Hornets respond to Hot Springs comeback, nail down win
CONWAY — With four of their five starters on the bench with two fouls, the Bryant Hornets lineup of seniors Cedarrian Crosby (the lone starter not in foul trouble) and Caleb Strain, junior Ketrick Wilson and freshmen Desmond Duckworth and Romen Martin (with help from Wesley Peters not only maintained but actually increased the lead midway through the second quarter.
It was 35-19 before the Hot Springs Trojans switched to a trapping 1-3-1 zone. The Hornets struggled and the lead dwindled to 35-30 by halftime.
Then, even with the starters back in the third quarter, the Trojans rallied to eventually tie the game 45-45 with :55.8. The scoreboard, however, showed that Hot Springs had taken a lead, 46-45. With the Hornets clinging to a 45-44 lead, the Trojans’ Kennedy Corder missed the first of two free throws and made the second. But he was credited with knocking down both shots.
Hot Springs had two shots at changing that score but in the final 10 seconds of the quarter, Bryant seniors Grayson Giles and C.J. Rainey came through. Giles canned a jumper in traffic as he was fouled with :07.8 showing. He missed the free throw but seconds later Rainey was fouled on a drive to the hoop and converted twice to make it 49-46 going into the fourth quarter.
That 4-0 spurt expanded to a 10-1 surge when Rainey fed Crosby for a basket and Kevin Hunt assisted on a 12-foot jumper by Strain. After a free throw by Hot Springs’ Ja’Quan Counts, Strain added a pair from the line to make it 55-47.
Bryant went on to earn a 64-59 victory to advance to the consolation finals of the Bank of the Ozarks John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational.