FORT SMITH — With 3:55 left to play, the Bryant Hornets held a 30-22 lead over the Little Rock Hall Warriors in the championship game of the annual Coke Classic at the Stubblefield Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.
The Hornets had led from the outset and, after the Warriors had cut it to 22-20 early in the third, Bryant surged behind 7 consecutive points by Deron Canada to build that lead.
But it was about then that Hall extended its defense to a three-quarter court trap and it took the Hornets some time to solve it. The Warriors went on a quick 12-0 run to end the quarter to take a 34-30 lead.
Though Bryant battled and was within 2 at the 4:03 mark and down just 3 with one minute left, Hall, sparked by Gregory Johnson who scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, held on for a 49-42 victory and the championship of the Classic.
The Hornets, never using more than six or seven players, may have run out of gas with their third game in as many days — all of them tight. Canada finished with a game-high 18 and Khalen Robinson added 15. Sam Chumley scored 6.
For their efforts in the tournament, Robinson and Canada were named to the all-tournament team.
The loss dropped Bryant to 9-4 on the season going into conference play. The Hornets open the league slate on Friday, Jan. 5, at Fort Smith Northside, which finished third in the tournament after losing to Hall, 72-71, in the semifinals despite 45 points from senior guard Isaiah Joe.
To start the fourth quarter, Robinson made a nice back-door move and got a pass from freshman point guard Camren Hunter for a three-point play. The Hornets were within 34-33.
But Hall’s Montavious Dismuke hit a 3 in response.
After a Warrior timeout, Robinson canned a 12-footer to trim the margin to 37-35.
But the Hornets didn’t score again until Hall had pushed the lead to 41-35. Robinson knocked down a pair of free throws and, after a Warrior turnover, Chumley fed Canada for a layup to make it 41-39 with 4:03 to go.
Johnson missed a 3 so the Hornets had a chance to tie or take the lead after Chumley secured the rebound. A turnover, however, cost them and Johnson scored inside.
The Warriors backed into their halfcourt defense at that point. After a Bryant miss, they spread the floor and started to chew up clock. With 2:37 to go, Kevon Cooper got behind the Bryant zone trap for a dunk to make it 45-39.
Hunter missed a 3 but, in the trap, the Hornets forced a turnover. Canada drained a triple to get them within 45-42. And when Jonathan Coleman missed a jumper, Canada rebounded. At the other end, Rodney Lambert was fouled but came up empty at the free-throw line with 1:20 to go.
Johnson drove for a basket to make it 47-42. Hunter misfired on a 3-point try and, on the rebound, a held ball was ruled. Hall gained possession but Cooper’s shot was blocked by Catrell Wallace and the Warriors turned it over again.
Canada couldn’t get a 3 to drop and, with :13.3 to go, Xavier Madison hit both ends of a one-and-one to secure the victory.
Canada started the scoring in the game with a 3. Lambert hit a free throw and, after two freebies by Coleman for Hall, Chumley followed his own miss to make it 6-2.
The Warriors cut it to 8-7 but Canada scored off an inbounds play and, after a Warrior’s miss, Wallace scored inside. He then blocked a shot by Cooper but the Hornets turned it over. Johnson made it 12-9 but Robinson drove for a basket to make it 14-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Hall trimmed it to 14-13 and had a chance to take the lead but the Hornets frustrated the Warriors by absorbing four charges in the final five minutes of the half. Wallace, Chumley and Canada took the last three and only Cooper’s 3, which had Hall within 17-16 interrupted Bryant’s 8-0 run. Chumley followed Cooper’s triple with one of his own then Robinson made a steal and a layup to bump the margin to 22-16.
Bryant had a chance at the last shot but turned it over and Hall’s Michael Peterson hit a layup to make it a 4-point halftime lead.
Johnson opened the second half with a dunk to make it a two-point lead and the Warriors had three chances to tie or take the lead but came up empty. Canada drained a 3 and, after Coleman scored off the offensive glass, Robinson fed Canada for another trey. Johnson missed and, off a Chumley rebound, Canada drove for a basket to make it 30-22.
Madison scored and the Warriors jumped into their pressure defense and forced turnovers on five consecutive Bryant possessions, cashing in the first four to build the 34-30 lead.
2017 COKE CLASSIC
Hosted by Northside High School
UAFS Stubblefield Center, Fort Smith
Thursday, Dec. 28
Game 1 — Little Rock Hall def. El Dorado
Game 2 — Bryant 63, Jacksonville 61, OT
Game 3 — FS Northside 68, Pulaski Robinson 52
Game 4 — Charleston 65, FS Southside 55
Friday, Dec. 29
Game 5 — El Dorado 80, Pulaski Robinson 53
Game 6 — Jacksonville 56, FS Southside 51
Game 7 — Bryant 65, Charleston 60
Game 8 — LR Hall 72, FS Northside 71
Saturday, Dec. 30
Game 9 — Fort Smith Southside 62, Pulaski Robinson 57
Game 10 — Jacksonville def. El Dorado
Game 11 — Fort Smith Northside 70, Charleston 41
Game 12 — Little Rock Hall 49, Bryant 42