The Bryant Hornets defeated their rival Benton Panthers 48-39 on Nov. 22 earlier this season at Benton arena. The Hornets’ win was the first over the Panthers since 2005, but tonight’s Saline County Shootout in Bryant may have a different result than the first meeting.
The Panthers (7-2) were without junior guards Quin Allen and Thaddeus Caffery due to injury in the first game. Since their return, the Panthers have gone 6-1, losing to a very good Cabot Panthers team, and Caffery has led the team in scoring.
For tonight’s game, Hornets’ forwards, senior Quinton Motto and junior Zach Cambron, are doubtful. Motto, 6-foot-7, scored 10 points and had 15 rebounds against Benton in the first meeting. Cambron had his best game of the year against the Panthers scoring 10 points.
“It’s going to be a different game,” Bryant Coach Mike Abrahamson said. “They were missing a couple guys last time that were key contributors for them. We could be missing two guys that are key contributors for us. It’s going to change the game.”
“Last game, both those young men did a good job against us,” Benton Coach Chris Nail said of Motto and Cambron. “It’s kind of funny how that works out. I watched [Bryant] play Tuesday night without those two and they looked really good against Lake Hamilton, so we’ll have to see how it goes.”
Though the Hornets (2-3) will probably be missing two post players against a big Panthers team, Abrahamson the game will come down to execution.
“Players have to go make plays,” he said. “Players have to execute and that is what it will come down to.
“We’re going to do everything we can to win the game,” Abrahamson continued. “Of course we’d like to have [Motto], but you can’t do anything about injuries. He really wants to play. Him and Cambron both.”
Nail said the game will be a lot of fun for his players and that the Panthers’ defensive key is to stop the Hornets’ guard penetration. Benton’s size advantage will also be a factor.
“I thought last time we did a really good job of utilizing our inside play,” Nail said. “The strength of our team this year should be from the paint in. The big key [tonight] is establishing that paint.”
The Bryant Lady Hornets were also victorious in their first meeting against the Benton Lady Panthers, winning 42-36 on Nov. 22 at Benton Arena.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Bryant, but we felt like we beat ourselves in the last game,” Lady Panthers Coach Jerry Chumley said. “We had a lot of turnovers – they caused a lot of them – but we didn’t play very well.”
Junior guards Kiara Moore and Logan Davis led the Lady Hornets (6-4) with 13 points apiece and sophomore forward Taneasha Rhode added 10.
For the Panthers (6-4), junior forward Kori Parker led the team with 13 points and senior forward Bailey Gately had 10.
“We didn’t shoot our free throws very well and we’re looking forward to getting back over there and playing better basketball against them,” Chumley said. “They’re very good, very well-coached and we want to go over there and do what we’ve been doing lately and that’s taking care of the basketball and see what happens.”
Lady Hornets Coach Brad Matthews mentioned the importance of tonight’s meeting.
“It’s a big game,” Matthews said. “A big game for our school, a big game for our community and a big game for our program. Benton is really talented. They have some kids that are really great players. Coach Chumley does a great job. It will be a great environment for high school basketball and we look forward to the challenge.”
The Lady Panthers and Lady Hornets will kick off the Saline County Shootout tonight at 6 p.m. at Bryant High School. The boys will follow.