Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2011, the Bryant Hornets basketball team[more] won a tournament for the first time since the Saline River was a trickle. The Spa City Shootout was held in Hot Springs’ Summit Arena.
They’d like nothing better than to win another tournament at Summit Arena as sort of a Christmas in March.
They’re one win away from making just such a return for just such an assignment as they play in the Class 7A State Tournament semifinals today at 1:30 at Cabot’s Panther Arena.
Standing in their way is the defending Class 7A State champion Little Rock Hall Warriors who have, in fact, won titles two years in a row and three in the last four. They’re 24-3 on the season, ranked No. 1 in the state and feature a 6-9 junior who has already committed to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Warriors, after a first-round bye at State, dismissed Springdale 65-48 on Thursday to advance to today’s semifinal.
The Hornets are sailing in uncharted waters. Including that tournament win over Christmas, they have been knocking off one “hasn’t-been-done-since” after another. The team is led by a trio of seniors, Brantley Cozart, Jordan Griffin and Quinton Motto, who have each played a major role in the turnaround of the program under second year head coach Mike Abrahamson.
Even with the 6-7 Motto, the Hornets will be undersized at every position against the Warriors. But then the same was the case on Thursday when they led wire-to-wire against Rogers, the No. 2 seed from the 7A-West.
In the other semifinal, a pair of West teams will battle for a trip to the championship game, Fort Smith Southside (23-6) plays Fayetteville (22-6) at 7:30 p.m.
In the girls semfinals, hosting Cabot plays Little Rock Hall at noon; North Little Rock plays top-ranked Fort Smith Northside at 6 p.m.
CLASS 7A STATE TOURNAMENT
Wednesday, Feb. 29
Game 2 — Springdale (17-10) (West 4) 59, Cabot (15-8) (Central 5) 39
Game 4 — Bryant (16-10) (Central 3) 55, Bentonville (15-13) (West 6) 50, OT
Game 6 — Fort Smith Northside (13-15) (West 5) 66, Conway (17-10) (Central 4) 59
Thursday, March 1
Game 8 — Fayetteville (20-6) (West 3) 45, LR Central (11-14) (Central 6) 42
Game 10 — Little Rock Hall (23-3) (Central 1) 65, Springdale (18-10) 48
Game 12 — Bryant (17-10) 53, Rogers (19-8) (West 2) 37
Friday, March 2
Game 14 — Fort Smith Southside (22-6) (West 1) 61, Fort Smith Northside (14-15) 46
Game 16 — Fayetteville (21-6) 47, North Little Rock (18-8) (Central 2) 41
Saturday, March 3
Game 18 — Little Rock Hall (24-3) vs. Bryant (18-10), 1:30 p.m.
Game 20 — Fort Smith Southside (23-6) vs. Fayetteville (22-6), 7:30 p.m.
Class 7A State championship game
Summit Arena, Hot Springs
Game 22 — Game 18 winner vs. game 20 winner, TBA