Tuesday, November 08, 2011

SPORTS >> Cabot’s Wolff to go to Lady Razorbacks

Leader sportswriter

Cabot senior Melissa Wolff may be headed for the big time, but she still has to hear it from her high-school coaches from time to time.

Wolff, who will sign her National Letter of Intent to play basketball for the University of Arkansas at noon today, was asked what part of her game needed improvement as she sat in the coaches’ office following the Cabot Basketball Bash intramural scrimmage on Monday night.

Wolff said her outside shot and defense needed some work, but Lady Panthers coach Carla Crowder and assistant Charles Ruple, who were both seated at their desks attending to other business, didn’t hesitate to chime in.

“Blocking out,” Crowder said.

“Did you say SOME work?” Ruple added.

The lighthearted critique from Wolff’s coaches is no indication of how vital she has been to the Cabot girls program since arriving as a sophomore in 2009.

She led the team in scoring as a sophomore and a junior, and proved to be a tough full-court defender last season as she led the Lady Panthers to a 7A Central Conference runner-up finish and an appearance in the state semifinals in early March. The word on Wolff got out early on the local level, and she raised her profile over the summer by playing on the Arkansas Mavericks AAU team, which played in a lot of exposure tournaments in northwest Arkansas.

Wolff and the Mavericks even got the chance to scrimmage with the Lady Razorbacks at a camp.

That got the interest rolling and by mid-summer, Wolff was verbally committed.

“I’ve always wanted to be a Razorback,” Wolff said. “So, that was a really awesome opportunity for me. I’m really happy.”

Wolff’s solid 4.0 GPA helped her cause in attracting NCAA Division I interest. She plans on majoring in kinesiology to pursue a career in physical therapy, and already has a number of advanced-placement classes to her credit.

Wolff wasted no time taking her official visit to the campus, and went at an opportune time, during the football Razorbacks’ home opener against Missouri State on Sept. 3.

“It was really cool,” Wolff said. “We got to go during the first home football game, so it was kind of a big deal there. We got to go down on the field, and they just kind of took us down before the game. Then, we just basically went and hung out with the team. It was just a lot of fun.”

With the early signing out of the way before the start of the season, Wolff and her teammates are hoping to build on their successful 20-10 season a year ago. The Lady Panthers finished runners-up to North Little Rock in the 7A-Central Conference with a record of 10-4, and made it to the state tournament semifinals.

Wolff will help lead a team with plenty of talent and size, including senior classmates Sydney Wacker, Micah Odom, Sarah Fowler and Laci Boyett, as well as a strong junior class that includes point guard Jaylin Bridges and Elliot Taylor.

“We’re hoping for a state championship, a conference championship – and we’ve got to take it one game at a time,” Wolff said. “We all work very well together and we work hard. We’ve been working this summer, and hoping for the best.”