By Rob Patrick
PEARCY — After falling behind 16-3 in the first half, the Bryant Hornets freshman team rallied to within a point at the end of the third quarter and down just two in the final minute of the game. But they just couldn’t manage to gain the lead as the Lake Hamilton Junior Wolves held on for a 37-32 home win on Monday night.
The loss dropped the Hornets to 4-2 on the season going into a home game on Thursday against Conway White.
The team includes Phillip Barnett, Dakota Besancon, Chase Christie, Brandon Cranford, Cedarrian Crosby, Evan Davis, Trevor Ezell, Greyson Giles, T.J. Hall, Austin Hammonds, Hunter Holder, Matt Jernigan, Spencer Kilgore, Slade Lewis, Madre London, Dylan Masters, Davis Nossaman, Gray Orman, Garrett Phillips, C.J. Rainey, Brian Reed, Mitchell Scoggins, Caleb Strain and Christian Washington.
“Coming off the break, I didn’t think we were focused in our walk through,” mentioned Hornets coach Steve Wilson. “I think too many things happened even during the day where we just weren’t getting prepared like we need to. And you’ve got to give it to Lake Hamilton. They came out and played aggressive. They wanted it real bad.
“I thought we wanted it real bad in the second half and I thought we did some things that got us back in the game and probably should’ve got us the lead but we got a few bad breaks,” he added.
“We went into our press and got some steals. We weren’t hustling back on defense and that hurt us in the first half. The second half, we were a lot better at that, even when they scored. They still hurt us on the boards pretty bad.”
The two teams banged on each other under the boards with Lake Hamilton get the best of it with 35 rebounds to Bryant’s 20. Sixteen of the Wolves’ rebounds were on the offensive end where Wilson and the Bryant fans felt like over-the-back fouls were ignored. So when Strain was called for being over a Lake Hamilton players’ back even though Strain was falling back, the frustrated coach lodged the last of a series of complaints and was hit with a technical.
The Hornets trailed 32-28 at the time and instead of Strain going to the line, Lake Hamilton’s Spencer Turner did with 1:06 left to play. He converted both free throws and the Wolves got the ball with their 34-28 lead.
But Bryant forced a turnover and, with :52 to play, London attacked the basket and was fouled. His free throws trimmed the lead to 4.
After a timeout, the Hornets forced yet another turnover and London cashed in to cut the lead to 34-32 with :45 left in the game.
And the Hornets got a chance to tie it by forcing yet another miscue by the Wolves only to miss. Trevor Mittelstadt hit a layup with :24 showing and Bryant’s fate was sealed.
London scored all 15 of his game-high point total in the second half including a 3-pointer from midcourt at the buzzer ending the third quarter. C.J. Rainey added 8 points including a 3 in the first quarter that was almost all Bryant could manage in the first half.
Rainey’s 3 came after Lake Hamiton jumped to a 7-0 lead and it was answered with a 9-0 run. A basket by Roger White in the final seconds of the first quarter started the surge, providing the Wolves with a 9-3 lead going into the second quarter.
The Hornets didn’t score again until there was just 45 seconds left in the half. Giles’ three-point play made it 16-6 at the break.
The press Bryant used in the second half, helped force 13 Lake Hamilton turnovers after intermission, 19 for the game.
Giles hit a free throw early in the third period and Scoggins scored on an inbounds play. Another Giles free throw had the margin down to 16-10.
White, who led his team with 10 points, provided the Wolves’ first points of the second half at the 4:54 mark. London answered inside off a sweet feed from Strain.
Malik Blevins added a stickback for the Wolves but Rainey hit a floater in the lane and London connected on a pair of free throws after a drive to the rack, trimming the lead to 20-16.
It was 22-18 going into the final minute of the quarter. Both teams missed opportunities to change the score. Bryant had a basket wiped out after a steal by Chase Christie and Davis Nossaman led to a traveling violation that Wilson protested.
Nevertheless, the Hornets forced another Wolves turnover with :02.7 to go and took advantage of it when a long inbounds pass reached London at center court. He squared up and fired in a bomb from midcourt and Bryant trailed just 22-21.
But the fourth quarter didn’t start well for the Hornets. Free throws by Levi Rengstorf and Blevins made it 25-21 before Rainey drove and dumped to Scoggins for a basket to make it a 2-point game with 4:29 left.
Consecutive baskets by White followed and the Wolves had a chance to add to the 29-23 lead. But London made a steal and scored to keep the Hornets close.
They cut it to 30-27 only to have Cade Hill grab the rebound off a teammate’s miss and score with 1:29 left, setting the stage for the finish.
JUNIOR WOLVES 37, JUNIOR HORNETS 32
Score by quarters
BRYANT 3 3 15 11 — 32
Lake Hamilton 9 7 6 15 — 37
Rainey 3-5 1-2 8, Strain 0-2 0-0 0, Giles 1-5 3-7 5, London 5-16 4-4 15, Scoggins 2-3 0-0 4, Holder 0-0 0-0 0, Crosby 0-0 0-0 0, Nossaman 0-0 0-0 0, Hall 0-1 0-0 0, Christie 0-1 0-0 0, Orman 0-1 0-0 0, Kilgore 0-0 0-0 0, Masters 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-34 8-13 32.
Hill 1-3 0-0 2, Turner 0-4 2-2 2, MIttelstadt 3-15 2-5 8, Blevins 3-5 1-2 7, White 5-8 0-0 10, Rengstorf 1-4 4-8 6, Pearson 0-0 0-0 0, Steed 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 14-40 9-17 37.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-12 (London 1-4, Rainey 1-2, Giles 0-3, Strain 0-2, Orman 0-1; Lake Hamilton 0-4 (Hill 0-2, Turner 0-2). Rebounds: Bryant 20 (London 5, Giles 4), Lake Hamilton 35 (Mittelstadt 11). Turnovers: Bryant 17, Lake Hamilton 19. Team fouls: Bryant 13, Lake Hamilton 12. Technical foul: Bryant coach Wilson.