Monday, November 19, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot dominates NLR girls

Leader sportswriter

Saturday’s championship game of the Heavenly Hoops Classic featured two of the top teams in the 7A/6A East Conference.

Cabot, the defending class 7A state champion, dominated North Little Rock in the first quarter, and was by far the more aggressive team down the stretch as the Lady Panthers handed the Charging Lady Wildcats their first loss of the season, winning 67-43 at Mount St. Mary Academy.

Cabot forced several North Little Rock turnovers in the opening quarter that led to points at the other end for the Lady Panthers. On the flip side, Cabot committed just two turnovers in the quarter, and by the end of the first the Lady Panthers held a commanding 22-6 lead.

“We had to come out and play like that,” said Cabot coach Carla Crowder after the game. “Our kids just played real well, and I’m real proud of them. We didn’t really know what to expect, because we haven’t seen (North Little Rock) enough this year. They’re young and they’re going to get better and better every game, and we know that. So we know that we have to be prepared when we play them.”

The Lady Panthers scored the first four points of the second quarter to push its lead to 20, forcing a NLR timeout. Each team scored after the timeout, but after a three pointer by Cabot senior guard Jaylin Bridges, the Lady Panthers led 31-8 with just over 5 minutes to play in the half.

After Bridges’ three, the Lady Wildcats found some rhythm offensively and outscored the Lady Panthers 12-6 to make the score 37-20 at the break. However, once the third quarter got underway, Cabot regained the upper hand.

It wasn’t a dominant quarter for the Lady Panthers, but Cabot outscored NLR 15-9 in the third to lead 52-29 at the start of the fourth. The Lady Wildcats did all they could to make a run in the final quarter, but Cabot had an answer for almost every NLR basket.

“We just got outworked really,” said NLR coach Daryl Fimple. “They were way more physical. When you’re young, that’s part of the game – that you tend to take a backseat to them a little bit. But heck, they were shooting from 2 feet and making it. We did a horrible job defensively of talking and trying to make adjustments.”

North Little Rock’s youth showed at times in the game, especially in the opening quarter. Due to injuries, freshman guard Kyra Collier had to step in and play the point against Cabot’s relentless defense, a task difficult enough as it is, especially for a freshman.

“Of course when you’re starting a freshman point guard some of that stuff gets kind of rough,” Fimple said. “(Cabot) did a good job of taking the rhythm out of our offense. We just couldn’t make a layup, and they could. They shot a bunch of them and made a bunch of them. I’d like to see how many we actually missed. It was quite a few.”

The Lady Wildcats couldn’t manage to narrow the margin in the final quarter, and with 3:32 to play, Cabot sat four of its starters. Senior guard Ally Van Enk, the last Lady Panther starter on the floor, was pulled with 2:37 on the clock. North Little Rock guard Melissa Bridwell made 2 of 2 free throws with 53 seconds to play to make the score 67-43.

Cabot out-rebounded NLR 25-12 in the game, and won the turnover battle by committing 21 to NLR’s 31. Each team made one three pointer, but the Lady Wildcats were the better team at the free throw line. Cabot made 52 percent of its free throws on 23 attempts, and NLR made 75 percent on 24 attempts.

“We just need to continue to work real hard,” Crowder said about her team moving forward. “We’re working really hard trying to do a good job of blocking out, and we did a pretty good job of doing that most of the game. That’s what we need to keep concentrating on, and playing good fundamental defense.”

Elliot Taylor led Cabot with a game-high 14 points. Alyssa Hamilton scored 12, all in the first half. Van Enk scored 10 points and had five steals. Bridges and Danielle McWilliams had nine points apiece.

Sophomore Malica Monk and senior Jasmin Mays were the only Lady Wildcats to finish in double figures. Mays scored 13 points, and Monk scored 10.

North Little Rock (3-1) played at Central Arkansas Christian yesterday, and will resume play Nov. 27 against Jacksonville at home. Cabot (3-0) played at Conway yesterday and will play its next game against Paragould at Panther Arena on Nov. 27.