Rainey pours in 43 as Hornets outscore Eagles

Photos by Rick Nation and Kevin Nagle

It didn’t take the Vilonia Eagles long to realize that the Bryant Hornets were going to attack the basket. But try as they might to set up and take charges, they just weren’t quick enough to get into position as one after another, the Hornets sliced through their defense to either score or get to the free-throw line.

Cedarrian Crosby goes up for a shot as Vilonia's Jacob Fisher trails the play. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Cedarrian Crosby goes up for a shot as Vilonia’s Jacob Fisher trails the play. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Senior guard C.J. Rainey didn’t take many outside shots for the Hornets. He hit 1 of 3 from 3-point range. But after missing his first three shot attempts, he proceeded to connect on 12 of his next 17 from the field to go with an 18-of-21 performance from the free-throw line, scoring a whopping 43 points to lead Bryant to an 87-73 win in the preseason game to benefit the Arkansas Activities Association catastrophic injury insurance.

It has probably been since the 1980’s that a Hornets’ player has scored that many points in a game, perhaps no one since the renowned Willie Cutts — if then.

Asked if he’d take 43 from Rainey every night, Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson, who hadn’t realized until after the game that his senior had filled it up quite that much, said, “Forty-three?! Oh, my goodness! Yes. I’ll take that any night. That kid’s a scorer.”

Grayson Giles, after leading the Hornets with 8 points in the first then sitting out with foul trouble, wound up with 14 points, Cedarrian Crosby 10. Senior Caleb Strain, who has been recovering from injuries sustained in a car wreck last November, made his return to the court in the game and drilled a pair of 3-pointers to match freshman Desmond Duckworth’s 6.

And despite playing against a taller Vilonia team (with a 6-7 and a pair of 6-5 players), the Hornets out-rebounded their opponent 32-28 while forcing a whopping 28 turnovers. Rainey, by the way, was also the game’s top rebounder with eight.

Greyson Giles (1) shoots over Vilonia's Cameron Wilkins. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Greyson Giles (1) shoots over Vilonia’s Cameron Wilkins. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

 

“I loved our effort,” Abrahamson stated. “I loved our hustle. The kids were just everywhere, trying really hard. That’s always what I’m going to be most proud of.

“From an X and O standpoint, scoring 87 points is really good,” he acknowledged. “We did a good job of getting to the free-throw line. It seemed like we were there all night. We were very aggressive and moving the ball and, for the most part, patient. There were not a lot of shots I didn’t like but there were a few.”

As a team, Bryant converted 34 of 44 from the line. Vilonia was 12 of 20.

“Defensively, I liked our effort,” Abrahamson related. “I liked our intensity but the things that we’ve been trying to work on — and they haven’t been grasping — I hope they can see now. We’ve got to do a better job with some of our concepts. We’ve got to do a better job contesting shots.

“Now, Vilonia shot it real well,” he noted, referencing the Eagles 25 of 42 from the field including 11 of 22 from 3-point range. “Give them credit. I think they’re going to be a good team in (Class) 5A. They were impressive. We were just able to out-score them.”

Nine of the 11 Hornets that played contributed to the scoring.

On the strength of a pair of 3’s by Lucas Nicholson and another by Jacob Fisher, Vilonia held the upper hand halfway through the first quarter, 11-6. Fisher, playing off the bench, led his team with 15 points including four treys. Cameron Wilkins added 14.

Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson directs from the sideline. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson directs from the sideline. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Two free throws by Giles started a Bryant surge into the lead. Off a Vilonia turnover, Crosby misfired but Giles rebounded and finished with a three-point play that tied it. With 1:32 left in the quarter, Giles added another free throw to give the Hornets the lead. Wilkins missed on a 3-ball, Rainey rebounded and went coast-to-coast for a basket and a foul. He converted the free throw and the Hornets were ahead to stay.

But Vilonia kept it tight. Early in the second quarter, the lead was just 19-18 before Duckworth converted both ends of a one-and-one. Romen Martin, another freshman, came up with a steal and Rainey scored on a driving spin move.

After Nathan Lazarus hit a free throw for the Eagles, Martin went high for an offensive rebound and stuck it back in. He followed up with another steal that Rainey again cashed in to make it 27-19.

In the final 4:30 of the half, the Hornets put together a 16-11 push with Rainey scoring 13 of those points as he wound up with 20 in the quarter. Duckworth contributed a pair of free throws and sophomore Kris Croom added one during that stretch and it was 43-30 at the half.

