Hornets torch the nets, Wolves in road victory
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By Rob Patrick
PEARCY — Cold no more.
After struggling with their shooting particularly early in two losses at the Cyclone Classic in Russellville over the weekend, the Bryant Hornets absolutely sizzled right out of the gate on Tuesday night. Sparked by sophomore C.J. Rainey’s 7 points in the first three minutes of the game, the Hornets hit their first five shots.
Bryant scorched the nets at a 84 percent clip (16 of 19) in the first half on the way to invoking the sportsmanship rule in the fourth quarter, stunning the Wolves, 58-31.
For the game, Bryant shot 68 percent from the floor (25 of 37) against a Lake Hamilton team that came into the game with a 5-2 record.
“That really helps,” acknowledged Bryant head coach mike Abrahamson. “It’s just a different game. When you can make shots, everything seems to be going better. Tonight, everything seemed to be going great. We were making shots. Maybe it can be attributed to our good ball movement or our passing, I don’t know.”
Asked if he’d changed anything in practice, Abrahamson explained, “I’d put an emphasis on getting to the free-throw line this year and, after the Russellville tournament, we tried to change that. I said, ‘Let’s just get a great shot. Let’s not put so much pressure on ourselves to get to the free-throw line.’ I feel like we were getting to the basket and doing what we needed to do and it was not working out in our favor. We ended up with a lot of turnovers and a lot of bad shots. So, it’s not anything that we really did in practice but maybe just some things that we talked about.
“But, hey, the kids made the shots,” he emphasized. “We could have this conversation any day. Today, everything worked out for us.”
The Hornets played well on defense too, forcing 25 turnovers with a scrambling, scrapping attack that limited the always fundamentally sound Wolves to just 28 shots from the field.
All of that is no small matter — though definitely smaller in another way — because two starters, 6-7 Quinton Motto and 6-3 Zach Cambron, were unavailable due to injury.
“Motto is out indefinitely,” Abrahamson said. “We’ll find out more (Wednesday). He came down awkward in practice. We don’t know if it’s a mid-foot sprain or a broken bone there in the middle of his foot. Cambron has had lingering knee problems and he’s out indefinitely. He had an x-ray today. He’ll get an MRI.”
To top that, senior guard Brantley Cozart may have suffered a deep thigh bruise during the game, though he was able to play through it.
That leaves a lot up in the air going into Friday’s annual Saline County Shootout against the rival Benton Panthers at the Hornets Nest. Tuesday’s success, however, provides some solace without doubt.
“We’re smaller and we’re trying to adjust the way we play,” Abrahamson noted. “We felt like we had to create off our defense and make (Lake Hamilton) uncomfortable.”
Again the coach dug deep into his bench early and often. Ten players got floor time in the first half and 15 played before the game was over. Twelve of them contributed to the scoring led by Rainey and junior Leon Neale with 10 points apiece. Sophomore Anthony Black finished with 9 and senior guard Jordan Griffin 7. Cozart had 5 and senior Logan Trudell 4.
Lake Hamilton’s stop scorer was Malik Blevins with 7.
Even on Bryant’s 12 missed shots from the field, the Hornets grabbed seven offensive rebounds as part of their 20-13 advantage on the boards.
The game started out like it would be another shootout between the two teams, similar to last year’s meeting in Bryant when, as Abrahamson point out, Lake Hamilton out-gunned the Hornets 69-63, the second-highest total the Hornets scored all season and gave up all season.
Rainey drove for a layup and, after Blevins hit a 3, nailed an answering triple. Cody Smith hit the offensive glass for a basket for the Wolves and Griffin answered with a pull-up jay in the lane. Landon Meeks gave Lake Hamilton its last lead at 8-7 with a 3 before Rainey splashed another triple to put the Hornets on top to stay.
And when Griffith turned in a three-point play with 4:37 left in the first quarter, Bryant had knocked down its first five shots and held a 13-8 edge.
