Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SPORTS >> Lady Panthers control Conway

Leader sports editor

Conway jumped out to a quick 8-4 lead on the Cabot Lady Panthers early in Friday’s 7A Central conference matchup, but the Lady Wampus Cats couldn’t handle Cabot’s early pressure and couldn’t contain their outside shooting as the Lady Panthers won 70-58 at Panther Arena.

With senior post player and leading scorer Melissa Wolff on the bench early with foul trouble, Cabot’s guards picked up the slack. Cabot forced eight Conway turnovers in the first quarter, including three steals by point guard Jaylin Bridges. Bridges also hit two three-pointers while guard Micah Odom came off the bench to nail another one as the Lady Panthers finished the first quarter with a 13-2 run and took a 17-10 lead into the second frame.

“We’ve had players step up all year when we’ve needed them to,” Cabot coach Carla Crowder said. “I thought we played really good defense and played pretty well overall tonight.”

Conway’s Claire Hobbs led the early assault that gave her squad the brief lead. She got back-to-back steals and layups and added a three pointer for a 7-0 streak on her own. McCall Wilkins scored the Lady Wampus Cats other three points in the quarter, but from that point, it was Enjonae Chambers that kept Conway in the game.

Chambers led a brief rally in the second quarter that gave the Wampus Cats a 26-24 lead with barely more than two minutes left in the half, but Cabot closed the half with another run and was in control the rest of the way.

Cabot got 10 of its 17 second-quarter points from the bench. Maddie Smith and Alexandra VanEnk contributed three pointers while Sarah Fowler and Smith added a basket apiece to the run. Elliot Taylor scored five, including an and-one play that gave Cabot back the lead for good at 29-26 with 1:50 left in the half.

VanEnk’s three pointer closed a 12-0 Cabot run at 36-26 with a minute left. Conway’s Madison Foster hit two free throws to make it 36-28 at halftime.

The pace dipped slightly in the third quarter, but three pointers from both teams kept it exciting. Bridges ripped off three more from behind the arc as Cabot’s lead grew to 49-36 by quarter’s end.

The Lady Panthers’ lead peaked at 55-39 with 5:02 remaining and Cabot threatened to run away with the win, but Chambers and Hobbs rallied again to keep the score respectable.

Bridges led Cabot (13-4, 1-0) with 17 points and seven steals and also had five rebounds. Wolff got back into the flow in the fourth quarter to finish with 13. She scored nine of those in the final frame. Taylor was a free throw away from a double-double. She finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.

Conway got all of its point production from the starting five, and all but 10 from Chambers, Hobbs and Foster. Chambers had a game-high 24 points while Hobbs scored 13 and Foster 11.

Cabot played at Mount St. Mary’s last night and go on the road again on Friday to face North Little Rock.