Friday, December 09, 2011

SPORTS >> Panther Tourney providing good ball

Special to The Leader

The Cabot Panthers and Lady Panthers didn’t take the floor in the Cabot Pre-Holiday Tournament for three days after opening the event on Monday, but there has still been plenty of good basketball at the new Panther Arena.

With three defending state champions in the tournament along with some playoff regulars and contenders, the girls bracket is one of the better tournament lineups in the state.

England, Shiloh Christian and Watson Chapel are each defending champs, while Cabot and Jessieville have made recent runs.

The boys side isn’t quite as loaded, but athletic teams like Watson Chapel, Wynne and England came in looking to compete with bigger schools like Cabot and Benton — the defending 6A-South champ.

Tuesday saw the action take a bit of a hit as Shiloh Christian was unable to make the trip due to road conditions, forfeiting their opening games against Searcy. The late games didn’t disappoint, as the Nettleton Lady Raidersbeat the Watson Chapel Lady Wildcats 47-42, while the Chapel boys beat Wynne 59-54.

Jovione Bailey led Watson Chapel with 26 points after a great first half, where he scored 18 to lead the Wildcats to a big lead.

Wednesday had two games on the schedule, with the England Lady Lions taking down Jessieville 66-61 while the Benton Panthers dispatched England 67-44.

Janeka Watkins was dominant for the Lady Lions in their win with 33 points, while Jessieville was led by Peyton Herrell’s 26 points.

For the boys, Benton’s 6-9 junior Graham Gardner scored 13 points, matched by sophomore teammate Josh Bowling. England was led by Josh Fudge with 15 points.

Thursday night saw two champions go down on the girls side, with Watson Chapel and England both losing.

Jessieville beat Chapel 45-33 behind Herrell’s 16 points, but won’t be able to advance to the consolation game Saturday. Many of the players are taking the ACT test that day, so Watson Chapel will take their place instead.

The Lady Lions couldn’t keep up with the Lady Raiders in double overtime in a 67-60 loss. England had their star twin guards, Janeka and Jameka Watson, foul out in regulation, with Janeka fouling out in the third quarter after scoring 28 points. Aria Dunbar had 20 points for England, but was the only Lady Lion on the court with points in overtime. Nettleton was led by Jennifer Towne’s 19 points, while Lexi Beliew added 18 more — 13 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

The final game Thursday night wasn’t as close as expected with Benton taking control and beating Watson Chapel 52-33.

The game was close through the first quarter until a Zach Stuckey three-pointer near the end of the quarter sparked a 10-0 run in the second quarter.

Thaddeus Caffery scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for Benton, while point guard Nate Griffin led the Panthers with six assists and six rebounds to go with 11 points.

The Cabot Lady Panthers and Panthers both played Searcy on Friday, with the winners advancing to today’s championship.

The girls winner will play Nettleton at 6 p.m., while the boys winner takes on Benton at 7:30 p.m.. The loser of the girls game plays England at 3 p.m. The boys loser plays Watson Chapel at 4:30 p.m.