The Bryant Hornets had a very successful season a year ago when theymade it to the semifinals of the 7A state tournament and lost to a loaded Little Rock Hall team which won the state title. With a semifinal appearance, one would expect high expectation the next year, but the Hornets have a totally different team this year.
With the graduation of five instrumental players, itâ€™s understandable for a team to have to adjust, but when five more players which also contributed greatly are no longer with the team, inexperience raises its ugly head. Couple inexperience with a small team, and youâ€™re looking at a tough start of the season.
â€śWe lost 10 guys from last yearâ€™s team,â€ť Bryant Coach Mike Abrahamson said. â€śFive seniors, four moved, and Marcus Wilson quit to focus on baseball. Heâ€™s got a future in that.
â€śWeâ€™re inexperienced, weâ€™re young, weâ€™re small, but hopefully weâ€™ll scrap.â€ť
Not only are the Hornets young and inexperienced, they donâ€™t have one returning starter, with just four players seeing limited time off the bench last season, who will be looked to contribute heavily this year. Seniors Strodney Davis and Zach Cambron, and juniors CJ Rainey and Greyson Giles all saw action last season, but on a limited basis. With 10 players gone from last yearâ€™s squad, the Hornets did get one player in return when Mountain View transfer guard Tyler Simmons came to Bryant.
â€śWeâ€™re trying to figure that out,â€ť Abrahamson said of who is going to be the main contributors this year. â€śGuards, everybody is talking about KJ [Hill], CJ Raney, weâ€™re hoping for a good year out of him. Tyler Simmons, a transfer from Mountain View, Greyson Giles is kind of a guard/forward and weâ€™re hoping for a big year out of him.
â€śDown low, basically all weâ€™ve got is Brian Reed, a 6-4 junior, and Zach Cambron, who is really the only player with significant varsity time for us coming back. CJ Raney played some, Zach played off the bench. Simmons played at Mountain View.â€ť
Abrahamson also said senior guards Luke Rayburn, Skyler McKissock and Davis will also figure heavily into the Hornetsâ€™ rotation
â€śWe got to learn, we have to feel our way through some things,â€ť he said . â€śThese guys have never been counted on to carry a team in varsity games. We just need to find out how long itâ€™s going to take us to be highly competitive.
â€śI like the team, thereâ€™s just not a lot of experience in terms of varsity minutes. I donâ€™t know how theyâ€™re going to respond when theyâ€™re in those situations. I hope by the end of the year weâ€™re competitive with anyone we play and are a threat to make another run.â€ť
Not only are the Hornets small and inexperienced, but Bryant is playing in a new conference after competing in the 7A Central last year. The Hornets are now in the 7A/6A South with arch rival Benton.
â€śNot only are we changing conferences,â€ť Abrahamson started, â€śbut the little I did know about these schools, there are four new coaches. Not that being in the Central was easy, because it wasnâ€™t, but after two years being there, I was familiar with what we needed to do. Now weâ€™re back into unfamiliar territory. The kids arenâ€™t going to know any different, theyâ€™re going to play, but in terms of preparing for games and things like that, itâ€™s going to be a challenge. I donâ€™t expect it to be any easier.
â€śWeâ€™re a new team in a completely new league and we just have some unanswered questions out there. Everything we do has to be about team. Weâ€™re going to have to do all the little stuff right; give the extra effort if we want to win games.â€ť