BENTONVILLE — For the second game in as many days at the Crabtree Invitational Classic, the Bryant Hornets pumped in eight 3-pointers to loosen up a tough zone defense on the way to victory. With four players in double figures, the Hornets overwhelmed a pesky Clarksville Panthers team, 74-53.
The Hornets wrap up the event Saturday morning at 8 a.m., against the Wynne Yellowjackets who lost to Clarksville on Thursday but beat host Bentonville on Friday. The game is scheduled early so the team can join their classmates in Little Rock for the Class 5A State football championship game against Pulaski Academy later in the day.
Bryant got out to a 9-0 start in the game but, after a timeout, Clarksville settled down and it became a high-scoring first quarter. The Hornets held a 23-18 edge going into the second period. It was 40-28 at the half, however, as the Hornets continued to add to their lead. By the end of the third quarter, Bryant was in control with a 59-40 advantage.
“We really started off hot,” acknowledged Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson. “They were really hard to guard, though. We guarded them well at the very start of the game. They called a timeout and the rest of the game, we just kind of guarded them well when we could. Other times, they were able to get good shots.
“They shoot a lot of 3’s,” he related. “They’re not very big but they’re very skilled. They had a kid named Juan Hernandez who had 19 points. He was really hard to guard. He drove to the basket really well, got fouled and hit a lot of free throws. He was tough to handle.
“We just stayed man to man,” the coach said. “We didn’t really change anything. We’re trying to work on it. And it was a challenge for our guys to defend them.”
Likewise, however, Clarksville struggled to defend the Hornets. Braylen Steen and Christian McIntosh each finished with 16 points to lead Bryant. McIntosh hit four 3’s including three in the fourth quarter to help maintain the lead.
Calvin Allen added 11 and Sam Chumley 10. Lowell Washington pitched in with 7 while Romen Martin and Kaleb Turner scored 6 each. Rodney Lambert had a basket as well.
“We scored a lot,” Abrahamson said. “We shot it well, scored it well.
“Size was an issue but (Clarksville) does a good job of not letting you get it inside,” he noted. “And we did some. I would’ve liked to kick it in more but they did a really good job of swarming.
“They switch up their zones. They mostly used a 1-3-1 against us. They really do a good job of just kind of swarming on a pass so we had a lot of in-and-out action. We were able to hit those 3’s or, if we didn’t take that 3, if we got it in and kicked it out when they closed out, we were able to drive off that.
“Our guys really played well offensively, shared the ball, moved the ball and we were very aggressive. Our guys really competed too. It was good for us.”