By Rob Patrick
CONWAY — When the Bryant Hornets freshman team played the Conway White Wampus Kittens for the[more] championship of the Bryant Invitational Tournament on Nov. 17, the game was tied with about a minute to play and the Hornets put together a late push to win 36-31.
On Thursday, the two teams met again at Buzz Bolding Arena, the game was tied at 27 with 3:32 left to play. A 15-foot jumper by Bryant’s Brandan Warner knotted the game but, this time, the Hornets were unable to score again until the final seconds as the Kittens finished with a flurry for a 33-29 victory.
The loss ended Bryant’s five-game win streak.
The Hornets host Cabot South on Monday, Dec. 5.
The Hornets and the Wampus Kittens meet again in Central Arkansas Junior High Conference play at Bryant on Jan. 23.
A key play followed Warner’s bucket. With 3:18 to go, Conway’s Kenny King was at the free-throw line. He missed both shots but the long rebound off the second was tracked down by Jevante Ellis for the Kittens. Adrian Moore hit a driving jumper to snap the tie with 3:09 to go.
Bryant missed a couple of opportunities to pull even again with Conway jumping into a box-and-one defense to try to slow down the Hornets’ K.J. Hill, who scored 17 of the team’s 29 points.
Conway got the ball inside to big Colton Jackson for back-to-back buckets around a Bryant miss and it was 33-27 with 1:35 left to play.
But the Hornets just couldn’t get a shot to fall and, with just three team fouls, had to start fouling to get Conway White to the free-throw line. When the Kittens finally did get to the bonus, they obliged by missing the front end twice.
Bryant, however, turned it over on consecutive possessions and, in the late going, Conway, with just three team fouls, used its fouls to eat time, forcing the Hornets to inbounds the ball twice in the last 10 seconds. Hill finally got a shot to go but just :02 remained on the clock.
Jackson led Conway White with 10 points. Moore had 8 and Ellis 5.
Along with Hill’s 17, Bryant got 6 from J.C. Newborn, 4 from Ryan Hall and 2 from Warner.
With both teams playing mostly zone defense, it was a deliberate pace. Neither team was able to bust the zone from 3-point range, through they tried. They combined to go 1-for-22 from beyond the arc, with Hill accounting for the lone make among 15 attempts by the Hornets.
The Kittens jumped out to a 6-0 lead but Bryant rallied for a 9-8 lead early in the second quarter. Hill started the rally with a 15-footer with 3:02 left in the opening period. Newborn hit a jumper in the lane over Jackson and, after a basket by the Conway post man off a lob, Newborn dished to Hall for a basket to make it 8-6 going into the second quarter.
Hill started the new stanza with a three-point play to give Bryant the lead.
The half ended with the teams tied at 15.
Jackson snapped a 17-17 tie midway through the third quarter with an offensive-rebound basket and it stayed 19-17 for two minutes before Hill canned the game’s lone 3 at the 1:54 mark to give his team the lead.
Chase Longing’s jumper in the lane put Conway back up only to have Hill drive the baseline and hit a floater over Jackson with :37 left.
Moments later, Conway misfired. The ball headed out of bounds under the Kittens’ basket and Moore leapt to try to save it. He scooped it back to Jackson who scored to put the Kittens back on top.
Bryant coach Jim Pennington protested, asserting that the ball was out of bounds. The official, with a quick trigger, hit the coach with a pair of technical fouls forcing him to head to the locker room.
Given four free throws with :16.1 left in the third quarter, Conway was only able to convert once, making it 24-22. The Hornets prevented them from scoring on the subsequent possession and the game went to the fourth quarter.
John Winn made a steal for Bryant that led to another three-point play by Hill that produced a 25-24 lead for the Hornets. The game was subsequently tied at 25 and 27 before the Kittens gained the upper hand for good.
WAMPUS KITTENS 33, HORNETS 29
Score by quarters
BRYANT 6 9 7 7 — 29
Conway White 8 7 9 9 — 33
Winn 0-5 0-0 0, Hill 7-10 2-2 17, Warner 1-8 0-0 2, Newborn 3-8 0-0 6, Hall 1-2 2-2 4, Withers 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 12-36 4-4 29.
WAMPUS KITTENS 33
Johnson 1-4 0-1 2, Moore 3-9 2-5 8, Jackson 5-6 0-0 10, Ellis 2-8 1-3 5, King 2-2 0-2 4, Starr 0-0 0-0 0, Longing 2-3 0-0 4, Garlington 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-32 3-11 33.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-15 (Hill 1-2, Warner 0-7, Winn 0-5, Withers 0-1), Conway White 0-7 (Ellis 0-5, Moore 0-1, Longing 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 15 (Hall, Hill 4), Conway White 27 (Moore, Jackson, Ellis, King 5). Turnovers: Bryant 10, Conway White 13. Team fouls: Bryant 13, Conway White 11.