Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SPORTS >> Cabot takes two at Bryant

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers got back on the winning side of things last week after dropping three straight games to begin their 7A-Central Conference schedule and picked up their first league road victory on Friday with a 49-45 decision over Bryant.

The Panthers (11-3, 2-3) had been hampered recently with poor free-throw shooting in close losses to Conway and Little Rock Catholic, but went 8 for 8 from the stripe in the fourth quarter against the Hornets to secure the victory.

“We know we stumbled out of the blocks,” Panthers coach Jerry Bridges said of opening conference play. “That 0-3 start really hurt us. But last week, we were able to get some wins that hopefully we can build on. From here on out, we know you have to protect home court and get any win you can on the road, but that was big for us, I’m not going to lie.”

Sam Howe led the Panthers with 14 points while J.D. Brunett added eight points. Ryan Stafford, Adam Rock and Arthur West all finished with six points for Cabot.

West hit four straight free throws in the final minute while point guard Bryan Shrum added two more in the final eight seconds to keep the Panthers at a two-score advantage.

“We didn’t shoot well against Catholic, but we made our free-throws down the stretch up at Bryant,” Bridges said. “You take them any way you can get them in this conference. We won in a hostile environment, and we needed it.”

The Lady Panthers continued their hot hand in the 7A-Central with a 52-37 victory over Bryant on Friday. Cabot (15-5, 4-1) jumped out to a 28-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and rode the early momentum the rest of the way in a homecoming of sorts for coach Carla Crowder, who led the Lady Hornets to four state championships during a 16-year tenure there in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“For an away game, there was a lot of emotion,” Cabot assistant coach Charles Ruple said. “After the game, there were former players and dads of former players who came up to coach Crowder. I’d bet there was about 50 people who waited around to talk to her. It was unbelievable.”

Senior and University of Arkansas signee Melissa Wolff led the Lady Panthers with 16 points while junior guard Elliot Taylor added 15 points. Post player Sydney Wacker finished with seven points and led an inside defensive stand that denied Bryant of points in the paint.

Ruple also noted guard play, as Jaylin Bridges, Micah Odom and Maddie Smith all finished with strong performances. Smith’s outside shooting served as an effective distraction against the Lady Hornets, who gave up several easy inside shots in attempt to stop her.

“She had a lot of playing time in the second half,” Ruple said. “With her being a long-range shooter, it gave her teammates some opportunities to drive it into the post.”

The Cabot teams hosted Van Buren last night after The Leader deadlines, and will travel to Russellville on Friday.