Saturday, January 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot North girls cruise past Benton

Leader sportswriter

A strong first quarter on both ends of the court helped the Cabot Junior High North Lady Panthers coast to a 35-19 victory over Benton on Thursday at the Cabot North gym to maintain their perfect record in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference.

Lily Sinclair, Maddie Rice, Claire Eifling, Rachel Allgood and CoCo Calhoon all put up points for Cabot (11-4, 3-0) in the opening quarter to take an 11-0 lead. However, Benton (3-14, 0-4) wouldn’t make it so easy in the second quarter.

The visiting Lady Panthers opened the second quarter with a 6-0 scoring run to cut Cabot’s lead to 11-6. Cabot scored its first point of the quarter on a free throw by MaKenzie Sexton with 1:38 to play in the half.

Sexton’s free throw put Cabot up 12-6, and she made two more free throws to close the half. Sexton’s final point of the quarter came with 0.5 seconds to play which put Cabot up 14-6 at halftime.

“A win is always good,” said Cabot coach Jeremy Halbrook. “I’m very proud of the first quarter. We came out and went up 11-0. We’d been having an excellent week of practice, and this is our second time around playing this team. So we kind of knew what we were going to see. (Benton’s) scrappy – not very athletic, but they sometimes get you to play scrappy.”

Sexton was the only player to put points on the board for Cabot in the second quarter, but the third quarter was more of a team effort. The result of that was Cabot outscoring Benton 12-4 in the third to take a 26-10 lead at the start of the fourth.

Cabot outrebounded Benton 6-1 and committed just one turnover in that time. The turnaround was pleasing for Halbrook to see.

“The first and third quarters were really good,” Halbrook said. “The second quarter was when we got kind of slow, but a lot of that was being 3 for 7 from the free-throw line, and we couldn’t set up our press or anything. But we’re 3-0 in conference. We have to go to Lake Hamilton next week which will be a tough game, but overall I’m pretty excited with the way they played.”

Benton cut Cabot’s lead to 10 with a 5-1 run to start the final quarter, but the host Lady Panthers got the margin back up to 16 by the end of the game. Calhoon, who led Cabot with a game-high 13 points, scored the final four points down the stretch to set the final score.

Cabot narrowly outrebounded Benton 19-16 and made 55 percent of its free throws compared to Benton’s 29 percent. The most impressive statistic for Cabot was its six total turnovers, bettering Benton’s 16.

Sexton finished the game with seven points. Eifling added five points while Allgood and Rice scored four apiece. The Cabot North freshmen play next at Lake Hamilton on Thursday.

In the game prior to the ninth-grade games, Cabot North’s eighth-grade girls improved to 8-1 on the season with a 20-7 win over Benton. Cabot led by a commanding 16-3 lead after three quarters of play, and Benton managed to clean up the score late.

Haley Sobczak led all scorers in that game with seven points. Josie Starr scored five points and Bethany Hill added four points for Cabot.