Hornets swarm in Eagles' nest

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By Jenna McKenna

Hawthorne rolls on undefeated, and Bronson basketball is taking a hard look in the mirror, trying to decide what to fix first. The Eagles lost 73-55 Friday to the district-leading Hornets and must now look to retool for the second half of the season.

Bronson didn't shoot or rebound well, turned the ball over too much and didn't play the Super Glue defense they're known for. All in all, pretty much a recipe for a good mangling at the hands of Hawthorne. On such a night, it was doubly cruel to have James Rivers still recovering from the high ankle sprain suffered against Oak Hall. Rivers played sporadically, but wasn't able to be as mobile and aggressive as usual, and his leadership was deeply missed.

Hawthorne led 11-5 at the end of the first quarter, not a big lead, and not much sign of what was about to happen. At the top of the second quarter, Jimmy Johnson went baseline for a layup, then David Pittman got a steal and took it up. Pittman exploded for eight of the Hornets' 23 second quarter points. Bronson's troubles multiplied when Ed Ray and Tekedric Brown started dropping threes.

Hawthorne defended as aggressively as they shot, and the Eagles had difficulty moving the ball inside. Virgil Greenlee got a steal and made the layup, and Enrique Wiseman and Kelby Barber also scored, but that was Bronson's floor shooting for the second quarter. Barber and Wiseman also went inside enough to go to the line, making a combined three of four. The Eagles were in the hole 34-16 at the half.

The third quarter was much the same, with only Wiseman – with five points on the quarter – having much success from the floor. Rivers got inside with Wiseman and helped rebound, feeding the ball to Rodolfo Contreras for a cut-in layup on the break. Hawthorne just kept pouring orange into round, led by Ray and Johnson. The Hornets bumped their lead to 54-26, and Bronson was in real trouble.

With absolutely nothing to lose, the Eagles called for a fire drill in the fourth quarter, outscoring the other three quarters combined. Point man C.J. King, held scoreless for 24 minutes, nailed up 17 points in the fourth quarter, including five threes.

“I was getting ready to pull him (late in the game), but he made two three-pointers in a row,” said Eagles' head coach Aaron Haldeman. “I thought, 'Maybe I'll leave him in and see what happens.'”

What happened was that the Eagles began to press and go after the ball, and having gotten the ball, to shoot it. With every swish from King's big shots, the Eagles dug a little spoonful of dirt out of the mountain in front of them. There was no way to get all the way back, but for the first time in the game, they played freely and with confidence.

“The way they were shooting in the fourth quarter, I wish they could shoot that loose and easy, right from the start,” said Haldeman.

Zach Hamilton and Raymie Powers, also quiet in the early game, chipped in five and six fourth quarter points, respectively. Everybody rebounded and played defense. Bronson had 29 points in the fourth quarter, to Hawthorne's 19.

Haldeman elucidated the team's woes afterward.

“I had trouble getting anyone to play defense, and to get back in transition,” he said.

“Virgil Greenlee took a charge, and that was the only offensive foul in the whole game. We didn't contest shots – we've got to do a better job.”

One bright spot was free throw shooting. When the Eagles got to the line, they shot about 63 percent.

“We're shooting our free throws better,” said Haldeman.

Bronson is already in the heart of its district schedule, 1-2 against district opponents and facing Mayo twice in the next three weeks, with its own holiday tournament in between.

“We've got to work quickly,” Haldeman said.

“When we come back from the break, we start the second half of the season, and I don't want to be here in February, still saying, 'We've got to start putting it together.'  We've got to get on the ball.”