Missed free throws cost Hornets freshmen in close loss to Benton

Leon Neale goes high in traffic to claim a rebound for the Bryant Hornets Monday night. (Photo by Rick Nation)

By Rob Patrick

When all was said and done on Monday night at the Bryant Middle School gym, the Bryant Hornets freshman team had two more field goals than the rival Benton Panthers frosh. They had 10 more rebounds and hit just as many 3-pointers.

But Benton won.

The Panthers converted 14 of 20 free throws while the Hornets managed to hit just 4 of 13 with their misses including the front end of three bonus opportunities. The result was a 38-32 victory for Benton that spoiled Bryant’s hopes of forging a tie with their rivals for second place in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference.

Benton thus stays a game off the pace of front-running North Little Rock while the Hornets, 11-5 overall, fall to 4-3 going into this Thursday’s home game against Conway Blue.

The game was tight throughout. In fact, it was tied 25-25 with 1:22 left in the third quarter. But a three-point play by Blaze Magana put the Panthers ahead to stay. Bryant missed its first chance to answer but got a second when Scott Workman took charge on a drive by Benton’s Thaddeus Caffrey. Aaron Bell fed Jalen Hewitt for a basket inside and the Hornets closed to within 28-27.[more]

Bryant's Zach Cambron tries to drive around Benton's Blaze Magana. (Photo by Rick Nation)

But Collin Simmons drove to the basket, scored and was fouled moments later. And, though he missed the subsequent free throw, the Panthers were ahead 30-27 going into the fourth quarter.

Rickey Gipson took advantage of a Bryant turnover and hit a driving jumper that gave the Panthers a 32-27.

The Hornets’ Leon Neale scored off the offensive glass, one of 12 offensive rebounds Bryant players collected. The Hornets forced a turnover and with 2:21 left, Workman was sent to the line to shoot a one-and-one. His first shot refused to go but Neale claimed the rebound and got the ball to Marcus Wilson who was fouled on an unsuccessful shot. But the lid stayed on the bucket as neither shot would fall and, at the other end, Benton’s 6-7 post man Graham Gardner scored after claiming an offensive rebound, bumping the lead back to 5 going into the final two minutes.

Gipson added two free throws :45.4 showing and Benton had its largest lead of the game, 36-29.

At that point, the Panthers were 12 of 14 from the free-throw line in the game. They would attempt six more in the final 30 seconds and make just one enabling the Hornets to hang just close enough to have a chance. Aaron Bell hit a 3 with :22.3 left to cut the lead to 4 but that proved to be the last of Bryant’s points. Caffrey tacked on a pair of free throws in four attempts after that to help secure the victory.

Aaron Bell twists to scoop up a shot after driving around Benton's Zach Stuckey. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Gipson scored 13 points to lead all scorers. Caffrey added 9. For Bryant, Riley Hall, Hewitt and Bell each had 7.

The Panthers had opened up a 7-3 lead early but in the final 1:30 of the first quarter, Bryant surged into the lead. Hewitt hit a free throw then Luke Rayburn made a steal and pulled up in the lane for a short jumper that cut the lead to 1. After a Panther turnover, Hewitt got a layup to give the Hornets an 8-7 lead going into the second quarter.

After Caffrey scored on a fortunate bounce after he’d made a steal and tried to dunk the ball, Rayburn connected on two free throws. Workman swiped the ball and Bell hit a driving layup that had the Hornets ahead 12-9. Gardner and Gipson responded with back-to-back buckets as Benton regained the lead with 3:53 left in the half. The two teams traded points the rest of the half with most of Benton’s coming from the free-throw line.

With 1:27 left in the half, Workman found Hall for a layup tat tied the game 18-18. Magana converted a pair of free throws but Hall scored off a lob to the backside of the Benton zone in response. But Gipson snapped the deadlock with a pair of free throws with :28 left (the eighth and ninth conversion in 10 attempts during the quarter) before the Hornets turned the ball over with :07.5 showing. Caffrey connected on a long-range 3-point bomb at the buzzer and the Panthers held a 25-20 lead.

In the third quarter, neither team could score until, with 3:51 left, Hall drained a 3 to cut the lead to 2. It stayed 25-23 until the final two minutes of the quarter. Strodney Davis got a chance at the line for Bryant with 1:53 left but missed both shots. Moments later, however, Hewitt got open inside and scored to make it a 25-25 game setting up Magana’s clutch play that put the Panthers up for good.


Score by quarters

Benton 7 18 5 8 — 38

BRYANT 8 12 7 5 — 32


Simmons 2-3 2-2 6, Gipson 3-5 6-6 13, Caffrey 3-7 2-4 9, Stuckey 0-2 0-1 0, Gardner 2-4 0-0 4, Foote0-0 1-2 1, Magana 1-2 3-3 5, Torres 0-1 0-0 0, Jamison 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 11-24 14-20 38.


S.Davis 0-0 0-2 0, Wilson 0-4 0-2 0, Hall 3-7 0-0 7, Neale1-3 0-0 2, Cambron 2-2 1-3 5, Rayborn 1-1 2-3, Bell 3-12 0-0 7, Hewitt 3-3 1-2 7, J.Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Workman 0-2 0-1 0. Totals: 13-24 4-13 32.

Three-point field goals: Benton 2-6 (Caffrey 1-3, Gipson 1-2, Torres 0-1), Bryant 2-11 (Bell 1-5, Hall 1-4, Wilson 0-2). Rebounds: Benton 17, Bryant 27. Turnovers: Benton 9, Bryant 9. Team fouls: Benton 16, Bryant 17.

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