Junior Hornets pull away from Lakeside in Bryant Invitational

The Bryant Hornets freshman team was a little stunned when they lost their season opener at Searcy last Thursday. And head coach Tyler Posey was not at all pleased.

“We’re going back to work,” he said afterwards.

And that work paid off when they opened the Bryant Invitational Tournament against the Hot Springs Lakeside Rams freshmen and ran away with a 52-21 victory.

Bryant advanced to the semifinals against Little Rock J.A. Fair, which defeated Conway White, 54-44, on Monday.

In the other semifinal, Malvern, which defeated Magnolia 37-30, will battle Hot Springs, a 43-21 victor over Benton on Monday.

There was more intensity, more fire in the Hornets. Starting out in full-court pressure seemed to lift the energy level.

An early illustration of the difference from Thursday came when, with a 5-2 lead, the Hornets put together some tough, hustling, man-to-man defense and when the ball was knocked out of bounds, the entire Bryant bench came to its feet to cheer their teammates’ effort.

That’s no small thing as the team tries to coalesce after being crosstown rivals the last two years at Bryant and Bethel Middle Schools, respectively. It’s a process.

“We had some really good practices on Friday and Saturday,” Posey stated. “We really took one on the chin last Thursday and I think it’s a lesson learned. A lot of eyes were opened to where we were and where we needed to be.

“I think they responded on how to get there,” he added. “They wanted to do better.”

Though they didn’t press the entire game, the Hornets forced 22 turnovers and allowed the Rams to convert just 8 of 29 shots (28 percent) from the field.

Fourteen of the 15 players that got in the game for Bryant contributed to the scoring led by Ethan Hilkert’s 14 points. Tre’Vun Herron came off the bench to add 6. Keith Merriweather Jr., and O.J. Newburn pitched in with 5 each.

Hilkert had scored inside to tie the game after Lakeside converted the first bucket of the contest. Newburn followed up with a steal that led to Rose’ 3 off a kickout from Hilkert.

The Hornets never trailed after that, though the Rams cut it to 5-4. Newburn fed Hilkert, who wound up with 8 of his points in the first quarter.

It was 11-8 before Daniel Washington converted two free throws after being fouled on a strong move to the hoop. Newburn would beat the buzzer ending the first quarter with a 3 and it was suddenly 16-8.

Marqelle Barnes fed Washington for the first basket of the second period. Though Lakeside answered, the Hornets then went on a 9-0 surge as Posey worked in his second five off the bench. Herron was among them and he sparked the run with a free throw and, off a steal by Cade Drennan, a 3-pointer.

After a Rams timeout, Merriweather drilled a triple and Herron drove for a layup to make it 27-10. Lakeside cut it to 27-15 before Ahmad Adams scored inside with :19 left to set the halftime margin at 14.

The Hornets blew the game up with a 12-0 run to start the second half. Drennan fed Hilkert to get the quarter started. Off a Lakeside turnover, Barnes drove to the hoop and pitched to Hilkert at the elbow for a 15-footer. Layups by Newburn and Hilkert pushed the lead to 37-15 and forced a Lakeside timeout.

To cap off the burst, Barnes made a steal and scored then, after Rose’s theft led to a turnover, Drennan made a steal and a layup that stretched the margin to 41-15.

Lakeside finally put up its first second-half points with 2:06 left in the third quarter. Bryant led 44-20 going into the fourth quarter.

Merriweather, Keshawn Scott, Daniel Walter and Ethan Loomis knocked down a shot apiece and, with 1:29 left to play, the mercy rule went into effect. The lead had ballooned to 52-21.

HORNETS 52, RAMS 21

Score by quarters

Lakeside         8          7          5          1 — 21

BRYANT          16       13       15       8 — 52

RAMS 21

Marshall 2-7 0-0 4, Rhodes 0-1 0-0 0, Bates 0-4 0-0 0, Garner 2-5 0-0 4, Glover 3-8 1-3 8, Clayton 1-3 3-5 5, Burton 0-0 0-0 0, Criss 0-0 0-0 0, Wilson 0-1 0-2 2, Tatum 0-0 0-0 0, Ochoa 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 8-29 4-10 21.

HORNETS 52

Rose 1-2 0-0 3, Newburn 2-5 0-0 5, Barnes 1-2 0-0 2, Drennan 1-3 0-0 2, Hilkert 7-9 0-0 14, D.Washington 1-3 2-2 4, Herron 2-2 1-2 6, Hall 0-1 1-2 1, Jenkins 1-2 0-0 2, Merriweather 2-2 0-2 5, Scott 1-6 0-0 2, Adams 1-2 0-0 2, Loomis 1-1 0-1 2, Walter 1-1 0-0 2, West 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-41 4-9 52.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 4-9 (Newburn 1-3, Rose 1-1, Herron 1-1, Merriweather 1-1, Scott 0-3), Lakeside 1-7 (Glover 1-2, Bates 0-3, Rhodes 0-1, Garner 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 13, Lakeside 22. Rebounds: Bryant 9-17 26 (D.Washington 1-4 5, Rose 1-3 4, Merriweather 1-2 3, Adams 1-2 3, Herron 1-1 2, Jenkins 1-1 2, Loomis 1-1 2, Drennan 0-1 1, Hilkert 0-1 1, Scott 0-1, team 2-0 2), Lakeside 8-13 21 (Garner 3-4 7, Marshall 3-1 4, Bates 0-2 2, Glover 0-1 1, Clayton 1-0 1, Criss 0-1 1, Wilson 1-0 1, team 0-4 4). Team fouls: Bryant 9, Lakeside 9.



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