Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls’ rally beats Blue Devils

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Lady Panthers kept pace in the 7A/6A East Conference with a close 40-36 victory at West Memphis on Friday.

The Lady Panthers improved to 11-4 overall with the win, and 3-1 in the 7A/6A East. They are tied with North Little Rock for second place in the league standings – a game behind unbeaten Little Rock Central.

Senior forward Elliot Taylor led all scorers for the Lady Panthers with 18 points while Jaylin Bridges added seven points. The Lady Panthers shot 41 percent from the floor compared to 47 percent for the Lady Blue Devils.

Cabot led 11-10 at the end of one quarter, but West Memphis rallied back in the second to take a 19-17 lead at halftime of the defensive-oriented game. The Lady Panthers fell further behind in the third quarter before dominating the final quarter 17-6, including an 8-for-10 performance at the free-throw line. They also stepped up their defensive effort in that time by limiting the Lady Devils to three field goals.

“I think our experience made a difference late in the game,” Lady Panthers assistant coach Charles Ruple said. “We never lost our cool. We felt like we were going to win, even when we were behind. We played tough and went after loose balls. We also got some big rebounds and hit our free throws late.”

Senior Abbey Allgood led rebounding with five boards and also had three steals for the Lady Panthers.

The Panther boys team was not as fortunate as they fell to the Blue Devils 45-30 on Friday. The loss dropped the Panthers to 6-9 overall and 1-3 in the 7A/6A East Conference.

“It helps to make shots,” Panthers coach Jerry Bridges said. “They did and we didn’t. I don’t think it was a case that they were 15 points better than we were, we just couldn’t get any shots to fall for us.”

Hunter York was a bright spot for Cabot as he went 50 percent (5 for 10) from three-point range to lead the Panthers with 15 points.

“He has been a bright spot for us,” Bridges said. “I’m getting a lot of confidence in him. We just didn’t hit much early on.”

The Blue Devils jumped out to a 12-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 22-10 at the half. At the end of the third quarter, the advantage had stretched to 34-15 before the Panthers doubled their total amount of points in the final eight minutes.

Bridges emphasized shooting during Monday practice. His praise of his team’s defensive efforts is equaled by his frustration when it comes to shooting.

“We’re shooting that son of a gun everywhere but in the hole,” Bridges said. “But we’ll keep plugging. We’re playing really well on the defensive end, but it’s tough for us when it comes to scoring points. I’ve never had that.”