Hornets cruise, ladies lose

BRYANT – The Bryant Lady Hornets fell to the Van Buren Lady Pointers 58-54 on Tuesday night in 7A/6A Central conference action in Bryant.
“Van Buren is a good team,” Bryant Coach Brad Matthews said. “They were well-prepared. They did stuff to us defensively that we haven’t seen all year.”

“We never really got into a flow offensively, but our kids continued to compete. We didn’t play very well, but such is life in the 7A Central and we got beat. They have four or five kids that they can put on the floor that can score.”

Matthews said the Lady Pointers sagged their players inside and congested the passing lanes not to allow the Lady Hornets’ post players to receive the ball.

The Lady Hornets (13-10, 5-4 7A Central) trailed 13-8 after the first quarter, but got within one point, 19-18, when junior Logan Davis hit a 5-foot baseline jump shot with 3:12 left in the half. The Lady Pointers outscored Bryant 6-2 the rest of the half to lead 25-20 at halftime.

“Our defensive execution was not very good in the first half,” Matthews said. “That’s where they got us. Our lack of execution in the first half, defensively, we have to do a better job of playing on this side of the floor.”

Trailing 33-24 with 4:18 remaining in the third quarter, the Lady Hornets went on an 8-0 run, with sophomore Taneasha Rhode contributing four points, to make it a 33-32 Lady Pointers’ lead. Van Buren, though, would finish the quarter on a 8-1 run of their own to lead 41-33 going into the fourth quarter.

Bryant opened the final quarter on a 6-0 run started by sophomore Dezarea Duckworth’s layup and capped by Rhode’s two free throws to trail 41-39 with 6:21 left. Duckworth scored a reverse layup to make it a 43-41Lady Hornets’ deficit, but Tara Alexander hit a 3-pointer on Van Buren’s next possession and Paige Beckner hit a 7-foot jumper to push the Lady Pointer lead to 48-41 with just over five minutes to play.

Two free throws from Rhode made it 48-44 with 4:33 left, but Van Buren hit their free throws down the stretch to hold the Lady Hornets off. The Lady Pointers hit 22 of 28 free throws for the game compared to 19 of 30 for Bryant.

“We knew going in they were a really good free-throw shooting team,” Matthews said. “You can’t foul Van Buren.

“They’re a senior-laden team and those girls have played in the 7A/6A conference for two or three years now. They’ve been through the wars and they have skilled players over there. They’re one of the two or three best teams in 6A. They have a chance to win the 6A state championship. When you play teams like that, you have to execute and we did not execute very well in the first half, especially defensively.”

Davis led the Lady Hornets with 17 points, hitting 3 of 6 from the 3-point line. Rhode and Duckworth followed with 13 apiece and Rhode also added 16 rebounds and four blocks.

“I thought our kids continued to fight, continued to play hard,” Matthews said. “We just could never get momentum enough to get over the hump.”

The Bryant Hornets cruised to a 57-40 victory over the Van Buren Pointers on Tuesday night in 7A/6A Central conference play in Bryant.

After the Pointers scored a layup to make it a 4-3 Bryant lead, the Hornets went on a 10-0 run when senior Jordan Griffin hit a 10-foot jumper, senior Brantley Cozart hit a 3-pointer with an assist from Griffin, and sophomore Anthony Black finished the run off with a bucket and a wide-open 3-pointer to make it 14-3 with 3:06 left in the opening quarter. The Pointers would come back and make it 14-12 going into the second quarter.

Cozart opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer assisted by Griffin to take a five-point lead, but the Pointers would stay around making it 22-20 after a layup with 2:14 left. The Hornets (13-8, 5-4 7A Central) finished the half on a 7-0 run capped by Quinten Motto’s layup from Cozart to give Bryant a 29-20 halftime lead.

“Offensively, I thought we were shooting with confidence,” Bryant Coach Mike Abrahamson said. “We didn’t get off to a torrid start like we have in some of our home games. Our ball handlers did a really good job throughout the course of the game.”

The Pointers may have stayed around with the Hornets in the first half, but the second half was a different story. Motto got a pass from Black for a bucket to make it 31-20 early in the third and Bryant just kept piling on. Cozart got a pass from sophomore Marcus Wilson and hit a 3-pointer to make it 36-22 with 4;53 left in the quarter and ended up leading 41-30 going into the fourth where it was all Hornets.

Bryant started the final quarter on a 12-0 run to get up 53-30 with 2:45 left before the Pointers made a small comeback to make the Hornets’ margin of victory closer.

Cozart led the Hornets with 16 points, hitting 4 of 6 from the 3-point arc, and added six rebounds and two assists. Griffin had a solid all-around game and finished with eight points, six assists and four rebounds, while playing good defense on Van Buren’s best player Deven Goodwin.

“In the second half, I thought Jordan Griffin did a much better job of containing their No. 3 [Goodwin],” Abrahamson said. “He was probably on him too much in the first half. We told him to give him some space and make sure he kept him in front of him and he made a really nice adjustment.”

Motto had 10 points, seven rebounds and eight blocks.

“He was big,” Abrahamson said of Motto. “He did a great job of being big on the defensive end by blocking shots and “walling” up, and going up and getting rebounds and trying to make people score over him. And then on offense, getting the ball and keeping it up high, going up over the smaller Van Buren defenders. I was really happy to see that. We talked to him about being big on both ends of the court and he did that [Tuesday night].”

The Hornets shot 61 percent from the floor in the second half and finished shooting 51 percent for the game, while holding the Pointers to 32 percent shooting. Bryant committed just nine turnovers Tuesday night after committing 20 against the Pointers in their first matchup, a 51-47 loss in Van Buren. The Hornets also had 12 assists for Tuesday’s game.

“I like the way were moving the ball,” Abrahamson said. “When we’re playing well, we are up in the 12 to 15 assist range.”