A four-point play by Fisher cut the lead to single digits but only momentarily. That’s when Strain stepped into back-to-back triples to push the lead to 15. A steal by Ricky Buchanan set up the second bomb.

Vilonia’s 6-7 Garrett Brown interrupted with a three-point play but Rainey hit a pair of free throws, Crosby made a steal and drove for a bucket. Buchanan knocked away a pass to Rainey on the defensive end and when Rainey was fouled again taking it to the hole, Vilonia took a timeout to regroup.

Desmond Duckworth (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Desmond Duckworth (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

When Rainey knocked down both free throws it was 55-37.

It was back and forth the rest of the way. Vilonia cut it to 11 with 1:57 left in the period but, after a Bryant timeout, Rainey was fouled again. This time, he missed the front end but Martin snatched the rebound and got it back to the senior who was fouled again. He connected on the second two.

Cody Moore hit a free throw for Vilonia but Rainey followed his own miss on the other end and scored. And, after Hayden Weaver couldn’t get his two free throws to drop, Rainey beat the buzzer to end the quarter with his 3 to make it 70-53.

The Eagles rallied back to within 11 but could get no closer. Leading 73-61 with 5:14 left, the Hornets got Giles to the line. He made the first but missed the second. Duckworth battled 6-5 Charlie Thomas for the rebound and the ball went out of bounds to the Hornets. Moments later, Giles scored and was fouled. The three-point play bumped it back to 77-61.

Leading 77-66 after a triple by Vilonia’s Jacob Greer with 3:39 left, the Hornets ran a little spread offense and pulled away again. Giles and Rainey each had a layup and, after the starters were pulled, Ketrick Wilson, with a three-point play, matched the Hornets’ biggest lead 86-69.

Bryant officially gets the season underway on Tuesday, Nov. 26, with a trip to North Pulaski High School.

 

HORNETS 87, EAGLES 73

Score by quarters

Vilonia            14       16       23       19 — 73

Bryant            15       28       27       17 — 87

EAGLES 73

Player          fg-fga  ft-fta   reb                  fls       pts

                                                o-d-t

Wilkins           5-7      2-3      1-6 7               4          14

Brewer           1-1      0-0      3-0 3               1          2

Newell             2-3      0-0      0-0 0               3          4

Nicholson       2-4      0-0      0-1 1               4          6

Brown             1-2      1-1      0-2 2               1          3

Fisher             5-7      1-1      0-0 0               4          15

Greer              2-6      0-0      0-2 2               2          6

Moore             2-3      1-4      1-1 2               2          5

Lazarus           2-3      3-4      1-2 3               0          7

Weaver           2-5      1-3      2-3 5               3          5

Thomas          0-0      2-2      0-0 0               4          2

Taylor             0-0      0-0      0-1 1               0          0

Harper            1-1      0-0      0-0 0               2          3

Jb.Berry          0-0      1-2      0-0 0               0          1

Jn.Berry          0-0      0-0      0-0 0               0          0

Team                                      0-2 2

Totals              25-42 12-20 8-20 28          30       73

HORNETS 87

Player           fg-fga  ft-fta   reb                  fls       pts

                                                o-d-t

Giles                4-11    6-8      3-2 5               3          14

Rainey            12-20 18-21  4-4 8               0          43

Strain              2-4      0-0      2-1 3               2          6

Buchanan       0-0      0-0      2-0 2               2          0

Crosby             4-9      2-4      0-2 2               5          10

Martin             1-1      0-0      2-1 3               4          2

Duckworth     1-6      4-4      1-1 2               1          6

Peters             0-2      1-2      1-1 2               3          1

Croom             0-1      2-4      3-0 3               2          2

Hunt               0-0      0-0      0-0 0               0          0

Wilson            1-1      1-1      0-0 0               0          3

Team                                      2-0 2

Totals              25-55 34-44 20-12 32        22       87

Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-14 (Strain 2-3, Rainey 1-3, Crosby 0-3 Duckworth 0-3, Giles 0-1, Peters 0-1), Vilonia 11-22 (Fisher 4-5, Greer 2-5, Nicholson 2-4, Wilkins 2-3, Harper 1-1, Weaver 0-2, Newell 0-1, Lazarus 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 10, Vilonia 28.

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