a feed from Quinton Motto completed a turnaround in which the Hornets erased a 6-point deficit in mere seconds. With 4:46 to go, Griffin drove inside and was fouled by Central’s E.J. Crawford, who then picked up a technical as well. Griffin went to the line and converted all four shots and the Hornets were also given possession, trailing just 39-37.

Though the Hornets turned the ball over, Motto deflected a pass and picked it out of the air. He then zipped the ball to Griffin for the tying bucket.

And it stayed 39-39 until the final minute of the game as both teams missed opportunities. Finally, Bryant’s Brantley Cozart made a sparkling drive to the hoop including a behind-the-back dribble to help avoid the defense, snapping the deadlock with :56 left.

With :39.7 to go, Young got inside and was fouled. He converted both shots to tie it at 41.

Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson took a timeout and the Hornets began to work the clock. A pass on the wing was tipped but Cozart went high to retain possession, flipping the ball back to sophomore point guard Anthony Black. But when Black tried to make a pass in mid-air, Central picked it off.

“I told them in the timeout, any kind of trouble, we have three timeouts,” Abrahamson mentioned after the game. “The ball was in the air and you can’t call timeout when it’s in the air. And we actually threw it away before we came down with it. There was a little bit of panic there.

“Central deserved to win,” he asserted. “They out-played us. They made big play after big play tonight.

“Unfortunately, with my team, it’s about making shots,” the coach said. “We were making shots early and then we stopped making shots and the intensity continued to drop. We missed a few layups and, at times, we tried to make things more difficult than they needed to be.”

After connecting on 7 of 12 shots in the first quarter, the Hornets were 6 for 27 from the field the rest of the way. Still, they led by 8 early in the second half when Griffin made a steal that set up his 3-pointer. But the 30-22 advantage was whittled away by the Tigers with a 10-0 run the started with a 3 by Young and ended with a 3 by Keith Hayes.

Motto kicked out a pass from inside to Griffin for a 3 with :51 left in the half. That put the Hornets back on top but an offensive-rebound basket at the buzzer by Terrance Jones put the Tigers in the lead going into the fourth quarter.

Free throws by Young and another triple by Hayes produced the 39-33 lead that the Hornets were able to overcome with the help of the technical foul.

Motto scored 10 of his 11 points in the first quarter yet the Hornets found themselves trailing 16-13 going into the final two minutes because Hayes hit a pair of 3’s as did Ray Griffin.

But Black drained a 3 to tie it then a driving jumper by Jordan Griffin had Bryant up 18-16.

Griffin fed Zach Cambron for a bucket to start the scoring in the second quarter. Logan Trudell was fouled going for a layup after Black made a steal. Trudell’s free throws had Bryant up 21-16.

Central cut it to 22-20 before Cozart canned a pair from the line and, after a Central turnover, drained a trey to make it 27-20. Hayes, however, beat the buzzer with a layup to cut the halftime margin to 5.

“I thought our first quarter defense was really bad,” Abrahamson said. “I was very disappointed in that, getting out to their shooters. The transition bucket right before half — we had held them to 4 in the second quarter then he beats four of my five and they get a layup.”


Score by quarters

BRYANT 18 9 6 8 — 41

LR Central 16 6 12 9 — 43

HORNETS (16-10, 8-6) 41

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts


Black  1-8 0-0 0-1 1 0 3

Cozart 3-5 2-2 1-6 7 2 10

Wilson 0-3 0-0 1-2 3 1 0

J.Griffin 4-9 4-4 0-0 0 2 14

Motto 4-11 3-4 2-7 9 3 11

Trudell 0-1 1-2 0-0 0 0 1

Cambron 1-2 0-1 0-2 2 3 2

Giles 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Team 1-0 1

Total 13-39 10-13 5-18 23 12 41

TIGERS (11-4, 6-8) 43

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts


Kei.Wilbert 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

R.Griffin 2-7 0-0 0-1 1 1 6

Hayes 6-11 1-1 1-3 4 0 17

Egbosimba 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 1 0

Young 3-7 5-6 2-1 3 2 12

Ekeh 0-1 0-0 0-2 2 1

K.Nichols 2-5 0-2 2-5 7 1 4

D.James 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Pike 0-0 0-0 0-2 2 0 0

Jones 1-2 0-0  1-3 4 3 2

Crawford 0-2 2-2 0-0 0 2 2

Kel.Wilbert 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

E.Nichols 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 1 0

E.James 0-1 0-0 0-4 4 1 0

Team 2-0 2

Total 14-36 8-11 8-23 31 14 43

Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-19 (J.Griffin 2-6, Cozart 2-4, Black 1-6, Wilson 0-2, Trudell 0-1), LR Central 6-14 (Hayes 3-6, R.Griffin 2-6, Young 1-1). Turnovers: Bryant 11, LR Central 17. Technical foul: LR Central, Crawford. 

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