Tuesday, November 16, 2010

SPORTS>>Cabot’s girls turn up pressure, take win over Lonoke

By Jason king
Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Lady Panthers put their talented underclassmen and deep bench to work against Lonoke in a 65-32 victory in the first round of the Wendy’s/Baptist Health Invitational at Little Rock Hall High School on Monday.

The Lady Jackrabbits (1-1) struggled with Cabot’s team speed and full-court press in the first half and surrendered seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes of a format that featured two, 16-minute halves.

Once Lonoke improved its ball protection, Cabot (1-0) simply went inside to consistent sophomore post player Elliot Taylor, who scored 10 points in the first half and another 10 in the second to lead all scorers andfinish with 20 total points.

“We were glad to get a win,” Lady Panthers coach Carla Crowder said. “We’ve got to do a lot of stuff better, but Lonoke lost a lot last year, and they really work hard.”

Cabot’s outside shooting success was limited, but the Lady Panthers went full throttle with their transition game to jump to a 9-0 lead four minutes in, and they continued the pressure to extend the lead to 16-1 with 9:19 left in the first half.

Crowder said she wants to see improvement in the transition game but she was pleased the Lady Panthers forced turnovers.

“Our kids worked real hard on it,” she said. “We just have to work and get better each game.”

Lonoke had fewer players on its roster than players who scored for Cabot.

A total of 11 Lady Panthers found the basket, including junior Melissa Wolff, who had seven points in limited play.

Wolff also led the full-court defensive charge in the opening minutes with four steals, two of which she passed for assists and two more she took to the goal herself.

Wolff’s steal and feed to Kaki Thomas gave the Lady Panthers a 12-0 lead, and her fullcourt effort with 7:19 left in the first half put them up 18-6.

“With the kids that we’ve got, we’ve got to get the right combination for everything,” Lonoke coach Nathan Morris said.

“We’re going to have to be tougher mentally and physically, and get in a little bit better shape. We have to do the fundamental things right that they didn’t allow us to do.

“We didn’t block out very well, and they were very aggressive to the boards. Their pressure bothered us and got us real tired. They got into our legs. That’s a great, young ball club over there that’s going to do great things. We played a very good team tonight.”

Senior guard Cara Neighbors scored 13 points to lead the Lady Jackrabbits, but found the going tough early.

She had one field goal and three free throws at halftime, and started the second half with another pair of free throws that made it 36-17.

Emily Howell added six points for Lonoke.

“We’re going to be okay down the stretch,” Morris said. “You need nights like this every once in a while. It keeps you in check and lets you know what you need to work on for the rest of the year.

“We’ve not shied away from what we’re trying to do. We’ll play three games here this week. If that doesn’t get us in shape, nothing will.”

Lonoke’s halftime adjustments seemed to slow Cabot’s attack, but there was no strategy for Taylor, who scored under the basket almost at will.

Sydney Wacker joined Taylor in the early minutes of the second half with all four of her points inside, but Taylor was the go-to player in the lane.

Lonoke’s Kaitlyn Tate was the only scorer to interrupt Taylor’s six-point streak midway through the second half.

That put Cabot up 57-28, and a basket by Hilary Russell with 3:55 left finally triggered the sportsmanship/timing rule and started the continuously running clock.

Lonoke’s next tournament game will be 5:30 p.m. on Thursday and Cabot will play again at 8:30 p.m.
After reachng the state championship game for three consecutive seasons, Lonoke lost to Prairie Grove in the semifinals of last year’s 4A state tournament. Cabot lost in the first round of the 7A tournament.