Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SPORTS >> Buzzer beater sinks Panthers

Leader sports editor

No matter what happens the rest of the season, Cabot’s home conference opener against Conway on Friday will be remembered as the one, and hopefully for Cabot the only one, that got away. The Panthers blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead and fell 45-43 to the Wampus Cats for their first loss of the season.

“We missed the little bunnies (Cabot coach Jerry Bridges’ term for layups) and we missed free throws down the stretch,” Bridges said. “We gave this one away.”

While Cabot certainly played a role in giving up a double-digit lead, it wasn’t entirely a giveaway. Conway guard Tim Boyd, who nearly single-handedly kept his team in the game, swished a double-teamed three pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining that set the final margin. It was Conway’s first lead since 10-8 at the end of the first quarter.

“It was a very good player making a great play,” Bridges said of Boyd’s shot. “That was good defense. We knew they were probably going to him and we were on him. He just made a great play. But we’ve got to do a better job of putting teams away and not letting them be in position to win it when we have them down like that.”

Cabot made just one field goal in the fourth quarter and missed three of four free-throw attempts in the final 1:50 of the game. Leading 43-39, Sam Howe made one of two at the line. Seconds later, Conway’s Garan Davis nailed a three pointer to make it a one-point game. Conway fouled Adam Rock with 53 seconds to go and he missed both free throws. Conway lost it out of bounds on its next possession and Cabot called timeout with 14.7 seconds remaining.

On the inbounds play from underneath Conway’s basket, Cabot got Jordan Brunett loose on the runout, but Brunett missed a wide-open layup and Cabot knocked the ball out of bounds going for the rebound. The clock did not start on the play, and after the officials conferred, they put 14.3 seconds on the clock for Conway, setting up Boyd’s game winner.

Cabot got one final shot, and Arthur West barely missed a 30-plus-foot three pointer at the buzzer.

“They messed up on the clock,” Bridges said. “There’s no way that play only took four-tenths of a second, but there’s no excuses for this one. Like I said, we gave it away.”

Cabot (9-1, 0-1) got eight points from Howe and Josiah Wymer. Wymer also led the team in rebounds with nine. Boyd was the only player in the game to score in double figures. He finished with 21 points, including five three pointers in eight attempts.

Cabot was bad from the free-throw line. Conway was worse. The Panthers made six of 14 attempts while the Wampus Cats hit seven of 21. The Panthers won the rebounding battle 28-21.

Conway was better from three-point land than from two-point range. The Wampus Cats hit 41 percent of their three-point attempts (7 of 17), and were below 30 percent elsewhere (8 of 27).

Cabot was 18 of 44 from the field, including one of eight from three-point range.

The Panthers were at Catholic on Tuesday and travel to North Little Rock on Friday.