Lake Hamilton spoils Hornets’ bid for three straight wins

Bryant sophomore Leon Neale (33) looks for room on the baseline to get past Lake Hamilton's Roy Hurst. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)By Rob Patrick

Photos by Kevin Nagle 

Bryant Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson expected that his team, playing its fourth game in five days, might be a little dead-legged on Monday night when they host the Lake Hamilton Wolves.

Ironically, the Hornets showed plenty of life on offense, scoring a season-high 63 points, while on defense,[more] where they had been most consistent all season, they gave up a season-high 69 points as the Wolves escaped with a win.

Kyle Nossaman (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

The Hornets were denied a third-consecutive victory by the Wolves who hit 9 of their 11 shots in the fourth quarter, which started with the game tied at 44.

“By the fourth quarter, their confidence should’ve been sky high,” Abrahamson said of the Wolves, “because, early on in the game, we weren’t doing a good job contesting their shots and they were getting to offensive glass pretty well.

“We were right with them (going into the fourth quarter) because, offensively, we had a nice bounce in our step,” he added. “We were scoring well tonight. But we could not stop them. I’m very upset with our defensive performance, which is what we’ve prided ourselves on here, since day one.

“That wasn’t the same team that we had Friday against Sheridan or Saturday against Camden Fairview,” the coach concluded, referring to the Hornets' victories at the Cyclone Classic in Russellville.

The Wolves quickly scored the first 7 points of the final period. And, after a Bryant timeout, they had a chance to add to that. But Hornets’ junior Quinton Motto blocked a shot. Brantley Cozart grabbed the deflection and got the ball upcourt. Jordan Griffin found Houston Garner in the corner for a 3 and, with the home crowd revving up, the Hornets appeared to be making a move.

Bryant's Brantley Cozart goes up for a shot around Lake Hamilton's Blake Tilley. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Motto blocked another shot and was fouled. He made a free throw to cut the margin to 51-48.

Lake Hamilton’s Cody Jackson, however, answered with a 3 and, after Griffin hit the offensive glass for a basket, Lake Hamilton reeled off a 5-0 run to extend the advantage to 59-50 with just under three minutes to play.

An inbounds play to Motto got the Hornets back on track with 2:48 to go. A Lake Hamilton turnover and a stickback by Cozart trimmed the margin to 59-54.

But that was as close as Bryant would get. The Wolves pushed the lead back out to 10 going into the final minute.

Griffin, who led all scorers with 21 points, knocked down a 3 but the Hornets never got any closer to the final margin after that.

Jackson led four Lake Hamilton players in double figures with 19. Jimmy Porter added 17.Cozart finished with 18 for the Hornets. Motto had 9, Garner 8 and Kyle Nossaman 7 to complete the scoring.

Bryant's Jordan Griffin led all scorers with 21 points. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

The game was a seesaw battle early. Garner hit a free throw to make it 10-10 then a three-point play on a drive by Griffin gave the Hornets a lead they held onto for most of the next two quarters.

Jackson answered Griffin’s bucket but Nossaman’s offensive-rebound bucket in the final seconds of the quarter had the Hornets up 15-12.

Griffin and Jackson traded baskets early in the second period. Bryant led 24-22 with five minutes left in the half. Nossaman’s reverse layup off a feed by Motto was followed by a 3 from Griffin and the Hornets were up 29-22. After a timeout, Jackson scored but Griffin answered.

That, however, was the last of Bryant’s scoring in the half. Sparked by Porter’s 3, the Wolves rallied to knot it at 31 going into the intermission.

Still, the Hornets did not relinquish the lead until late in the third. Motto hit a follow shot to snap the tie early in the third. Cozart buried a 3 off a feed from Nossaman who led the Hornets with five rebounds including an offensive board that set up Cozart’s trey. Nossaman and Motto combined on a steal and a driving jumper by Cozart extended the lead to 38-31.

That’s when Lake Hamilton began its rally. A baseline drive for a layup by Porter with 1:23 left in the quarter, had the Wolves up 43-42. He would add a free throw in the final minute before Griffin beat the buzzer with a jumper in the lane, tying the game at 44.

Now 2-7, Bryant will take on Benton for the third time this season at the Panthers’ gym this Friday, hoping the third time’s the charm.

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