Hornets take charge, win thriller at Cabot
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
CABOT — Jeremy Nordman took one, so did Brandon Cowart; Zach Lewis took a couple; and Taylor Masters took one but didn’t get credit for it.
No, there was no theft involved even though Cabot Panthers coach Jerry Bridges got a technical for claiming he was robbed.
Those Bryant Hornets were playing defense, moving their feet, establishing position and against the bigger, aggressive Panthers, taking charges in a hotly contested 7A-Central battle in which the Hornets earned a 54-52 win.
Cabot had three starters taller than anyone the Hornets had including 6-8 post Alex Sharp but Bryant, with that position defense including some excellent work inside by centers Kevin Butzlaff and Hunter Sample who alternately took on Sharp. With help from their teammates, particularly forwards Masters, Nordman and Tim Floyd, the duo held Sharp to 6 points.
And with a 10-0 run at the end of the first quarter, the Hornets took the lead and held it answering every Cabot challenge. In the end, Floyd contributed a pair of huge baskets and along with Chad Knight and Cowart, sank clutch free throws to secure the win, Bryant’s second in succession in conference play.
The Hornets improved to 2-3 overall, fifth in the league going into the most rugged part of their conference schedule. They were set to host third-ranked North Little Rock on Tuesday, Jan. 23, then visit fifth-ranked Little Rock Central on Friday, Jan. 26.
“We needed this big time,” asserted Butzlaff, a senior.
“We face big guys every week,” he added, regarding the work against Sharp. “Every conference game we’ve had so far there’s been a 6-6, 6-8 guy to deal with, me and Hunter both. So, I’ve just got to go hard, get in front of the post and spin back if they get the ball. Taylor fouled out but he did an awesome job tonight helping in the post some.”
“We really needed to win this game,” acknowledged Hornets assistant coach Chad Withers. “It was loud in here. (Cabot) plays hard and they do a good job. But we were able to get out of here and we’re happy with it.
“We’ve been telling our kids we’ve been working really hard and we hadn’t got any breaks but we got a couple tonight, I thought,” Withers continued. “If they keep giving us that effort, we’re going to be okay. The whole key with this team is really concentration the whole time, and effort. They’re a confident bunch of kids, so it’s really just concentration. If we concentrate and do what we’re supposed to do, we’re pretty good, I think. But we’ve had those lapses throughout the year that cost us some games. They’re starting to become fewer and farther between and that’s good because it’s going to have to get better and better.”
Knight led the Hornets with 16 points. Floyd came off the bench to add 9. Cowart had 8, Nordman 7 and Sample 6. Adam Sterrenberg led Cabot with 17.
The Hornets led by as much as 11 in the second half but the Panthers had whittled that down to 2, 43-41, with 4:30 left in the game. That’s when Floyd stepped out to the top of the key and hit a clutch 3-pointer. At the other end, Sterrenberg missed a shot but got the rebound. His follow was blocked by Floyd. Cowart retrieved the ball and was fouled. But the junior point guard couldn’t get the front end of the one-and-one to fall and Cabot had another shot at cutting the lead.
The Panthers got the ball to Sharp, who made a move to the hoop but Nordman was there helping out and took a charge. Moments later, Knight hit a free throw to make it 47-41.
Cabot’s Justin Haas cut that margin in half, however, with a 3 and the Panthers called a timeout with 1:53 left.
The Hornets spread the floor when play resumed as the Panthers picked up their defensive intensity. Floyd got free inside and was hammered on a shot, though no foul was called. Unfazed, the sophomore got the ball back and went up again. This time, the foul was called and he coolly sank both free throws.
Sterrenberg hit a baseline jumper t cut it back to 3 with 54 seconds left. After a timeout, Floyd again got free inside, went high and banked in a jump hook over Sharp to make it 51-46 with :40 left.
Cabot’s Jacob Trammell misfired on a 3-point try and the Hornets came down with the rebound. In the front court, the ball was knocked loose, however, and bodies hit the floor. The Hornets gained possession long enough to call a timeout with :19 on the clock.
Knight was fouled when play resumed and sank both free throws, bumping the lead to 53-46. But Austin Johnson hit a 3 for Cabot with :07 left, keeping the outcome in doubt. Cowart converted a free throw with :04.4 showing and that left Sterrenberg’s buzzer beating 3 little more than window-dressing.
Cabot, spurred by a raucous student cheering section, jumped out to a 9-5 lead in the first quarter before Knight scored all of Bryant’s points, including a pair of 3’s during the 10-0 surge that put the Hornets up for good.
Midway through the second quarter, Cabot was back within 3 when Cowart hit a 3 and, after a free throw by Haas, so did Sample. Lewis followed with a layup to make it 24-15. A basket by Sharp and a free throw by Sterrenberg closed out the half, however, and Cabot was back within 26-20.
It was 27-23 early in the third quarter and Cabot had possession with a chance to get closer but Cowart and Taylor combined on a steal that led to a layup for Cowart. After a Cabot miss, Cowart drove for another easy 2 and, after a turnover, Knight nailed another 3 as the lead ballooned to 34-23.
Cabot surged back, however, and the lead was just 38-35 going into the fourth quarter.
Sample blocked a shot by Sharp to start the final period and it led to a layup by Lewis. Sterrenberg missed a 3 and Nordman hit one as Bryant pushed it to 43-35. But a three-point play by Sterrenberg sparked another Cabot comeback that cut the margin to 43-41 before Floyd’s clutch 3.