Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SPORTS >> Panthers finally find range

Leader sports editor

It was rough early and ugly at times, but the final was a thing of beauty for Cabot.

The Panthers spotted the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats an early lead and survived a free-throw shooting outage in the second half to take a 57-44 victory in a 7A-Central Conference game at Cabot on Friday.

It was the first conference victory in two tries for Cabot.

“It was a big win for us,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “North Little Rock is still athletic. They can play. They’re a solid program, a solid team. It was one of our better games. Everybody contributed.”

North Little Rock led 30-23 at halftime and Cabot missed its first eight free throws of the fourth period. But Kai Davis made a three-pointer for the 40-37 lead at the end of the third quarter and Clayton Vaught made five free throws in the fourth to break the 0-8 skid at the line.

“We missed eight in a row when the score was 45-39,” Bridges said. “But every time we missed we stepped it up on defense and they never scored and then we finally started hitting our free throws.”

Cabot was 12 of 23 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter as North Little Rock began fouling to manage the clock. The Panthers were 16 for 31 on free throws overall.

Davis led Cabot (7-8, 1-1) with 17 points and Vaught scored 12. Chris Campbell scored 12 points and had nine rebounds to lead North Little Rock (8-5, 1-1).

Cabot outscored North Little Rock 17-7 in each of the final two quarters as it slowed the pace and held Campbell to just four, second-half points.

“I think it was good confidence win for us,” Bridges said. “Maybe it shows our kids if we execute and do what we show in practice and carry out our game plan we might have a chance to win some games. We believe we can play on that level now.”

Cabot, which was at Little Rock Central on Tuesday night, is enjoying the presence of Logan Spry, who has missed most of the season because of an injury suffered in football but played in his second game Friday night.

“We can play a smaller lineup more now if we need to because he’s strong as an ox and can jump,” Bridges said. “He plays much taller than what he is.”

The Lady Panthers couldn’t make a first-half lead hold up as the undefeated Lady Charging Wildcats used a big third quarter to take a 41-36 victory at Cabot on Friday.