After trailing 17-12 at the half, the Bryant White Hornets eighth-grade team of Bryant Middle School ambushed the Hot Springs Trojans eighth-graders in the second half, holding them to just 6 points and surging to a 31-23 victory on Monday night.
The Hornets forced 16 turnovers in the first half but only made 3 of 22 field goals as the Trojans were able to take the lead. Bryant had seven turnovers at the half but only committed one in the second half, while forcing Hot Springs into 14 more.
“Tonight, the game was tough,” said Hornets coach Richard Wrightner. “We started off on a 6-0 run. I think we kind of relaxed. I think we could’ve rebounded better. We turned the ball over a few times. We were rushing, rushing shots, not letting offensive plays develop.
“But that second half, we turned it totally around,” he noted. “We were diving for loose balls. We were hustling. We rebounded well. We made our free throws. Everything you can do in a complete game, we did in the second half. That elevated our spirits but also elevated the score for us.”
Chris Gannaway led the Hornets with 10 points. Jordan Knox added 8, Ivory Gilmore 5, Nasir Vinson 4 while Cory Nichols and Antonio Cage had 2 apiece.
Vinson also had a game-high seven rebounds.
That 6-0 run to start the game included baskets by Gilmore and Gannaway along with a pair of free throws by Vinson.
But the Hornets didn’t have another field goal the rest of the first quarter. Hot Springs came back to tie it 6-6 then Gilmore hit a free throw to put the Hornets on top, but the Trojans scored the last 4 points of the quarter to take a 10-7 lead.
Hot Springs built the lead to 15-8 before Nichols helped turn the Hornets around with a pair of free throws. Gilmore hit the offensive glass for a bucket, but the Trojans scored in the final minute to make it 17-12.
Hot Springs scored the first basket of the second half to produce its largest lead at 7 but the Hornets responded with a 10-0 run to take the lead.
Vinson started the spree off the offensive glass. Knox added a pair of free throws and in the final 30 seconds of the quarter, Gannaway canned an eight-foot jumper and Knox dropped a pair of free throws to make it 20-19 going into the fourth quarter.
Knox opened the final stanza with a 12-footer to make it 22-19 only to have Hot Springs drain a 3 to tie it with 4:14 left to play.
But the Trojans would only add a free throw the rest of the game. Knox’ layup snapped the tie and Gannaway nailed a trey to expand the margin. Nichols made a steal that led to a free throw for Gannaway and a 28-22 lead with 2:39 left.
With 1:15 to go, Hot Springs managed those two free throws. In the final 30 second, Antonio Cage and Gannaway added free throws to seal the victory.
The win improved Bryant White to 9-3 on the season going into a home game on Thursday against North Little Rock. They’re scheduled to play at North Little Rock on Monday to concluded the season.