Tuesday, January 31, 2012

SPORTS >> Cabot moves past Cyclones

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Lady Panthers secured second place in the 7A Central Conference standings with a 68-58 victory at Russellville on Friday. The two teams were tied for the second spot going into the game, one back of unbeaten North Little Rock.

Senior Laci Boyett led the Lady Panthers with 17 points while Melissa Wolff and Elliot Taylor each had 14 points. Free-throw shooting turned out to be the difference for Cabot as Taylor went 6 of 8 at the stripe and Wolff was 7 of 8. Senior forward Sydney Wacker had a season-high 13 points and was also solid at the line, going 5 of 6.

“You never know about free throws,” Lady Panthers assistant coach Charles Ruple said. “I’ve been doing this for 40-something years, and I can’t tell you what to do. I can tell you this – what we shot on Friday is pretty good for a team.” In all, the Lady Panthers shot 73 percent at the foul line against Russellville (16 of 22).

Free-throw shooting has been a strong point for the Lady Panthers since the start of league play. Their only game to fall below 68 percent was also their only loss to North Little Rock at 58 percent.

For Russellville, Carroll Davis led with 15 points while Susan Taylor added 11 points.

“They didn’t handle the press well,” Ruple said of the Lady Cyclones. “We kept it on longer than we normally would. Sometimes, there might be a team where we feel like we need to keep pressure on them a little longer. What was really surprising is that they only hit one three pointer in the first quarter.”

Outside shooting was not a mainstay for either team. Wolff and junior Ally Van Enk each scored beyond the arc once in the second quarter for all of Cabot’s three-point baskets.

Junior point guard Jaylin Bridges finished with six points for the Lady Panthers, including 4 of 4 at the free-throw line. Cabot is now 17-5 overall and 6-1 in the 7A Central Conference through one round of league play.

Free-throw shooting did just the opposite for the Cabot boys as the Panthers fell to the Cyclones 49-44. The Panthers (11-4, 3-4) shot 8 of 16 at the foul line while Russellville went 18 of 22. Sam Howe led Cabot with 10 points while seniors Arthur West and Adam Rock each added eight points. Junior Clayton Vaught finished with seven points for the Panthers.

“It’s been our Achilles’ heel,” Panthers coach Jerry Bridges said of his team’s inconsistent free-throw shooting. “We’ve won every game where we’ve shot 65 percent or better from the line. I would like to up that a little more up to 70 percent, but 65’s been our magic number. That made a big difference.”

Cabot was up by six with five minutes left to play when Russellville began to close in with a three-point basket that cut the advantage in half. The spotty foul shooting led to Cabot missing the front ends of two straight one-and-one fouls, and the Cyclones were there for key defensive rebounds.

The Cabot teams played at Conway last night and will host Little Rock Catholic/Mount St. Mary on Friday.