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After ‘awful’ start, Hornets roll to win

by Mitchell Gladstone | February 4, 2023 at 2:04 a.m.

Maumelle Coach Michael Shook took the blame for his team's slow start Friday night. Perhaps it was the pregame speech -- because the Hornets certainly were well aware of the stakes.

Win and the regular-season 5A-Central title would be fully within their control.

Digging its way out of a 15-5 first-quarter hole, Maumelle pulled away in the second and third quarters en route to a 72-58 win against Sylvan Hills at Hornet Arena. Markalon Rochell scored a game-high 21 points and Jacob Lanier added 17 to give the Hornets a two-game lead atop the conference standings.

"The whole first quarter was awful," Shook said. "I don't know [why]. I've got to do a better job of having them ready. ... But they responded. They came out, they were fired up.

"The two big words for us were 'effort' and 'execution,' and I feel like they did both of those in the third quarter."

Maumelle (15-9, 8-1) kept chipping away at the Bears' early lead, getting as close as 25-24 before eventually tying the score at 30-30 on a fadeaway jumper by Rochell. Cayden McGee then hit a three-pointer from the top of the key inside the final minute of the second quarter and the Hornets held a 33-30 halftime advantage.

The Hornets asserted themselves further out of the break, scoring six unanswered points in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter quarter -- part of an 11-1 run in four-plus minutes.

Rochell played as much a part as anyone in Maumelle's 23-7 third quarter. The 6-5 sophomore scored nine points in the quarter and grabbed four of his eight rebounds to go with a thunderous block.

"The coaches didn't even have to say it," Shook said. "Those other guys, they're like, 'Hey, they can't hold Markalon. This is Markalon's night. Let him go to work, go to work, go to work.' "

Sylvan Hills (13-10, 6-3) didn't fade away despite trailing 56-37 entering the fourth quarter. The Bears scored the first seven points of the quarter and got as close as 11 at one point before a Rochell three-pointer inside the final four minutes proved to be all but the dagger.

Shook reminded his team pregame that tiebreaker points could prove critical with the state playoffs on the horizon, and the Hornets never let Sylvan Hills get within single digits late.

"The first semester, we weren't good. ... We looked like an inexperienced team," Shook said. "We always have a preseason meeting and a midseason meeting right before conference, and we kind of assign roles then. Man, credit to these guys -- they have bought into their roles."

GIRLS

Sylvan Hills 61, Maumelle 37

A stellar defensive second quarter put Sylvan Hills in the driver's seat and the Bears cruised to a comfortable win. Jianna Morris led the Bears with 17 points, making four three-pointers, and Courtney Savelle added 15.

Sylvan Hills (13-4, 8-2 5A-Central) saw its 12-2 lead trimmed to 15-9 late in the first quarter. The Bears then allowed just two points the rest of the half, going on 14-2 run over 10-plus minutes to bury Maumelle (8-16, 3-7).

Raelen Randle posted a game-high 19 points for the Hornets, going 9 for 10 at the free-throw line.

Print Headline: After ‘awful’ start, Hornets roll to win

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