Timeout snafu, basket at buzzer confounds Hornets freshmen

Bryant's Zach Cambron, right, drives around a Benton defender during Thursday's game. (Photo by Rick Nation)

By Rob Patrick

BENTON — Chalk up another controversy to the long list that pockmarks the history of Bryant-Benton competition.

Somewhere along the line on Thursday night at the Benton gym, there was confusion about who took a timeout. Folks on Bryant’s side (including yours truly) marked it down for the Panthers freshman team, folks on the Benton side (including the official scorebook keeper), marked it down as a Bryant timeout.

Now, during the high tension of a Bryant-Benton set-to of any sort, these things happen, particularly in the already high intensity atmosphere of a basketball game. But here’s why it mattered:

With :08 left, Bryant’s Riley Hall took a feed from Zach Cambron, who had drawn the Benton defense with the start of a drive from the high post. Hall, before the defense could adjust, banked in a short jumper that erased a 28-27 Benton lead, put the Hornets on top by a point.[more]

Benton called a timeout with :06.8 showing to set up a final play that, as it turned out, won the game — a drive from beyond the halfcourt line to the rack by Thaddeus Caffrey who’s shot beat the buzzer and gave Benton a 30-29 win.

Aaron Bell, 15, tries to get around Benton's Zach Stuckey on his way to 2 of his game-high 10 points. (Photo by Rick Nation)

By two scorebooks, that timeout with :06.8 showing was Benton’s sixth, one more than a team is allotted. It should’ve been a technical foul that would’ve not only sent a Hornets player to the free-throw line with a chance to expand their 29-28 lead but, it would’ve given Bryant possession of the ball for the final seconds. And, with Benton having been cited for just four team fouls to that point in the second half, as long as the Hornets could’ve taken care of the ball, they should’ve had a win.

But, as mentioned, that wasn’t the way it went.

Only the film of the game will tell — maybe.

Even with the timeout, the Hornets had committed just five team fouls to that point and, during the timeout, they were instructed by head coach Steve Wilson that they should use that foul to force the Panthers to take more time getting the ball into scoring range.

But they couldn’t get a hand on Caffrey.

The result nailed down second place in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Conference for the Panthers who finish 11-3 versus the league. They’ll be the division’s second seed at the post-season tournament that brings the North and South Divisions together starting Saturday, Feb. 13, at Sheridan.

Riley Hall knocked down the only 3-pointer of the game. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Bryant, which was going to probably be the fourth seed regardless because Little Rock Catholic, which came into the night tied with the Hornets for third, was beating up on Lake Hamilton. But a win would’ve left the three teams — Benton, Bryant and Lake Hamilton — tied for second behind champion North Little Rock.

The Hornets will open play in the conference tournament on Saturday at 10 a.m., against Morrilton, the No. 5 seed from the North. (The two teams met to open the season back in November with the Hornets forging a 47-34 win.)

Benton will open the tourney at 5:30 p.m., against the No. 7 seeded North team, Greenbrier.

The tournament will continue Monday and Wednesday with the championship game on Thursday.

“I was real proud of the way the kids pulled together,” stated Bryant coach Steve Wilson. “They played hard enough to win. I thought we did well enough to deserve to win. But some things are beyond our control.

“We hit a shot with eight seconds to go,” he continued. “I thought (Benton) would have a tough time scoring without any timeouts but I guess they had one I didn’t know about.

“Our record is 0-0 now,” Wilson emphasized, referring to the tournament. “Everybody’s record is 0-0. We’ve got a tough Morrilton team to play that’s very athletic. Then, maybe we’ll get a chance to avenge some of our losses this year.”

A win on Saturday would set up a rematch with North champion Conway White, which beat the Hornets, 60-52, before Christmas. If they could get past that one, they might get another shot at the Panthers on Wednesday with a berth in the finals on the line.

Bryant's Luke Rayburn looks for room to drive around Benton's Graham Gardner. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Thursday’s game was tight throughout and desperately contested at every turn. The largest lead of the game was Benton’s 4-point edge at the half, 17-13. The teams traded licks most of the first half. Bryant’s largest lead came at the 2:22 mark of the second quarter when, after Hall canned a 3 to put his team up 11-10, Leon Neale scored inside to make it 13-10.

But Benton finished the half on a 7-0 run sparked by point guard Rickey Gipson. Collin Simmons hit a free throw then 6-7 post man Graham Gardner beat the buzzer inside.

Bryant turned the tables at the start of the third quarter. Aaron Bell and Gardner traded baskets at the start but then Jalen Hewitt hit a running jumper and, after Scott Workman blocked a shot by Gipson, Bell sliced to the hoop for a bucket that tied it at 19.

Caffrey answered with his first first goal of the night, a layup off a Bryant turnover. But Zach Cambron scored with :03 left to make it 21-21 going into the fourth quarter.

Benton managed a 26-23 lead before a stickback by Neale trimmed the margin to 1. Bell made a steal but his layup was blocked by Caffrey. The Hornets, however, got an offensive rebound basket by Cambron at the 2:10 mark to take a 27-26 lead.

Benton needed a timeout with 1:53 left to prevent turning the ball over on a 10-second count in the backcourt and that, Bryant, by some accounts, was the Panthers’ fifth and final one.

When play resumed, Workman picked off a pass intended for Gardner inside but, at the other end, Bell, trying to drive and twist around a Benton defender, was called for a charge, fouling out of the game with a game-high 10 points.

Moments later, however, Benton turned the ball over and Bryant took a timeout with 1:06 left. With the lead, Wilson instructed his team to work the ball and use up the clock, particularly considering the few fouls that had been whistled against the Panthers.

But the Hornets took a pair of ill-advised shots and Benton got a chance to take the lead. With :22 to go, Zach Stuckey got free inside for a basket that put Benton in front 28-27.

Bryant called a timeout with :16.9 to go and Wilson set up the play that produced the go-ahead bucket by Hall with :08 to go that set the final scenario in motion.

The Hornets attempted just three free throws in the game, without making one. Benton was 6 of 11 from the line.


Score by quarters

BRYANT 6 7 8 8 — 29

Benton 7 10 4 9 — 30


Rayburn 0-1 0-0 0, Bell 5-11 0-0 10, Hewitt 1-3 0-0 2, J.Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Workman 0-0 0-3 0, Hall 3-8 0-0 7, Wilson 0-3 0-0 0, S.Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Neale 2-5 0-0 4, Cambron 3-5 0-0 6. Totals 14-37 0-3 29.


Torres 0-3 0-0 0, Gipson 2-6 0-0 4, Caffrey 2-9 3-5 7, Stuckey 4-5 0-0 8, Gardner 4-7 1-2 9, Simmons 0-2 2-4 2, Jamison 0-0 0-0 0, Magana 0-0 0-0 0, Foote 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-32 6-11 30

Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-9 (Hall 1-4, Wilson 0-3, Rayburn 0-1, Hewitt 0-1), Benton 0-8 (Caffrey 0-4, Torres 0-2, Gipson 0-2). Rebounds: Bryant 22 (Bell 5, Workman, Hall, Neale 3), Benton 26 (Stuckey, Gardner 9). Turnovers: Bryant 11, Benton 15. Team fouls: Bryant 13, Benton 11. Fouled out: Bryant, Bell.

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