Friday, January 27, 2012

SPORTS >> Panthers pull away late, beat Van Buren

Leader sportswriter

Good second-half shooting helped Cabot pull away from Van Buren in a 65-36 victory over the Pointerettes at Panther Arena on Tuesday to remain unbeaten at home in 7A-Central Conference play.

The Lady Panthers (16-5, 5-1) built a 38-24 halftime lead despite shooting just 25 percent from the floor (3 of 12) in the second quarter, but were lights during a third-quarter performance in which they shot 10 of 11 from the field. Cabot went 20 of 38 for the game for nearly 53 percent while Van Buren was 11 of 29 for just under 40 percent.

“If we could figure out what that was and put it in a bottle, we could make a million dollars,” Cabot assistant coach Charles Ruple said. “There weren’t many bad shots, and some of them were threes. Getting in the flow – that’s the real key, it makes your defense better, and your offense better. That kept us pumped up even when we switched and had other players come in.”

The Pointerettes (15-5, 3-3) fought to a 16-16 tie at the end of the first quarter but could not keep pace beyond that as Cabot used its full-court defensive pressure to generate 24 turnovers, including three steals for senior forward Sydney Wacker, who also finished with eight points.

Wacker was a big part of the third-quarter push that doubled the Lady Panthers’ lead. But the run started from the outside as senior Melissa Wolff hit a three-point basket at the 7:50 mark to give Cabot a 40-24 lead. Laci Boyett then hit a three for her only shot from the floor for part of her nine points. Boyett also went 6 for 6 from the free-throw line.

Wacker then scored the first of three inside baskets with 5:48 left to play in the third just before junior Jaylin Bridges hit a three-pointer to give the Lady Panthers a 48-27 lead.

Wacker scored again off a steal and dish from Wolff, and the duo repeated on Van Buren’s ensuing possession with a steal at midcourt for Wolff and an uncontested shot under the goal for Wacker with 4:15 left to play in the third quarter to give the Lady Panthers a 52-27 margin.

Steals that led to easy points were part of the key to Cabot’s high-percentage third quarter as Bridges stole the ball and got it to Wolff in transition to make it 54-27, and Ally Van Enk took a steal from Micah Odom and scored with 2:04 left to play in the third quarter for a 56-29 Cabot lead.

Senior reserve Sarah Fowler then put the game at mercy-rule status with a minute still left to play in the third quarter when she hit both ends of a two-shot foul to make it 59-29.

Free throws were the key to Cabot establishing a lead in the second quarter after the two teams battled to a stalemate through one.

Wolff hit two foul shots to give the Lady Panthers an 18-16 lead with 7:37 left to play in the half, followed by a three pointer for Bridges and an inside shot by Elliot Taylor to give Cabot a 23-16 lead. Taylor also hit two free throws at the 4:38 mark before Wolff scored the last goal from the floor of the half on an inside basket assisted by Boyett to put the Lady Panthers up 28-19. Boyett then clicked off four straight free throws to put Cabot up by double digits for the first time at 33-21.

Wolff led the Lady Panthers with 16 points and three steals. Bridges added 12 points after going 4 for 4 from three-point range for the game. Taylor and Odom each finished with six points for Cabot.

For Van Buren, Britney Campbell led with eight points.