Inspired Panthers come from behind to frustrate Hornets

File photo by Rick Nation

CABOT — If the new Hornet Arena could ever consistently draw crowds as large and loud as the one that attended at Cabot’s Panther Arena on Friday night, the Bryant Hornets might never lose at home.

Fueled by that big, boisterous gathering, the Panthers came from behind with a 26-point fourth quarter to pin a 59-47 loss on the Hornets.

The game came just a week after Cabot had suspended its head coach Chris Meseke and just hours after deciding to terminate him. Assistant Logan Bailey and former coach Mike Tucker led the Panthers last Tuesday in their loss to Little Rock Central before Friday’s win.

The Hornets got off to a great start, hitting all five of their first-quarter 3’s to build a 19-5 lead. But moments after knocking down the fifth of those 3’s, junior Camren Hunter picked up his second foul and had to come out of the game.

Cabot rallied to within 19-11 going into the second quarter and eventually pulled even at 23. It was tied 25-25 before the Hornets’ Jalen Montgomery drove for a basket with :52 left in the half, putting Bryant ahead.

Hunter returned in the third quarter and scored Bryant’s first 6 points. The Hornets maintained the lead, building it back up to 37-31. They led 37-33 going into the fourth quarter.

A layup by Jacob Hudson in the final minute of that period, not only closed the gap back to 4 but started a surge in which the Panthers outscored the Hornets 14-1.

Bryant rallied to get within 6 with 1:39 left to play but the effort was undermined by poor free throw shooting. The Hornets were 4 of 9 in the fourth quarter and 7 for 17 in the game.

“We struggled from the free-throw line,” acknowledged Hornets coach Mike Abrahamson. “We try to work on it. We work hard at it. It’s just something that we’re struggling with. I know if we make a good percentage of those misses, it’s be a different game.”

Cabot, meanwhile, converted 10 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to help fend off the Hornets’ hopes for a comeback. Hudson and Seth Vance converted several of those in the last minute as the Panthers close out the game on a 10-4 run.

The Panthers came prepared for Bryant’s half-court trap, which was deployed in the second half as it often is. The Hornets were able to force nine second-half turnovers, but the cold shooting sabotaged the effort.

After the first quarter, Bryant was 11 of 38 from the field including just 1 of 13 from 3-point range.

Regarding his team’s fast start, Abrahamson said, “We knew they weren’t going to go away. 

“I feel like the environment got to us again,” he added. “I don’t know. We’ll see if this team can mature or not.”

The opening salvo started with two free those by Treylon Payne, who would go on to lead the Hornets with 17 points. Payne followed with a steal that led to an offensive-rebound basket by Hunter, who would add 16 points in the game despite missing all but a few seconds of the second quarter.

Off a pass from A.J. Jenkins, Payne drilled another triple to make it 7-0 forcing a Cabot timeout.

When play resumed, Vance hit a pull-up jumper off the baseline to get the Panthers on the board. But Khasen Robinson followed up with back-to-back 3’s then Payne drained his second of the quarter to make it 16-2.

Cabot’s Jackson Muse broke a Cabot drought with a 3 but Hunter countered to make it 19-5.

Payne started the second quarter with his third triple, which would be his last. At the time, Bryant still led 22-11.

But a tip in by Weston Vaught then back-to-back 3’s by Muse closed the gap. The Panthers eventually tied it before Montgomery gave the Hornets the halftime edge.

Cabot scored the first 6 points of the final period. Free throws by Vance with 6:07 left to play put the Panthers ahead 39-37.

After Hunter hit a free throw with 5:26 to go, Muse and Vance threw in consecutive 3’s putting the Hornets in a hole they just couldn’t dig out of.

Vance led the Panthers with 16 points. Muse had 15 before fouling out. Hudson finished with 13, 11 in the second half.

The Hornets will need the kind of crowd Cabot had at their next game, a home showdown with league-leading North Little Rock on Tuesday.


Score by quarters

BRYANT           19        8          10        10 — 47

Cabot              11        14        8          26 — 59

HORNETS (11-7, 3-2) 47

Hunter 6-14 3-6 16, Payne 5-15 4-7 17, Jenkins 1-8 0-0 2, Robinson 2-5 0-2 6, Wallace 2-4 0-2 4, Pitts 0-0 0-0 0, Diggins 0-0 0-0 0, Adams 0-1 0-0 0, Montgomery 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 17-49 (35%) 7-17 (41%) 47.

PANTHERS (13-5, 3-2) 59

Muse 4-10 3-4 15, Vance 5-11 5-8 16, Bates 1-2 0-0 2, Hudson 6-10 3-4 13, Vaught 4-9 0-0 8, Roberts 1-3 0-0 3, Rosebaum 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-46 (52%) 11-16 (69%) 59.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-18 (Payne 3-7, Robinson 2-4, Hunter 1-4, Jenkins 0-2, Adams 0-1), Cabot 6-18 (Muse 4-6, Vance 1-6, Roberts 1-3, Bates 0-1, Hudson 0-1, Vaught 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 12, Cabot 15. Rebounds: Bryant 12-19 31 (Hunter 3-5 8, Payne 2-4 6, Jenkins 2-2 4, Wallace 2-2 4, Robinson 0-2 2, Diggins 1-0 1, Adams 0-1 1, Montgomery 0-1 1, team 2-2 4), Cabot 6-24 30 (Hudson 3-10 13, Muse 0-6 6, Bates 1-2 3, Vance 0-3 3, Vaught 1-1 2, Roberts 0-1 1, team 1-1 2). Team fouls: Bryant 17, Cabot 19. Fouled out: Cabot, Muse, Vaught. Technical fouls: Cabot, Bates; Bryant, Wallace.

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