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Hornets upend Charging Wildcats

February 22, 2012

Senior Quinten Motto, 34, jumps at tip-off in the Hornets 45-38 win over the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats on Tuesday. The win puts the Hornets in position for a No. 2 seed in the state tournament. Grace Finley/Special to the Courier

BRYANT – The Bryant Hornets picked up a huge 45-38 victory on over the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats on Tuesday night in 7A/6A Central conference action in Bryant. Both teams are 8-5 in the Central and since Bryant beat North Little Rock by seven points and the Charging Wildcats won by five points, 53-48, earlier in the year, the Hornets have the tie-breaker.

“We haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here and nobody on our team has beaten them in a varsity game, so a big win for us,” Bryant Coach Mike Abrahamson said. “It wasn’t the prettiest thing, but I felt like we grinded it out. I’m proud of them.”

Both teams combined for just 21 turnovers, with Bryant committing nine, but the Hornets (16-9, 8-5 7A Central) and the Wildcats (17-8, 8-5) each shot 33 percent from the field.

Senior Jordan Griffin took a pass from senior Logan Trudell and nailed a 3-pointer to get Senior Night started. It was back-and-forth after that as the teams took an 8-8 game into the second quarter.

After missing his first three shots, senior Brantley Cozart set his feet and hit a 3-pointer assisted by Griffin to put the Hornets up 12-8 with 6:34 left until halftime. Sophomore Marcus Wilson hit a 3-pointer at the 5:24 mark to end a 7-0 Bryant run and a 15-8 lead. Cozart took a pass from sophomore Anthony Black and hit another 3-pointer to put the Hornets up 18-10 and Black continued the 3-point barrage when he got a pass from Griffin, hitting one from behind the arc going into the half leading 21-14.

All six of the Hornets field goals in the first half were 3-pointers, along with 3 for 4 from the foul line.

“I had a hunch they would play a 2-3 zone because of the last time we played them,” Abrahamson said of the Wildcats’ defense against the Hornets. “They had a starter dismissed, and then tonight they had a starter suspended. I did think if we got open shots, since it was our own gym, we would have shot it a little bit better, but I think we had a lot of emotions built up because of Senior Night.”

The second half didn’t start off so hot for the Hornets as North Little Rock started it on a 6-0 run in the first 1:18 to make it 21-20. Cozart stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer assisted by Griffin, and Griffin took a pass from Black for a layup to push the lead to six, 26-20. The Wilcats would get within one, 28-27, after two free throws, but Black hit two free throws and junior forward Zach Cambron made a layup assisted by Cozart to take a 32-27 lead going into the fourth.

The Wildcats got within 35-34 after a 12-foot jumper with 3:56 left in the game, but senior 6-7 post player Quinten Motto got an offensive rebound and put back at the 2:41 mark and the Hornets hit 10 of their last 12 free throws to seal victory.

“They’ve learned how to be winners,” Abrahamson said. “We’ve been in situations a lot of times the last two years where we played just good enough to lose. And certainly against North Little Rock, we’ve done that the other three times we played them. We’re just trying to get over these mental humps.”

Griffin led the Hornets with 14 points, adding five rebounds and three assists. Black had 12 points, five steals and two assists, Cozart had 11 points and three assists, and Motto had eight rebounds and just two points, but the points came at an opportune time.

“We talk a lot about how you respond to adversity, because quite frankly, my No. 1 job, I feel like, is teaching these guys on how to become men,” Abrahamson said. “Stuff is going to happen to you your whole life and it’s all about how you respond.”

The Hornets finish the regular season on Friday in Little Rock when they go to Central High School. If the Hornets win, they will secure a No. 2 seed in the state tournament.

Lady Hornets
The Bryant Lady Hornets put up a valiant effort on Tuesday night, but the No. 4 team in the state, the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats, took a 57-50 win on Senior Night in Bryant.

It looked as if the Lady Wildcats were on their way to a blowout – they beat the Lady Hornets 54-15 their previous meeting – when they started the game on a 6-0 run capped by a Lexus Williams offensive rebound and put back with 6:05 left in the opening quarter. But, the lady Hornets went on a 14-0 run, scoring the last 12 points of the quarter capped by junior Kiara Moore’s reverse, turnaround layup.

Leading 14-6 with 7:19 left in the half, the fun would end for the Lady Hornets. North Little Rock went on a 7-0 run, which turned into a 20-2 run to take a 26-16 lead over Bryant with 2:17 left.

“They got us in transition some and got us on the offensive boards,” Bryant Coach Brad Matthews said .”No. 32 (Williams) is tough for us to guard. That one little spurt when we went from four up to 10 down; for the most part, that was the only spurt they had. I thought our kids really competed hard, played well.”

The Lady Hornets would hang on to a 31-23 deficit at halftime, but the Lady Wildcats would take a 49-34 lead going into the fourth.

Bryant fought back in the fourth, getting within 53-45 after a Moore 3-pointer with 2:08 left in the game. Sophomore Dezarea Duckworth got the Lady Hornets within 55-50 after two free throws with 22.7 seconds left, but too little time and the run in the second quarter ended up being the Lady Hornets’ demise.

“Tonight, we probably came as close as we have all year to playing to the scouting report,” Matthews said. “[Williams] is just so hard on the boards and they do a good job of getting to her in there. I thought we gave them some stuff in transition, but other than that, I think they earned a lot of stuff tonight.”

Moore led the Lady Hornets with 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Duckworth added nine points, three rebounds and two steals, and junior Courtney Davidson had eight points and six rebounds.

Williams (committed to Southern Methodist) had 18 points and eight rebounds for North Little Rock, Sandy Jackson (committed to Arkansas State) had 15 points, four rebounds and two steals, and Xena King (committed to Arkansas State) had just two points thanks to strong defense from Lady Hornet junior Logan Davis.

“When you have three Division I players, that’s a hard matchup for anyone in the state,” Matthews said. “They’ll be a tough out state tournament week. They’re so athletic and so strong that we gave up that one spurt.

“I’m just so proud of our kids’ effort. We got down and cut it back there in the fourth quarter.”

The Lady Hornets play Central in Little Rock on Friday and are looking to be a No. 4 or 5 seed in the state tournament in Cabot.

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