Russellville’s 1-2 punch puts Bryant in a bind

Photos by Kevin Nagle

When the Bryant Hornets and the Russellville Cyclones met the first time on the final day of the annual Coke Classic in Fort Smith, the Hornets prevailed 59-53. When the two 7A/6A-Conference rivals met again on Tuesday night at the Hornets’ Nest, it was the Cyclones that came out on top 70-57.

The difference?

Kevin Hunt tries to evade a defender on as he goes up for a shot. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Kevin Hunt tries to evade a defender on as he goes up for a shot. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Most obviously, it was Russellville’s 6-5 senior Andy Campbell. Take away his 20 points, not to mention his 11 rebounds, and Bryant’s up 57-50 at the end.

Of course, it’s not that simple. The Cyclones also got 28 points and 15 rebounds from 6-6 post Kris Patrick. And, using a triangle-and-two defense to try to slow down Bryant’s top scorers Romen Martin and Kevin Hunt, the Cyclones rushed out to a 17-2 lead in the first quarter. So, even when the Hornets got things worked out on offense, they were climbing a hill all the way. They made runs in both halves. In the first, they cut that 15-point deficit to 6 with :43 left in the half. But a basket by Russellville’s Jacob Boles (who spent much of the night setting up Patrick with drive-and-dish moves), followed by a buzzer-beating tip-in by Campbell had the Cyclones up by 10 at the break.

And a strong start to the second half had Russellville back up by 16, 43-27, before Martin shook free for back-to-back 3’s to cut it to 10.

The lead lingered from 10 to 12 points for a long time after that before the Cylcones put together a push to set final score.

“When you get in a big hole like that, it’s hard to overcome,” said Hornets coach Mike Abrahamson. “We made some runs at it.

“We scored enough points tonight even though we had a rough first quarter,” he noted. “It was our defense that let us down. We don’t want (Campbell) to touch it and he scores 20 points. That’s not going to work out too well. We don’t block out all night long. They’re getting several offensive rebounds and several chances to score it even when they do miss. That’s on me to fix that and I’m going to.”

The Cyclones had 39 rebounds. Bryant had just 17. Patrick and Campbell each had six boards on the offensive end among their collection.

Lowell Washington (32) tries to get a shot over Russellville's Kris Patrick. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Lowell Washington (32) tries to get a shot over Russellville’s Kris Patrick. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

“They’re a good team,” Abrahamson asserted. “Their record (6-10 overall and 0-3 in conference coming into the game) doesn’t indicate how good they are.”

Indeed, the Cyclones’ three league losses were by one in overtime to Alma, by 10 to Conway, and by one against Siloam Springs.

“(Campbell) missed a lot of time with a stress fracture,” Abrahamson mentioned. “He hasn’t — until their last game — played a full game. He comes in and makes a serious impact on the game. He’s already signed a scholarship offer to Southwest Baptist in Missouri. He’s really good. You can’t leave him open and you can’t give him any glimmer of daylight to get a shot off. He has the quickest release.

“But the other players around him a really good too,” he stated. “Obviously, (Patrick) hurt us. He has great hands and feet. He uses that body well.”

Despite the “junk” defense, Hunt scored 18 points and Martin 13 for the Hornets. Calvin Allen added 12 and Wesley Peters 8.

“I anticipated that (triangle-and-two) and tried to prepare our team for that but the thing about it is, it’s hard for kids to change their mentality,” said Abrahamson. “It’s not as much the X’s and O’s as it is the mentality of having a role change. I thought we were as prepared as we could be for never seeing it in a game, only doing it in practice. We’ve practiced it ever since the start of the new year. I thought we’d be more prepared for that.

“It’s more of a mindset than a scheme,” he added. “Our other kids should’ve felt a little bit more disrespected and want to step up. And maybe they were. Maybe we just couldn’t convert. Calvin was very aggressive all game and we needed that. Wesley hit a couple of 3’s and Kaleb (Turner), I didn’t think was timid at all. He just couldn’t get anything to fall. Those guys were in the right mindset but it just wasn’t enough.”

Romen Martin fires up a shot over Russellville's Jacob Boles. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Romen Martin fires up a shot over Russellville’s Jacob Boles. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Bryant’s only basket of the first quarter was an offensive rebound by Marvin Moody with 3:20 left. At the time, the Hornets trailed just 6-2. That’s when Campbell and Patrick started to have an impact. They combined for the next 11 points.

To start the second period, Hunt and Peters drained consecutive triples. Russellville’s Tony Jones drove for a basket but Allen answered and it was 19-10. After a free throw from Campbell, Hunt followed his own miss to trim the margin to 8.

With 2:59 left, the Cylcones’ lead was 10 again. That’s when the Hornets started their push. Hunt hit a baseline jumper and Russellville turned it over. Ricky Allen appeared to have a three-point play possibility but didn’t get the benefit of the call. The bucket was wiped out and he was called for a charge.

Moments later, however, Hunt made a steal and layup and the margin was trimmed to 24-18. Two free throws by Kentrel Scott were answered by the Hornets’ Antavious Lewis to make it 6-point game again. But two baskets in the last :32.1 pushed the lead back out to 10.

Patrick and Campbell scored all the points in the Cyclones’ 13-5 run to start the second half before Martin’s 3’s. Calvin Allen and Patrick traded baskets and Russellville held a 50-39 lead going into the fourth quarter.

That was as close as the Hornets would get in the fourth quarter. Scott drove for a layup and Calvin Allen answered but after Patrick posted up for a bucket and Scott followed with two free throws, it was a 15-point margin.

Russellville’s largest lead was 68-50 going into the final two minutes of the game. The Hornets continued to scramble but they couldn’t get closer than the final margin.

Bryant will try to get back on track this Friday at Alma.

CYLCONES 70, HORNETS 57

Score by quarters

Russellville     17       13       20       20 — 70

BRYANT          2          18       17       18 — 57

CYCLONES (7-10, 1-3) 70

Temple-Laws 2-6 0-0 4, Boles 2-4 0-0 4, Jones 2-8 2-2 6, Patrick 11-13 6-6 28, Campbell 7-15 6-7 20, Scott 2-3 4-6 8, McKown 0-0 0-0 0, Laws 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-49 (53%) 18-22 (82%) 70.

HORNETS (8-9, 2-2) 57

C.Allen 6-14 0-2 12, Peters 3-8 0-0 8, Lewis 2-3 0-0 4, Martin 5-12 0-0 13, Washington 0-4 0-0 0, Hunt 5-7 6-7 18, Moody 1-1 0-0 2, Turner 0-3 0-0 0, Sahr 0-0 0-0 0, R.Allen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-52 (42%) 6-9 (67%) 57.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 7-19 (Martin 3-7, Peters 2-6, Hunt 2-2, Turner 0-3, C.Allen 0-1), Russellville 0-6 (Jones 0-4, Campbell 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 10, Russellville 15. Rebounds: Bryant 9-8 17 (Lewis 2-3 5, C.Allen 1-3 4, Martin 2-1 3, Washington 1-0 1, Hunt 1-0 1, Moody 1-0 1, team 1-1 2), Russellville 15-24 39 (Patrick 6-9 15, Campbell 6-5 11, Jones 0-4 4, Scott 1-1 2, McKown 1-1 2, Temple-Laws 0-2 2, team 1-2 3). Team fouls: Bryant 20, Russellville 13.

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