Even when the Hornets finally missed, Jalen Hewett was there to snag the carom and score. After a three-point pay by Dylan Jessup for the Wolves, Neal drove the baseline for a reach back deuce from underneath the bucket and Black added a free throw to make it 18-11 going into the second period.
Bryant was 7 of 9 from the field in that opening quarter. The Hornets were just warming up. In the second, they were 9 of 10 from the field as part of a 21-point outburst.
It was 21-16 when the Hornets’ surge commenced. Neale made a nice feed to Mitch Scoggins to start it. Black made a steal and layup then Trudell got a layup off a turnover and the Hornets had their first double-digit lead at 27-16.
A Lake Hamilton timeout failed to douse the fire. Neale’s theft resulted in a layup by Cozart who followed up another Wolves turnover by drilling a 3. At that point, the Hornets had doubled it up, 32-16.
Blevins interrupted with a free throw but Black drove and sank a floater over a taller Lake Hamilton player in response. Neale’s steal and layup followed and, after the Wolves’ 16th turnover of the half, the Hornets worked the clock down to :10 when Marcus Wilson flushed a 3 from the corner to put an exclamation point on the half. Bryant led 39-17.
Griffin made it 10 baskets in the last 11 shots when he got the first bucket of the second half. Neale’s driving jumper off yet another steal had the Hornets up 43-17 before Smith ended Lake Hamilton’s field goal drought that had lasted nearly 10 minutes, during a 22-1 run.
After Smith’s bucket, Griffin fed Travis Royal for a basket inside as the Hornets gradually built the lead to 30 to get the mercy rule in effect.
With 1:00 left in the third quarter, Jessup scored to make it 49-24. A stickback by Trudell had the Hornets up 27 going into the final eight minutes.
Neale added a free throw and Meeks hit two before Luke Rayburn drove for a basket for a layup, Trudell made a steal and Black hit a layup to make it 56-26 with 5:48 left in the game.
After that, the only Bryant basket came off a drive to the hoop by Strodney Davis. But the Wolves were only able to cut the lead to 27.
HORNETS 58, WOLVES 31
Score by quarters
BRYANT 18 21 12 7 — 58
Lake Hamilton 11 6 7 7 — 31
HORNETS (3-3) 58
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Rainey 4-6 0-0 2-2 4 2 10
Griffin 3-4 1-1 0-1 1 3 7
Royal 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 2
Wilson 1-2 0-2 0-0 0 1 3
Hewett 1-1 0-0 2-1 3 3 2
Black 4-7 1-2 0-2 2 3 9
Neale 4-4 2-3 0-4 4 1 10
Cozart 2-3 0-0 0-0 0 1 5
Trudell 2-2 0-0 1-0 1 0 4
Scoggins 1-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 2
Davis 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 2
Rayburn 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 2
Reed 0-1 0-1 1-2 3 1 0
Giles 0-0 0-0 1-0 1 0 0
Team 0-0 0
Totals 25-37 4-9 7-13 20 17 58
WOLVES (5-3) 31
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Smith 3-6 0-0 2-0 2 1 6
Porter 0-1 0-1 0-1 1 1 0
Blevins 2-4 1-2 1-1 2 1 7
Meeks 1-6 2-2 0-1 1 1 5
Jessup 2-2 1-1 1-1 2 0 5
Scott 1-4 0-0 0-1 1 2 3
Turner 0-0 0-0 0-2 2 1 0
Broadbent 2-4 0-0 0-0 0 0 5
Watkins 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Hankins 0-0 0-2 0-0 0 1 0
Childs 0-1 0-2 0-0 0 0 0
Team 2-0 2
Totals 11-28 4-10 6-7 13 8 31
Three-point field goals: Bryant 4-10 (Rainey 2-4, Wilson 1-2, Cozart 1-2, Black 0-2), Lake Hamilton 5-13 (Blevins 2-3, Meeks 1-4, Scott 1-2, Broadbent 1-1, Smith 0-2, Porter 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 19, Lake Hamilton 25.