Saturday, November 24, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls left behind at Conway

Leader sportswriter

A close game quickly turned into a rout in the waning minutes of the third quarter as Conway increased its defensive pressure against Cabot, allowing the Lady Wampus Cats to claim a 90-64 victory at Buzz Bolding Arena on Tuesday.

The Lady Cats (3-1) led 52-50 at the 2:30 mark of the third quarter before finally wearing their visitors down to stretch the close margin. Conway outscored the Lady Panthers 17-2 during the final two-and-a-half minutes of the period to hold a 69-52 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Senior Elliot Taylor led the Lady Panthers (4-1) with 21 points and three steals, but no one had an answer for Conway senior Enjonae Chambers, who scored 22 points in her first game back from a shoulder injury.

“We started out starting four sophomores,” Conway coach Ashley Nance said. “They have so much to learn about my philosophy, I mean, they’re a very talented group.”

Chambers, a two-time all-state player, underwent shoulder surgery during the summer, and had not been on the court in any situation until Tuesday. The rust dissipated for Chambers quickly, however, as she hit her first of five three-point baskets at the 4:35 mark of the first quarter to give the Lady Cats an early 14-8 lead.

“This was her first game back,” Nance said. “She really hasn’t had any contact. We knew she was that big of a difference. We thought once we combined all that and get just a little more mature, we could be really good. We made a few adjustments on our press, and we really feel like that’s our game.”

Things took a turn for the worse against Cabot when senior point guard Jaylin Bridges picked up her fourth personal foul with 6:27 left to play in the third quarter. The Lady Panthers led most of the second quarter and took a 43-41 lead to start the second half when Abbey Allgood scored inside with an assist from Alyssa Hamilton. But Bridges reached in on Conway’s Jordan Danberry on the ensuing possession and was forced to check out of the game.

Bridges came back in the game during the final minutes, but the damage had already been done by Conway’s press.

“With the press, if you’re watching from the stands, you’re thinking, ‘man, they score a lot off the press,’” Nance said. “And they do. But if you add up how many we score off of it and how many they score off of it, if we’re in the positive, we’re good with that.”

Taylor got most of her team-high 21 points the hard way for the Lady Panthers with tough inside drives. She did manage a cheap one at the 5:57 mark of the opening quarter when Bridges found her for a backdoor assist to cut Conway’s early lead to 8-6. Kianna Speight gave the Lady Cats an 11-6 lead with a three pointer, but Taylor came back with another inside shot, followed by a basket on an inbounds play with an assist from senior Ally Van Enk.

The two schools have been conference opponents in the 7A/6A Central for a number of years before Cabot moved over to the 7A/6A East conference. But Nance said the fact that games are now nonconference between the two has not put any kind of damper on the level of competitiveness.

“Coach Crowder does a great job, it doesn’t matter who’s on the floor,” Nance said. “You’ve got to take them serious every single night. They just got through winning the Mount St. Mary tournament, haven’t lost a game. They have Elliot Taylor and the Bridges kid, seniors from a state-championship team. You take those two kids, you can do some damage.”

Hamilton added 17 points and eight rebounds for Cabot and Bridges finished with 10 points. Allgood led rebounding for the Lady Panthers with nine. For Conway, Speight added 19 points.

Cabot will host Paragould Tuesday.