Photos by Kevin Nagle
The Bryant Hornets freshman team’s late-season surge had them in a position to play for a share of second place in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference. On last obstacle remained, beating the team that was a game ahead of them in the standings, the Conway White Wampus Cats, in the final regular-season for both teams on Thursday night at Bryant Middle School gym.
It was an uphill battle all night long for the Hornets but, going into the fourth quarter, they were just down 3, 28-25. Unfortunately for Bryant, Conway White went on a 9-0 run to start the final stanza on the way to a 46-34 victory.
The result left the Hornets as a 5 seed for the league’s post-season tournament. They’ll open against Lake Hamilton, a 4 seed, on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at Russellville to start the tourney.
Randy Thomas led the Hornets with 9 points. Josh Robinson had 6. Blaise Smith and Kajuan Robinson scored 5 each while Alex Blair and Rodney Lambert finished with 4 apiece. Daelin Drake pitched in with a free throw.
Conway White hit six 3-pointers in the game including three in the opening quarter to help forge an 11-3 lead. Kajuan Robinson scored off a feed from Blair to end a four-minute drought for the Hornets but Conway led 13-5 at the first break.
Blair’s offensive-rebound basket had the Hornets back with 6 early in the second quarter but another 3 helped the Cats stay ahead. A three-point play by Robinson cut it to 18-10 then Smith scored off a drive to trim it back to 6 with 2:14 left.
The Hornets had a chance to get closer but on a night they converted just 5 of 14 free throws, they converted just one of a potential six free throws in the final 1:43 of the half. Conway White led 21-13 at the half.
Smith followed his own miss to open the third-quarter scoring but Conway White had the next two baskets to push the margin to 10.
The Hornets rallied. Thomas hit a driving jumper and Kajuan Robinson added a free throw. A Conway turnover led to a layup for Thomas, cutting the margin to 25-20.
After a Conway free throw, Kajuan Robinson scored again and Drake added his free throw, cutting it to 26-23.
When Drake missed his second shot, Blair rebounded but couldn’t get the follow shot to fall. Conway White scored but then Blair beat the buzzer with a basket off a nice feed from Lambert and the Hornets were within 28-25 going into the final period.
That’s when the Wampus Cats came up with their 9-0 push that included a pair of 3’s. Down 37-25, the Hornets ended their drought when Thomas grabbed an offensive board and scored with 3:14 left.
After a Conway basket, the two teams battled for a while before Josh Robinson found the range from the 3-point arc, cutting the margin to 39-30. At the defensive end, he drew a charge to give Bryant a chance to cut further but the Hornets were unable to take advantage.
Conway scored the next 5 points and held on for the win despite buckets from Thomas and Lambert in the final 30 seconds.
The Hornets finish the regular season 12-12 overall and 5-4 in league play.