Talented, home-standing Lions overcome Hornets’ fast start

By Rob Patrick

SEARCY — The Bryant Hornets certainly got the attention of the Searcy Lions Friday night at the Searcy Bank Classic.

The Hornets opened the game with an 11-2 run[more] and led 13-7 at the end of the first quarter. But Searcy, 5-1 on the season, hit 7 of 12 from 3-point range in the second and third quarters and its first two 3’s in the fourth on the way to a 62-41 win over Bryant.

The Hornets also had their hands full with 6-8 senior forward Jamal Jones who piled up 20 points in the game including one of those triples.

On Saturday, Searcy was set to play Benton for the Classic championship while the Hornets take on Wynne at 4:30 p.m.

Bryant did its own 3-point bombing in that opening salvo. Brantley Cozart started the game with a 3 and, a little later, worked a give-and-go with teammate Quinton Motto for a layup. The 6-6 Motto stepped out and nailed a troika to make the Bryant lead 8-0 and forcing a Searcy timeout.

Jones, who had missed a pair of 3’s to that point, was taken out of the game at that point.

When play resumed, the Lions got on the board with a short jumper by Jordan Hopper but Cozart answered with his second trey and the lead was 11-2.

A three-point play by Chris Blakley trimmed the advantage but, after Jones returned, Bryant sophomore Aaron Bell knocked down a driving jumper with :13 left in the quarter to make it 13-5. Blakley, however, hit a jump hook with :05 to play and it was 13-7 going into the second quarter.

That basket started a 13-0 run for the home-standing Lions that included a pair of 3’s by Blakley and another by Dez Stegall.

“We had a really good first quarter and I think that mabe we caught them off guard a little bit,” acknowledged Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson. “They responded. They came out in the second quarter and really picked it up physically and hit some shots. That’s a good team and they’re a tough team and they’re a physical team.

“We want to be physical but you could tell, they’ve been doing it for a while and it’s a habit for them,” the coach mentioned. “Sometimes, we confuse toughness with retaliation and it’s not the same thing. We have to do our job. If we get pushed then we have to continue to do our job, set a screen or block out. We can’t just push back or grab a jersey or throw an elbow. We’ve got to keep playing. That’s what toughness is. It’s not getting in somebody’s face or pushing back or any of that silly stuff. We’re still learning that.”

And it’s a valuable lesson for the inexperienced Hornets because as physical as it got against Searcy, it was like patty-cake compared to the play in the conference the Hornets are in, the 7A-Central.

Trailing 28-17 at halftime, the Hornets made a bid to put together a third quarter similar to the first when they opened with a 7-0 surge. Motto fed senior Kyle Nossaman for a layup at the start of the period. After a Searcy miss, senior Houston Garner buried a 3. Jones missed at the Searcy end and Garner, on the wing at the other end, pump faked a 3 to get the defense to come out then drove around the defender to the baseline for a basket.

The 11-point lead was down to 4 but Searcy answered with a 12-0 run that including 3’s from Blakley and Casey Wilmath along with a dunk by Jones.

It was actually the inability of the Hornets to stop the slashing Lions inside that concerned Abrahamson.

“What I’m upset with is the way they were able to cut through the lane and the layups that they got,” the coach stated. “If we could’ve kept them out of the lane and kept them from shooting layups, maybe that would’ve affected their 3-point shooting. If we could’ve got them to just settle for shots. We were trying to, at least, take away what they were doing inside with their cutters and giving up layups. We ended up, we couldn’t take that away either.”

After suffering a scoreless stretch of five minutes in the first half, the Hornets had another of 3:30 in the third quarter when Searcy took control of the game.

“There were times when our guys started showing a little bit of the passiveness that we showed in our first two games,” said Abrahamson. “Also, at times, we’re trying to run something offensively and our players just break down and start doing their own thing. They don’t trust the offense enough when it’s been shown they’re going to get good shots when they’re aggressive and they run what we do. I think perhaps there were times when our guys just wanted to bring us back on their own, which is not the way we want to do it.”

Bryant trailed 45-28 going into the final period. Wilmath, who hit all four of his 3-point tries in the second half after going Oh-fer in the first half, canned a trey to star the fourth quarter, giving the Lions their first 20-point lead. Bell answered with a driving jumper in the lane but another trey by Wilmath trumped that.

And a basket on a pull-up pop by Bell was countered by a three-point play by Jones. Zach Cambron scored inside only to have Jones turn in another three-point play on a drive to the rack to make it 57-34, the Lions’ biggest lead, with 3:30 left to play.

The margin didn’t dip below 20 the rest of the way.

“It’s going to hurt tonight but tomorrow we’ve got to move on and play Wynne,” Abrahamson declared. “We’ll try to come out and put on a good performance against them.”


Score by quarters

BRYANT 13 4 11 13 — 41

Searcy 7 21 17 17 — 62


Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts


Griffin 1-7 2-2 1-2 3 1 4

Cozart 3-6 0-1 0-4 4 0 8

Nossaman 2-5 0-0 1-0 1 2 4

Garner 4-5 0-0 0-3 3 4 10

Motto 1-2 0-0 0-3 3 2 3

Moore 0-0 0-0 1-2 3 3 0

Cambron 2-4 1-1 0-2 2 3 5

Bell 3-5 1-3 1-1 2 1 7

Trudell 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Wilson 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Royal 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team 0-3 3

Totals 16-36 4-7 4-20 24 16 41



Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts


Wilmath 4-10 0-0 0-3 3 1 12

Powell 0-1 0-2 0-2 2 1 0

Jones 8-13 3-4 2-4 6 1 20

Blakley 7-8 1-1 0-2 2 3 18

Stegall 2-6 0-0 2-1 3 4 5

Hopper 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 2 2

Arnold 0-1 0-0 1-0 1 0 0

Woodruff 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2

Reynolds 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 0

Smothers 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Scarbrough 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Neal 1-2 1-1 0-0 0 0 3

Holden 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team 1-4 5

Totals 24-46 5-8 6-17 23 12 62

Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-13 (Cozart 2-4, Garner 2-3, Motto 1-1, Griffin 0-3, Bell 0-1, Wilson 0-1), Searcy 9-21 (Wilmath 4-7, Blakley 3-4, Stegall 1-4, Jones 1-3, Hopper 0-2, Reynolds 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 13, Searcy 5. 


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