Friday, February 10, 2012

SPORTS >> Panthers lose overtime duel with Catholic

Leader sportswriter

The power outage experienced at Panther Arena on Tuesday was not the result of the two teams on its court shooting the lights out of the place.

In fact, shooting was below 40 percent for both Cabot and Catholic High School, but the Rockets used their advantage inside to tie the game at the end of regulation and eventually win in overtime 39-35, completing a season sweep over the Panthers in the 7A-Central Conference.

Catholic post player Matt Morris dominated with 20 points and 16 rebounds and hit a game-saving shot for the Rockets in the final five seconds of regulation that tied the game at 34. Morris also hit the only field goal in overtime to put Catholic up 36-34, as Cabot (12-6, 3-6) could not take advantage of the Rockets’ failure to close the game out at the free throw line in the final two minutes.

Struggles at the free-throw line were parallel to a trying night of shooting from the floor for both teams as Cabot finished 15 of 46 for 33 percent while Catholic went 13 of 33 for 39 percent.

The game was actually on pace to be finished in record time with Catholic’s Zack Reinars at the line for the second of two foul shots and the Rockets up 32-30 with 2:24 left to play in the fourth quarter at approximately 8:15 p.m., but a quick flicker was the only warning before the arena went pitch black for nearly five seconds. The darkness gave way to the recovery of secondary lighting around the aisles and exits, but the ensuing scramble to retrieve the floor lights took 20 minutes, and the overtime period pushed time well beyond 9 p.m.

“We shot the lights out,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “You definitely can’t attribute it to our shooting, unfortunately. We had our chances at the end, but they got it to overtime, and we didn’t do the things we needed to in order to win.”

Sam Howe led the Panthers with 11 points while Arthur West added nine points and J.D. Brunett finished with five points.

The Rockets never truly put the game away once they got the lead in overtime, going 3 of 12 from the foul line down the stretch, but Cabot went 0 for 6 from the floor during the extra period. That set up the routine of a Cabot miss, followed by a Catholic rebound and subsequent trip to the stripe.

The real drama unfolded once the lights came back on late in the fourth and point guard Bryan Shrum put the Panthers up 33-32 with a three-point basket at the 2:02 mark. Shrum made it 34-32 when he hit the front end of a one-and-one with 23 seconds remaining in regulation, but he missed the second shot and Morris rebounded for the Rockets. Catholic used its final time out with 10.3 seconds left on the clock and set up a play for Morris, who muscled his way through Cabot defenders for the tying shot at 2.1 seconds.

“It was talked about,” Bridges said of defending Morris late. “We tried to swarm him, but he keeps working. He played a great game, and he probably outworked us some. We need to start coming up with some more loose balls; we’ve got to start getting our hands on them.”

Cabot hosted North Little Rock last night after Leader deadlines, and will play at Little Rock Central on Tuesday.