Tuesday, January 08, 2013

SPORT STORY >> North ladies solid at line, beat Conway

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Junior High North Lady Panthers came back from the holiday break strong with a 43-33 victory over Conway Blue at the CJHN gymnasium on Monday.

Free-throw shooting went a long way for the Lady Panthers, who went 13 for 16 from the stripe, including an 8-for-10 performance for leading scorer CoCo Calhoun. Calhoun led the way for the Lady Panthers with 21 points, along with five rebounds and two steals.

“That’s what we need from her,” Lady Panthers coach Jeremy Holbrook said. “She’s our best player, and if she can play like that, we can win a lot of games. We talked to her over the Christmas break and challenged her a little bit, and as you can see tonight, she stepped up and did what we expect her to do for us.”

Outside shooting kept the Lady ’Cats in the game most of the way. Conway hit a pair of three-point baskets in the first quarter, but Calhoun answered for Cabot with eight of her points, including four free throws. Calhoun also assisted the other goal for the Lady Panthers in the first six minutes on a shot underneath the basket by Claire Eifling to give Cabot a 9-8 lead at the 1:30 mark.

Eifling put the Lady Panthers up 13-10 at the start of the second quarter with a pair of free throws, but Conway came back with five straight points to go up 15-13. The rest of the half was essentially a trade off until Calhoun hit Cabot’s only three pointer of the night inside five seconds to give the Lady Panthers a 25-21 lead at the break.

“I thought our team played a little bit better as a group,” Holbrook said. “We went to Heber Springs over the Christmas break and played probably two of our worst games we’ve had. Maybe that got us going a little bit. I was real proud of them sticking to the game plan.”

The Lady Panthers were able to slowly extend their lead throughout the second quarter as more players started to get into the mix scoring wise. Rachael Allgood gave Cabot a 31-22 lead when she came away with a steal and converted it with a layup with 2:48 left to play in the third quarter. Calhoun pulled down a defensive rebound in the final minute of the third, which led to a basket by Maddie Rice to put the Lady Panthers up 35-28.

Rebounding was vital for Cabot. Conway kept the Lady Panthers off the defensive glass early and generated a number of second and third-chance opportunities, but post player Lily Sinclair got involved midway through the opening period and went on to lead Cabot with seven rebounds.

Conway cut the lead to 39-33 with just over a minute to play and quickly called timeout to set up a press defense. Cabot beat the attempt, which gave Calhoun an open look for an easy basket. The Lady ’Cats sent Allgood to the line inside 30 seconds, and she sank both shots to set the final margin.

Eifling added 10 points for Cabot, which improved to 10-4 overall and 1-0 in Central Arkansas Junior High Conference play.