Third-quarter barrage blows up Bryant’s opener at Crabtree Invitational

BENTONVILLE — Senior Deron Canada poured in a career-high 22 points as the Bryant Hornets forged a 78-59 victory over the Bentonville Hornets 18-and-under home school team on Wednesday to improve to 2-0 on the season.

Bryant is halfway through a stretch of four games in four days. The contest was the first of three in the Crabtree Invitational Tournament at Bentonville High School.

The game was a shootout over the first half with Bryant building a 21-17 lead by the end of the first quarter and 45-31 at the half. In the third quarter, Bryant hit six 3-pointers and buried the home schoolers. The 71-43 lead quickly went to 30 points early in the final stanza, inducing the mercy rule with a running clock.

Reserves played most of the fourth quarter, getting some valuable varsity playing time, though the home-schoolers out-scored them 16-7.

Khalen Robinson and Sam Chumley each had 13 points. Rodney Lambert added 11 and Camren Hunter 8. Off the bench, K.J. Merriweather scored 6, Ethan Hilkert 4 and Catrell Wallace 1.

“It wasn’t without its frustrations but we won,” said Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson. “Defensively, more than anything. Again, we started off just not as urgent defensively as we want to. So, we turned up the pressure.

“The team we played, they’re good,” he noted. “They’ve got some good players. They’ve got some kids that can really score the ball. And they’re tough to play against because they’re just very unorthodox in the way they play.

“Our pace — they couldn’t maintain that pace,” the coach explained. “They would kind of go in waves where they could play at that pace but they also had stretches where they’d turn the ball over or take a quick shot and miss and we’d rebound and go.

“It was good for our kids,” he added. “We got to play more kids, get some kids experience.”

His concerns about the defense notwithstanding, Abrahamson said, “Offensively, I liked pretty much what I saw, a lot of what we wanted. We played the game, offensively, the way we wanted, kept it pretty simple, drove it and hit the open guy and took open shots.

“Thirty-one points at the half was just too much to give up,” he added. “We weren’t doing a good job but, I tell you, the third quarter, we looked pretty impressive both defensively and offensively. We fouled a lot but in the third quarter we didn’t put them on the line at all. We created turnovers and turned them into points. I was really pleased with that.”

The Hornets’ third game in as many days will begin this evening at 5 p.m., against Clarksville. They’ll play host Bentonville on Friday.

“We were able to get some guys a little bit of rest (Wednesday),” Abrahamson acknowledged. “It wasn’t a great stretch for us (in the fourth quarter). We need those guys to get better. It was frustrating but that’s how they grow.”

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