FORT SMITH -- It was a slow start for Greg Johnson in the championship game of the Coca-Cola Classic, but the Little Rock Hall junior more than made up for it.
Johnson scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half in a 49-42 victory against Bryant at the Stubblefield Center.
Johnson, the tournament's MVP, started the second half with a dunk to spark the Hall offense.
"We just had to get him going with telling our guards to get him touches," Hall Coach Jon Coleman said. "I think emotionally he had a big game last night and maybe came out a little sluggish. But once he got the dunk, he got it going."
Bryant took a 22-18 lead heading into the break by finding good shots in the first quarter. When the Hornets' shots weren't falling in the second quarter, their defense limited the Warriors on offense.
Hall (13-2) flipped the momentum in the third quarter by forcing eight turnovers to spark a 12-0 run that allowed the Warriors to take a 34-30 lead into the final quarter.
"They really mix it up on defense," Bryant Coach Mike Abrahamson said. "I thought the difference was their run-and-jump press. They did that really well. It was one of those things where we made some mistakes in that situation."
Bryant (9-4) cut the lead to 41-39 late in the fourth quarter with a basket from senior Deron Canada, but the Hornets didn't get any closer.
"We came back at them there in the fourth quarter and made a run at them," Abrahamson said. "We handled their press a lot better. But they were able to take advantage of that in the third quarter, and that was the difference."
Hall outscored Bryant 8-3 down the stretch and got a dunk from Ke'Von Cooper as an exclamation point.
"One thing we said is that was probably as bad as we could have played in the first half," Coleman said. "So we felt good just being down a couple possessions. We knew we were in good shape. We knew we would play well after the break."
Bryant was led by Canada, who finished with a game-high 18 points. Khalen Robinson added 15 before fouling out.
Hall captured its first Coca-Cola Classic tournament championship since 2011, which has Coleman excited about his team.
"It feels good to win it again," Coleman said. "This usually tells us where we are at. This shows us the potential of our team moving forward. This was a good tournament for us."
The Hornets jumped out to a 14-9 lead after the first quarter, making 6 of 10 shots from the field. Bryant was limited to eight second-quarter points, but Hall had eight turnovers in the quarter.
The Warriors found high-percentage shots, making 7 of 12 in the first half, but they had 12 turnovers in the first two quarters.
Robinson 6 3-3 15, Chumley 2 1-2 6, Lambert 0 1-4 1, Canada 7 4-5 18, Wallace 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 5-9 42.
Madison 2 2-2 6, Cooper 3 0-2 7, Smith 1 0-2 2, Johnson 8 1-1 17, Peterson 3 0-0 6, Dismuke 2 0-0 6, Coleman 1 2-2 5. Totals 20 5-9 49.
Bryant (9-4);14 8 8 12 -- 42
Hall (13-2); 9 9 16 15 -- 49
Three-point goals -- Bryant 5 (Canada 4, Chumley), Hall 4 (Dismuke 2, Coleman, Cooper). Team fouls -- Bryant 12, Hall 15. Fouled out -- Robinson, Cooper.
Sports on 12/31/2017
Print Headline: Johnson perks up, carries LR Hall