For more photos from this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
CONWAY — Even though the results wouldn’t change when, where or against whom the Bryant Hornets freshman team would play in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference post-season tournament in Benton on Wednesday, Feb. 15, it would’ve been nice to conclude the regular season with a victory, to gain a little momentum going into the tourney.
Instead, the Hornets will be looking for a fresh start with the arrival of the post-season as they absorbed a 48-36 loss to Conway White, a team they had thumped 43-25 at Bryant back on Jan. 5. It was Bryant’s third consecutive setback and its fifth in the last six games since they were tied for the conference lead.
It stands as it did going into the game. The Hornets, seeded fifth, will open the CAJHJC tourney against Conway Blue at 8:30 p.m. The two teams split during the regular season with Bryant prevailing 56-54 in overtime on Dec. 5 and Conway Blue winning 51-43 on Jan. 26.
Guard Marqelle Barnes scored all 6 of the Hornets’ first-quarter points. Conway White held an 11-6 lead at the break.
The second quarter began with the Hornets’ Ethan Hilkert scoring off the offensive glass but that was the last of Bryant’s scoring in the half, a dry spell of 5:26. Nine of the next 11 possession for the Hornets resulted in turnovers including a held ball and an offensive foul.
Over the first half, the Hornets had four field goals (in 13 attempts) while turning the ball over 15 times.
In the meantime, Conway White turned an 11-8 edge into a 23-8 halftime advantage with Shawn Smith scoring 8 of his game-high 22 points.
Andre Macon hit a 3 to extend the Cats’ lead to 18 before Barnes, who led Bryant with 12 points in the game, got a stickback, ending his team’s drought.
Showing much more spark, the Hornets trimmed more off the lead when Catrell Wallace blocked a shot by Smith. Colby Washington raced into the backcourt to out-flank a Conway player for the rebound. He took it straight to the hoop and, though he missed, Wallace was hustling back to grab the rebound and score.
Smith hit a layup to get his team back on track. The lead grew to 32-12 before Darrick Rose’s three-point play rekindled the Hornets. After an answering basket by Conway White, Keith Merriweather Jr., dropped a 3 on the Cats.
Smith answered then the Hornets commenced a bit of a run. Wallace scored inside then Barnes swiped a pass and drove for a layup. Following a miss by Conway White, Barnes fed Rose for an easy deuce to trim the margin to 36-24.
Down by 14 starting the fourth quarter, the Hornets hit back-to-back hoops as Merriweather hit a jumper in the lane and, moments later, Arlon Jenkins popped a short jumper after a spin move into the lane.
That cut the lead to 10 for the first time since midway through the second quarter. The Hornets cut the lead to single digits briefly down the stretch. Trailing 42-30, Rose and O.J. Newburn combined on a steal that led to a layup for Merriweather. In turn, the Cats misfired and Rose drained a 10-footer to make it 42-34.
They got a chance to get closer after a blocked shot but a turnover robbed them of the chance. Conway White pushed it back out to 14 at 48-34 before a late basket by Barnes set the final score.
WAMPUS CATS 48, HORNETS 36
Score by quarters
BRYANT 6 2 16 12 — 36
Conway White 11 12 15 10 — 48
Rose 3-4 1-1 7, Merriweather 3-11 0-0 7, C.Washington 0-5 0-0 0, Barnes 6-9 0-0 12, Wallace 2-2 2-2 6, Newburn 0-0 0-0 0, West 0-1 0-0 0, Hilkert 1-1 0-0 2, Jenkins 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 16-34 3-3 3.
WAMPUS CATS 48
Macon 2-5 0-0 5, Sandidge 3-8 0-0 6, Foster 2-6 0-0 5, Smith 11-20 0-0 22, Bohanon 2-4 2-2 6, White 1-4 1-2 4, Reed 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-47 3-4 48.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-6 (Merriweather 1-5, Rose 0-1), Conway White 3-7 (Macon 1-3, White 1-2, Foster 1-1, Smith 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 25, Conway White 16. Rebounds: Bryant 9-13 22 (Wallace 2-4 6, C.Washington 4-2 6, Barnes 2-2 4, Rose 0-2 2, West 0-2 2, Hilkert 1-0 1, team 0-1 1), Conway White 12-11 23 (Smith 8-3 11, Foster 1-2 3, Bohanon 0-3 3, Macon 1-0 1, Sandidge 0-1 1, team 2-2 4). Team fouls: Bryant 11, Conway White 9.