Hornets’ bad second half ends with loss

Up by five points at the half, the Bryant Hornets shot 22 percent in the second half and fell 43-41 to the Little Rock Central Tigers in the last regular-season game of the year at Central Fieldhouse on Friday. Since North Little Rock defeated Van Buren, the Hornets will have the No. 3 seed going into the 7A State Tournament in Cabot next week.

After two free throws by Central’s Kerry Young and long 3-pointer from Kyle Nelson, the Tigers took a 39-33 lead with 6:57 left in the game.

The Hornets took a hard foul from a Central player two minutes later and the officials ended up giving technical fouls out that resulted in Bryant senior guard Jordan Griffin hitting 4 of 4 from the free-throw line to get within 39-37 at the 4:19 mark. Griffin took pass from senior post player Quinten Motto for a layup to tie it, and after no team could score the next three minutes, Central took a timeout with the ball.

Griffin stole the inbounds pass out of the timeout and the turnover resulted in senior Brantley Cozart driving to the basket with a behind-the-back dribble and a driving lay in to put the Hornets up 41-39 with 56 seconds remaining.

Young tied it at 41 apiece with two free throws at the 39.7-second mark and the Hornets ran the clock down to get the last shot, but the Tigers’ pressure got to Bryant and sophomore Anthony Black turned it over with 11.5 seconds left. Central took a timeout and Young got a pass down low and put it in the basket with two seconds left to make it a 43-41 Cenral lead. The Hornets’ last-second attempt was no good.

It looked as if the Hornets would continue their 5-2 run to end the first half into the second half when Cozart and Griffin trapped the Tigers at the half-court line to start the third quarter and picked up a steal. Griffin threw it ahead to Black, who gave it back to Griffin for a 3-pointer and a 30-22 lead with 7:44 to go in the third quarter.

The wheels fell off for the Hornets after that as the Tigers went on a 10-0 run capped by Nelson’s 3-pointer to take a two-point lead with 2:13 left to go in the quarter. Griffin took a pass from Motto and countered with a 3-pointer to put the Hornets back on top at 33-32, but a Tiger got an offensive rebound and layup at the buzzer to take a one-point lead going into the fourth.

It was a back-and-forth game in the first quarter with the Hornets outscoring the Tigers 18-16 with Motto scoring 10 points and finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds and two assists for the game.

Griffin led the Hornets with 14 points and Cozart added 10 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists. Cozart had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in the first half.

For the Tigers, Nelson scored 17 points on 4 of 7 3-pointers and Young had 12 points including the game-winner.

The Hornets will play on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. as the No. 3 seed and will play the West conference’s No. 6 seed in the state tournament held at Cabot High School. The Lady Hornets play after the boys at 7 p.m.