Opening 3-point barrage, clamp-down defense lifts Hornets past Rockets

By Rob Patrick

Photos by Kevin Nagle 

The Bryant Hornets hit more 3-pointers in the first quarter than the Catholic[more] Rockets hit field goals in the first half.

Jordan Griffin launches one of his four 3-pointers over Catholic's Carter Morse. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

That’s how you blow a game up quickly.

Bryant roared to a 37-11 halftime lead and, using a spread offense in the second half, finished up with the sportsmanship rule in effect on the way to a 50-23 victory in the 7A/6A-Central Conference opener for both teams Friday night.

The Hornets, fresh from capturing the championship of the Spa City Shootout, have now won four games in a row and eight of their last nine. They’ll continue league play on Tuesday with the long trip to Van Buren.

The Hornets held the Rockets to just 20 percent shooting from the field in the first half, 28 percent for the game.

“I’m proud of our defensive effort again,” commented Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson. “We really pride ourselves there. I’m just really proud of how difficult they made it for Catholic to do what they wanted to do. Of course, coming out and shooting the ball the way we did — when you’re doing that, everything else seems to be going well too.”

Jordan Griffin drilled three 3’s, Brantley Cozart one and Anthony Black another during the first quarter barrage, which produced a 17-7 lead. Griffin added a fourth triple in the second quarter to account for his team-high 12 points. Black finished with 9 points all in the first half and all 6 of Cozart’s came before intermission.

Zach Cambron, left, starts a move to the basket against Catholic's Matt Morris. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

C.J. Rainey came off the bench to pitch in with 7. Quinton Motto had 8.

“We kept out turnovers under 10 and I’m happy about that,” Abrahamson said. “We held them to a very low shooting percentage so we’re happy about that. We gave up only six offensive rebounds so I’m happy with that. I thought we fouled them too much but, all in all, I’m just really proud of their effort.”

The Rockets never led. Cozart’s deep 3 opened the scoring and, after Catholic’s Matt Morris hit a follow shot, Griffin drained his first trey. Moments later, he followed up a Rockets turnover with his second bomb making it 9-2 and forcing a timeout by the visitors.

Morris, who would end up leading all scorers with 13 points to go with a game-high nine rebounds, added a free throw when play resumed. Sam Greenwood added two more to make it 9-5 but Motto fed Black for a bucket and Griffin nailed his third 3 to make it 14-5.

After Morris scored again, Black trumped him with his troika sending the game to the second quarter with a 10-point difference.

No one for Catholic besides Morris would managed more than 2 points. Carter Morse got his 2 at the start of the second period but Bryant answered with a 6-0. Zach Cambron his a free throw then Cozart was fouled on a 3-point attempt and converted all three free throws. So, when Motto hit a reverse layup, Bryant’s lead was 23-9.

Jalen Hewett (24) takes a shot over a pair of Rockets defenders. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

As it turned out, Morse’s field goal with 7:48 left in the half was the last for the Rockets until early in the third quarter. Lee Fox hit a free throw for Catholic to interrupt Bryant’s surge and the Rockets had a chance to cut the lead further only to have Cambron step in and take a charge. At the other end, Cambron got credit for a tip-in that may have been off the hand of Fox.

Motto fed Jalen Hewett for a short jumper then Black hit a running jumper to bump the margin to 29-10. Morris hit a free throw but then Black drove for a layup, Rainey hit a pair of free throws and Hewett added one. Griffin capped off the opening blitz with that fourth triple putting Bryant up by 26 at the half.

Motto then scored the first two buckets of the second half to increase the margin to 30.

Morris would score all 7 of his team’s points in the quarter but could only cut the margin to 23 as the Hornets responded to the Rockets’ extended trapping defense with a spread offense.

When Rainey scored off a dish from Cozart in the final seconds of the period, Bryant had a 44-18 advantage.

Anthony Black goes up for a lay-in. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

The lead eventually grew to 50-18 with 3:37 left to play. Logan Trudell’s free throws at that point came on the heels of a driving reverse layup with the off-hand by Motto that set the mercy rule off with 5:49 left in the game.

“They went to scrambling and trapping and we just went to that,” Abrahamson said of the spread. “It wasn’t necessarily our plan coming out of the half but when they did that, we went to it.

“Honestly, I would’ve liked to try to score more out of it but Catholic was doing a pretty good job of trapping us and making our guards play facing away from the basket so they couldn’t see people that maybe were open,” he added. “That’s just kind of the way the game went and we knew with the lead we had that we didn’t have to score though I would’ve liked to have been a little more aggressive.

“But we didn’t really turn it over and, eventually, we did get some layups out of it,” the coach noted. “It was just a response to what they were doing.”

The Hornets improved to 9-4, already surpassing last season’s total of seven wins and matching the total for the 2009-2010 season.

BRYANT 50, LITTLE ROCK CATHOLIC 23

Score by quarters

LR Catholic 7 4 7 5 — 23

BRYANT 17 20 7 6 — 50

ROCKETS 23

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts

o-d-t

Morse  1-1 0-0 0-1 1 3 2

Case 0-4 0-1 0-4 4 3 0

Greenwood 0-1 2-2 0-0 0 2 2

Reiners 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Morris 5-11 3-7 5-4 9 3 13

Bishop 0-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Luther 0-3 0-0 1-0 1 1 0

Fox 0-0 1-2  0-0 0 0 1

Diaz 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 2 0

S.Wilson 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Pence 0-0 1-2 0-0 0 0 1

Onyckwelu 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 0

Godsey 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Cronin 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2

Morris 1-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 2

Moody 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Team 0-1 1

Totals 8-29 7-14 6-12 18 18 23

HORNETS 50

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts

o-d-t

Black 4-7 0-0 0-2 2 1 9

Davis 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Motto 4-5 0-1 0-2 2 3 8

Cozart 1-4 3-3 0-1 1 2 6

Griffin 4-6 0-0 0-5 5 0 12

M.Wilson 0-2 0-0 1-1 2 0 0

Neale 0-0 0-0 1-1 2 3 0

Cambron 1-3 1-2 2-1 3 1 3

Hewett 1-2 1-2 2-1 3 0 3

Rainey 2-2 3-4 0-1 1 0 7

Trudell 0-1 2-2 1-0 1 0 2

Royal 0-2 0-2 0-1 1 1 0

Reed 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Rayburn 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0 0

Scoggins 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Giles 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team 1-2 3

Totals 17-34 10-16 8-19 27 12 50

Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-15 (Griffin 4-5, Black 1-3, Cozart 1-3, M.Wilson 0-2, Hewett 0-1, Trudell 0-1), LR Catholic 0-1 (Case 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 9, LR Catholic 13. 


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