Wednesday, February 15, 2006

SPORTS >> Favorites win in Metro opener

Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: All of the higher seeds won their first-round games in the Metro Conference freshmen basketball tournament Monday at Cabot High and CJHN.

The first round of the Metro-Conference tournament got underway at the Cabot High School gymnasium Monday night, and it was an opening round minus any upsets.

The higher seed won every game in the first night of action, which was delayed over the weekend because of the threat of snow. The Cabot South and Mount St. Mary’s girls advanced in the tournament, while North Pulaski, North Little Rock and Mills won first-round boys games.

One game was played at the North gym Monday night while the rest were held at Cabot High School.

The Cabot South girls moved on to round two with a 40-32 win over Sylvan Hills. The Lady Bears mounted a comeback in the third quarter after trailing 22-9 at halftime.

Sylvan Hills pulled to within two, 30-28 with 3:09 left in the game.

With a comeback in sight, Caron Van Hooks fouled out of the game for the Lady Bears, leaving only four players on the court. Myisha Harris led Sylvan Hills with 16 points, while Shelby Ashcraft was North’s game-leading scorer with 19.

The Lady Panthers faced North Little Rock on Tuesday. The Lady Wildcats received a bye to the semi-final round after finishing the regular season first in the Metro standings.

Sylvan Hills lost its opening game in the boys bracket to Mills 43-34. Maurice Peaster led the Bears with 12 points, while Richard Bunting led the Comets with 16 points and went 5 for 5 at the foul line. Mills faced conference champions Jacksonville on Tuesday.

North Little Rock advanced to the semifinals of the boys bracket with a win over South 53-44. The Wildcats got out to the early lead in the game, going up 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. South picked up offensive momentum in the second frame, but couldn’t close the early gap made by North Little Rock. The score was 18-11 at halftime, setting up an offensive shoot-out in the third quarter.

The Wildcats scored 19 points to South’s 12 in the third, with a pair of three-pointers for NLR, and a three from South’s Austin Johnson at the start of the period. The Panthers never came closer than eight in the final quarter, and the Wildcats moved to round two.

Johnson led South with 19 points. Gary Clark added 10 points for the Panthers. The Wildcats had three players finish in double figures.

North Pulaski reached the semifinals with a 41-31 win over Catholic in the North gymnasium on Monday night.

The Falcons took control early, leading 9-3 over the Rockets with 4:37 left in the first half. North Pulaski took the advantage by as much as 10 in the first half with less than two minutes to go, but a late Catholic rally cut the Falcons’ advantage to 15-9 by halftime.

By the end of the third quarter, North Pulaski returned to possessing a double-digit lead over the Rockets, and held it for the remainder of the contest. Jordan Anderson led all scorers for North Pulaski with 17 points.

Carlos Donley and Jaqun Davis both added six points for the Falcons.

The Falcons will play the winner of Tuesday evening’s game between Cabot North and Oak Grove to-day at 5:15 p.m at the High Sch-ool gym in the semifinals of the tourney.

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils ended their season on a disappointing note with an opening-round loss to Mt. Saint Mary’s 45-25. The Belles move on to play the winner of yesterday’s game between North and Mills on Wednesday.

Today’s semifinal games start at 4 p.m. with Mt. Saint Mary’s against Cabot North. North Pulaski’s boys face the Cabot North-Oak Grove winner at 5:15. The second girls semifinal game between North Little Rock and South will get underway at 6:30. Jacksonville will then play North Little Rock in the final boys contest of the night.

The winners of those games will meet on Thursday in the finals of the Metro tournament. The girls game gets underway at 6:45 p.m., followed by the boys finals at 8 p.m.