Hornets win big to kick off classic

The Bryant Hornets used a 27-0 run to rout the North Pulaski Falcons 67-24 on Tuesday in the opening game of the Red Devil Classic at Jacksonville High School. The Hornets also hit 61 percent of their shots and held the Falcons to just 31 percent shooting.

The Hornets (4-3) already had a good-sized lead when they went on the 27-0 run. After an offensive rebound and put back by North Pulaski to make it a 38-22 Bryant lead, the Hornets started their run with 4:25 left in the third quarter on a Quinton Motto layup assisted by senior Jordan Griffin and ended it when sophomore Brian Reed hit 1 of 2 free throws with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter to make it 65-22.

The Hornets didn’t start the game looking like they were on the way to a blowout win. After sophomore Leon Neale put Bryant up 2-0 with a layup, the Falcons went on a 6-0 run to make it 6-2 North Pulaski with 3:45 left in the first quarter.

Motto, a senior, assisted Griffin on a 3-pointer to start a 9-0 run for the Hornets, capped by Motto’s 12-foot jump shot from the baseline to make it an 11-6 Hornets’ lead with 1:06 left in the opening quarter. The Hornets led 13-9 after the first.

The Falcons got an offensive rebound and layup to start the second quarter, but the Hornets went on a 7-1 run capped by a 3-pointer from junior guard Strodney Davis to extend their lead to 20-12 with 3:34 left in the half. The Falcons cut it to 22-17 with 1:27 left in the half after Arren Scruggs hit a 3-pointer for North Pulaski, but the Hornets ended the half on a 7-0 run when senior guard Brantley Cozart and Davis hit consecutive 3-pointers, and Griffin hit 1 of 2 free throws to give Bryant a 29-17 halftime lead.

The Hornets played 10 players in the first half and Bryant Coach Mike Abrahamson said that depth is a plus for his team.

“If so and so is not getting it done, let’s go to somebody else, Abrahamson said. “It’s not that much of a perceived drop off. We have some players that have worked really hard to get better and stronger. I do think our depth is an asset.”

Griffin scored eight points in the first half, followed by six from Davis, five by Cozart and four points and four rebounds from Motto.
North Pulaski hit a 3-pointer to open the second half and get within nine points, but Griffin got an offensive rebound and layup to start a 9-0 run to make it 38-20 with 4:59 left in the third. Griffin led the Hornets with 16 points and added two assists.

For the second consecutive game for the Hornets, sophomore Anthony Black scored the first three buckets of the fourth quarter to get Bryant going. Black scored the first three field goals of the fourth quarter in a win against the Benton Panthers in the Saline County Shootout on Friday.

“Actually, the first play of the fourth quarter was drawn up for [Zach] Cambron,” Abrahamson said. “It just didn’t work out that way. Anthony is a great kid. He’s a competitor. He plays with a chip on his shoulder because he’s smaller.

“That’s just the type of guy he is. You have to tell him to calm down and I love that about him. You have to back him off. You don’t ever have to get him going. I love that.”

After a rough tournament in Russellville a week and a half ago where the Hornets lost three games, Abrahamson said his team learned a lot from the experience.

“We had a few issues in Russellville where some things didn’t go our way and it brought out some temporary character flaws,” he said. “We tried to correct those first and foremost and I think that’s it. When we didn’t have Quinton and Zach at Lake Hamilton [due to injury], we turned a corner where other guys had to step up. When we got them back, we were even better.”

After shooting 47 percent in the first half, the Hornets shot 74 percent in the second half, while holding the Falcons to 20 percent shooting in the second half. Bryant outrebounded North Pulaski 25 to 11 and were 18 of 24 (9-12 in each half) from the free-throw line to the Falcons 5 of 12. Bryant shot 5 of 6 from the 3-point arc. The Falcons had 24 turnovers, many of those self-inflicted, and the Hornets had 12 turnovers for the game, with just two in the second half.

“We try to stay under 10, so we just missed that goal,” Abrahamson said of the turnovers. “Their shooting percentage, we’re happy about that. That’s something we pay attention to. That’s a stat we look at at halftime. Our defense was solid throughout I thought, with the exception of a few silly fouls early in the game.”

Davis scored 10 points and was 2 of 2 from the 3-point arc and Motto added 10 points and pulled down five rebounds. Black scored eight points, six in the fourth quarter, and recorded three rebounds. Cozart, who picked up his second foul 35 seconds into the game, scored seven points and had three steals in limited action.

“We haven’t peaked yet,” Abrahamson said. “We still made mistakes. We didn’t have a great first quarter. We still have things to get better at, but I’m happy we won four in a row. It beats losing four in a row.”

The Hornets resume the Red Devil Classic today when they play the Jacksonville Red Devils, which beat Little Rock Catholic 67-40 on Tuesday, at 5:30 p.m.