Hornets bounce back from loss to edge Greenbrier at tourney
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).
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Sophomores Jaston Carter and Bennie Elder came off the bench to combine for 20 points as the Bryant Hornets came from behind for a 47-46 victory over the Greenbrier Panthers Monday in the first round of the Central Arkansas Christian Invitational Tournament.
The Hornets thus bounced back from their first loss of the season, a 55-34 setback at Searcy on Tuesday, Nov. 21.
With the win, Bryant advances to the semifinals of the tournament Thursday, Nov. 30, in a 9 p.m. game against the Lonoke Jackrabbits who upended Lake Hamilton (a AAAAA-South Conference rival of Bryant’s), 63-58.
Along with the input of their sophomore duo, the Hornets got a lift from a switch from their match-up zone to a man-to-man defense late in the first half and into the second half.
Greenbrier’s outside gunners Zach Lybarger and Tyler Bass helped shred the Bryant zone for six first-half 3-pointers. For the game, the Panthers hit 8 of 20 from long range. Lybarger had 11 points in the first half to lead his team to as much as a 21-12 advantage which became a 27-22 edge at the mid-game break.
Neither Lybarger nor Bass scored in the second half.
His 11 points matched Bryant’s Jeremy Reeves and Greenbrier’s Wes Goodman for game honors.
The Hornets’ rally continued in the third quarter during which they outscored the Panthers 15-6 to grab the lead.
After building a lead of as much as seven in the fourth period, the Hornets seemed in control. With just under three minutes left, the margin was six and Bryant went to its spread offense to burn clock.
“We had a few silly turnovers and they’d go down and make a shot and we’d come back and maybe make one of two free throws or not make any,” recalled Hornets head coach Leo Olberts. “It kind of went like that.”
The lead was down to two points with :16 left. Junior forward Ben Olberts hit one of two free throws. In turn, Greenbrier went for the tie with a 3-point attempt but the shot wouldn’t go. The Bulldogs rebounded and scored a 2-point bucket to cut the margin to one but all Bryant had to do was inbounds the ball to run out the clock and secure the victory.
Josh Ridge had 9 points for the Hornets. Olberts finished with 5 and Scott Yant 2. The team shot 17 of 33 from the field, just 1 of 7 from 3-point range.
“We were 8 of 12 from the free throw line but we missed four in the fourth quarter,” Coach Olberts noted. “If we hit our free throws and take care of the ball down the stretch, I thought we certainly could’ve won by 10. But we made it hard on ourselves.
“I thought our man defense, we played pretty well,” he added. “We struggled offensively. But I’m proud of the guys. After being down nine early, they sucked it up and got after it.”
Offensive struggles paid a toll for the Hornets in a rugged rumble at Searcy, however. A Bryant slump late in the first half allowed the Lions to gain control of the game with a 10-2 run, turning a two-point edge into a 10-point halftime lead.
Searcy’s physical, aggressive press proved to be a problem for Bryant.
The Lions led 13-10 at the end of the first quarter and, after trailing briefly in the opening stanza, never trailed.
And, after the late first-half salvo, Bryant couldn’t get any closer than eight points. Searcy led by as much as 20 late in the game.