Tuesday, February 12, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers fall, boys win on road

Leader sports editor

Cabot’s late-season surge continued at Mountain Home on Friday as the Panthers coasted to a 47-30 victory over the Bombers, led by another strong defensive performance. The win also gave the Panthers (9-12, 4-6) a season sweep over Mountain Home in 7A/6A East Conference play.

“I don’t want to jinx us but we’re playing better,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “We shot the ball better and I feel like we have a chance to win a few of these games left. The more we win the more chance we have of improving our seed in the state tournament.”

Senior post player Michael Smith led the Panthers with 20 points. Cabot was 15 of 19 from the foul line for the game, including a perfect 12 of 12 in the final eight minutes, and came back from a nine-point deficit in the opening quarter to lead 25-20 at the half. The Panthers extended their lead into double digits late in the third quarter, and held the Bombers to just 10 points in the entire second half.

Kyle Thielemier added nine points for Cabot while senior point guard Bryan Shrum had six points. Senior forward Clayton Vaught finished with five points, with three for Hunter York and two each for Adolpho Iglesias and Ryan Stafford.

The playoffs are not yet a certainty for Cabot. North Little Rock is undefeated and Fort Smith Northside is 8-2. Every other 7A team in the 7A/6A East and Central conferences have four wins or fewer. Cabot, Conway and West Memphis are all 4-6. Little Rock Central is 3-7, Catholic is 2-8 and Fort Smith Southside is 1-9.

Cabot hosted Central last night in a crucial game for both teams. The Tigers beat Cabot by two points at Central two weeks ago. After that the Panthers host West Memphis then travel to Jonesboro and Searcy next week to close league play.

“Jonesboro is going to be tough at their place,” Bridges said. “We know that, we’ve talked about it. But every win we get from here on out just betters our chance at a higher seed. We went a long time without ever making the playoffs and right now we’re going for our fifth or sixth straight appearance. We just want to keep winning as much as we can and establish more and more tradition.”

The Lady Panthers were not as fortunate and fell to the Lady Bombers 50-48 in overtime Friday.

The thriller served as redemption for Mountain Home after a 22-point loss to Cabot two weeks ago at Panther Arena. The Lady Bombers improved to 16-7 overall and 6-4 in 7A/6A East Conference play while the Lady Panthers fell to 13-7 overall and 6-4 in conference play.

Cabot led the entire way until the Lady Bombers pulled ahead for the first time midway through the fourth quarter.

Mountain Home led 49-45 with less than a minute to play in overtime when senior Jaylin Bridges hit a three-point basket to make it a one-point game. The Lady Bombers added a free throw to set the final margin before Cabot missed on a pair of close-range shots to end it.

Senior Elliot Taylor led Cabot with 14 points while Bridges added 12 points. Ally Van Enk had eight points while Danielle McWilliams and Alyssa Hamilton each finished with six points for the Lady Panthers. Katie Kapler led all scorers for Mountain Home with 23 points.

Despite the winning record, the Lady Panthers still have some work to do to get into the playoffs. Little Rock Central is the only undefeated team in the East or Central. Northside is in second place at 8-2.

North Little Rock and West Memphis are tied for third at 7-3. Southside and Cabot are at 6-4 and three games ahead of seventh place Conway, who is 3-7. Mount St. Mary’s in 1-9 and mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

If the Lady Panthers win just two of their last four, they will lock up a playoff spot, but they must avoid a tie with Conway because the Lady Wampus Cats hold the tiebreaker by virtue of their win over Cabot in December.