Carter’s last-second trey lifts Hornets past Bears
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
Bryant Hornets seniors Jaston Carter and Benny Elder didn’t start Monday night’s home opener but they sure had a hand in how it ended.
Carter, who along with Elder was held out of the opening quarter of the game by head coach Mark Smith for disciplinary reasons, drilled a 3-point bomb at the buzzer to give the Hornets a thrilling 51-48 win over the Sylvan Hills Bears.
The win made Bryant 2-0 going into Tuesday’s contest with the rival Benton Panthers.
Sylvan Hills had tied the game at 48 on an offensive-rebound basket by Asa Mason with :11 to go. Smith called timeout with :08.3 showing to set up a play for Carter.
“It wasn’t even close to the play we set up,” Carter said after the game. “I was supposed to set a screen for B.J. (Wood) but I just ran to the corner and hit the shot.”
“Coach (Chad) Withers called it,” Smith said, crediting his assistant. “He said this is a perfect time to run that. So, if it hadn’t worked it was going to be his fault. No, he made a great call on it. What ended up happening was similar to what we wanted but Jaston didn’t stay up and screen long enough. He backed away and started spotting up before B.J. came across the screen. B.J. did a good job of seeing him and staying calm and Jaston hit a great shot.”
The coach was particularly pleased with the way his two seniors responded to not getting to start. Carter finished with 19 points and Elder 12 to lead the Hornets who were also boosted by a 13-rebound performance from senior Geoff Tucker.
“I thought they responded real well,” Smith said. “They really did. They came back (in the second quarter) and played really hard. They responded to some adversity, going in when we were down 12. Those guys sparked a run. I thought they responded great.”
“I deserved to sit out,” Carter said, “but when I came in I tried to step up for my team and play hard. I’ve been working on my (3-point) shot. It was falling tonight. It hasn’t been falling lately but tonight it was on.”
Carter’s 19 points included four 3-pointers, three of which came in the second quarter when the Hornets erased a 17-5 deficit, pulling even at 21 before a late basket by Mason gave the Bears a 23-21 halftime edge.
Sylvan Hills scored the first 9 points of the game as the Hornets struggled offensively. Tucker grabbed the first of his four offensive rebounds in the game with 2:30 left in the quarter and was fouled. He hit a free throw to break the ice for Bryant. Moments later, Drew Devasher canned a pair at the line to make it 14-3 and sophomore Keith Richardson made a steal and fed B.J. Wood for a layup to make it 14-5.
“I thought Geoff played great,” Smith noted. “We talked to him tonight. Coach Fox told him, you go out there and get eight rebounds and we win. He stepped up.
“We missed some easy shots, especially in the first quarter,” he added. “I guess some of the guys were a little bit tense being out there never having played as much as they have. We missed easy shots in the first but then we turned around in the second quarter and made some hard shots. I guess it evened out.”
Derrick Grant hit one of his four 3-pointers at the buzzer to give the Bears their 17-5 lead at the end of the quarter.
A layup off a steal by Wood started the second-period scoring. Carter followed up with back-to-back triples and the rally was on. Elder added a pair of free throws and a basket down low as the margin was whittled to 21-18. Tucker then swiped a pass that led to Carter’s tying trey.
“The hustle of the whole team was great,” Smith commented. “You can never fault these guys in that, everybody hustles so hard.
“Our execution was a lot better tonight too,” he mentioned. “We missed people though. We were executing right, we were getting our cuts, we were running our offense, but we missed (passing to) people that were open (for easy shots). And that’s still timing. Once we can ever get to that point where we can get our timing down, see our cutters and hit our cutters . . . “
Carter scored and was fouled to open the second half, tying the game at 23. He missed the free throw but Elder rebounded and scored to give the Hornets their first lead at 25-23.
Tucker fed Carter for a layup then Devasher got an assist on a basket in traffic under the basket by Richardson as the lead grew to 29-23. Sylvan Hills rallied to tie at 29 and 33 before Grant hit a twisting, driving layup with :06 left to put the Bears up 35-33 going into the fourth quarter.
Bryant regained the lead with 6:15 to go on a steal and layup by Carter. The Bears’ Emmanuel Johnson hit two free throws but Wood nailed a 3.
Mason tied it but Richardson hit two free throws and Elder hit a spinning jumper in the lane to make it 45-41 with 2:30 to go. James Jackson answered with a 3 and Mason scored again to put Sylvan Hills ahead by a point at the 1:07 mark.
Wood hit a pair of clutch free throws with :55 to go, putting Bryant back on top by 1. Grant misfired and Tucker was fouled on the rebound. He hit the front end but, after a timeout, missed the second with :34 left, setting up the final dramatic scenario.