The Bryant Hornets used a great start and a strong finish to outlast the Little Rock Catholic Rockets, earning a 69-50 road win Tuesday in Little Rock.
With the victory, Coach Mike Abrahamson’s squad is now 13-9 overall and 5-4 in the 6A Central, winning their second straight after losing three in a row.
“This wasn’t our prettiest performance – but we had phenomenal effort the whole game,” Abrahamson said. “As (Catholic) was hitting threes to stay in the game, nobody on my team panicked. We stayed the course.”
The Rockets never led in this contest as Bryant jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Catholic finally scored its first points of the game with just over a minute left in the first quarter when Ben Biernat made two free throws. At the end of the quarter, the Hornets led 13-2.
However, the Rockets did not wilt. In the second quarter Catholic bounced back nicely.
“During the second, they kept us out of the lane better. We knew they weren’t going to go away,” Abrahamson said. “They’re tough kids. They’re well-coached and they play well at home.”
Catholic performed better in the latter stages of the first half due also to it better handling the Hornet pressure. Late in the second quarter, the Hornet lead dwindled to as low as six. But Bryant’s Camren Hunter scored six points in the quarter while Treylon Payne had five. The two guards helped the Hornets maintain their lead as the Bryant led 28-18 at the intermission.
In the third, Bryant stuck with its game plan and continued to pressure the Rockets.
“We had to speed them up,” Abrahamson stated.
However, early in the second half Catholic got hot – especially from beyond the arc. Bryant’s aggressive defense forced Catholic to take some tough shots. But the Rockets still made four 3-pointers in the quarter. The Rockets (7-14, 1-8) cut the Bryant lead to four twice in the quarter but could get no closer.
“They shot the ball well, and that kept them in it,” Abrahamson said.
The Hornets responded to Catholic’s run by ending the third on a 10-3 run of their own to carry a 45-34 lead into the final quarter. A key to Bryant’s spurt was it started turning the Rockets over once again, similar to how it did at the start of the game.
In the fourth, Bryant dominated on its way to a second consecutive league win. Abrahamson loved how the Hornets remained calm against a Catholic squad that refused to quit.
“My guys knew we had a plan,” he said. “Also, you could see signs during play stoppages that our conditioning and athletic ability was starting to be a major factor against Catholic in this game.”
Payne was the game-high scorer with 24 points as Hunter had 14, and Will Diggins scored 11.
For the Rockets, Warren Heird scored 13 and Brian Flanagam finished with eight.
The Hornets at back at it on Friday, hosting the Central Tigers at Hornet Arena in more 6A Central Conference play.