Friday, February 10, 2012

SPORTS >> Cabot pummels Belles

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Lady Panthers defended their perfect record in the new Panther Arena with a near-perfect performance against Mount St. Mary on Tuesday. The Lady Panthers cruised to a 67-24 win.

The Lady Panthers (19-5, 8-1) took control from the start and maintained even through numerous lineup changes against a Belles team which struggled mightily against Cabot’s press. Mount St. Mary committed 15 turnovers alone in the first half and 23 for the game.

Junior guard Jaylin Bridges led the way for the Lady Panthers with 16 points, including four three-point baskets, while senior center and University of Arkansas signee Melissa Wolff added 12 points, six rebounds and five steals. Sophomore Maddie Smith finished with 11 points, including four straight field goals in the fourth quarter for Cabot’s final eight points.

Cabot opened the game on an 8-0 run and finished the first frame on a 12-0 run that started with the first of Bridges’ long-distance jumpers to give the Lady Panthers a 19-6 lead. Senior forward Sydney Wacker then took an inbounds pass from Micah Odom and scored underneath the basket to make it 21-6 with 1:27 remaining in the first quarter.

Wolff took a steal and feed from junior Ally Van Enk and converted a layup before Van Enk made a pull-up jumper to extend the lead to 25-6 with 24 seconds left to play, and Bridges bookended the run with another trey to put the Lady Panthers up 28-6 heading into the second quarter.

The Lady Panthers continued to dominate in the third quarter, as Bridges started the second half with another swished three pointer for a 40-15 Cabot lead. Wolff added two free throws at the 7:41 mark and then converted a steal by Elliot Taylor to make it 44-15.

Laci Boyett delivered the final blow from the starting unit with a lay up off a steal and assist from Wacker with 6:50 left to go in the third quarter to boost the Lady Panthers’ lead to 46-15.

Bridges was left on the floor for ball-handling purposes once the other starters made their exit, and her hot hand continued with a steal in the backcourt she took all the way for a score at the 3:01 mark, followed by her final three-point basket with 2:45 left to play in the third quarter to give the Lady Panthers a 54-18 lead.

Sarah Fowler and Van Enk closed out the third quarter with a basket each in the final minute to push the score to 58-20 before the mercy rule activated the continuous clock in the fourth quarter.

Wacker finished with eight points for Cabot while Taylor had six points and Boyett had five. Van Enk finished with six rebounds and five steals for the Lady Panthers.

Cabot hosted North Little Rock last night after The Leader deadlines. A win in that game would put those two teams in a tie for first place atop the 7A Central standings. Look for details of that matchup in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader. The Lady Panthers will play at Little Rock Central on Tuesday.