Friday, January 24, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers bounce Central

Leader sportswriter

Cabot’s stellar shot selection helped the Panthers build a 15-point halftime lead over Little Rock Central in Tuesday’s 7A/6A East matchup at Panther Arena, and sophomore forward Garrett Rowe helped thwart any comeback attempt by the Tigers in the second half, as the host team won convincingly, 59-37.

The first half of Tuesday’s game was a three-point frenzy, as the two teams combined to make 10 threes in the first two quarters of play.

Hunter York, Nick Thomas and Jeremiah Penner each made two three-pointers in the opening half to help Cabot to a 6 for 11 showing from beyond the arc. Central’s Sean Carrouthers hit 3 of 4 threes for the Tigers, who finished the half 4 for 10 from three-point range.

The difference in the half was that Central (5-8, 1-3) made just one two-point field goal and Cabot (11-5, 2-2) made six, equaling its number of three-point field goals. Cabot finished the first half 12 of 20 from the floor for 60 percent. Central finished the half 5 of 23 from the floor for 22 percent.

It was a close game after a quarter of play, but the Panthers still led, 15-13. Cabot’s high shooting percentage made the difference in the second quarter, as the host team took a 32-17 lead into halftime.

“We were 62 percent at Mountain Home Friday,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “We usually take pretty good shots and it was pretty distributed. Jeremiah, he sparked us in that second quarter when he came in and hit those two threes for us. This team, we love that kid. He’s a fun kid and when he does well they seem to respond.

“I thought it was a good team effort. We shot well and I thought we rebounded better. We didn’t rebound last week. And I think our young ones are growing up and getting better, too.”

Cabot outrebounded Central 25-16 for the game. The Tigers opened the second half with an 8-4 run, which cut the Panthers’ lead to 36-25, but that was close as the visitors would get the rest of the way.

The Panthers led 43-29 at the end of the third quarter, and junior two-guard Jake Ferguson drained a three-pointer at the start of the fourth to push Cabot’s lead to 17, leading 46-29. The majority of Cabot’s highlights in the second half though, came from Rowe, who scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in quarters three and four.

Rowe made three free throws early in the fourth quarter that helped push the Panthers’ lead to 19, and got a big-time putback with 3:42 to play that put Cabot up 21, leading 53-32. Rowe hasn’t missed a shot from the field in the last two games. He went 6 for 6 from the floor in last week’s win over Mountain Home, and finished 7 for 7 from the floor Tuesday.

“He had 16 the other night at Mountain Home,” Bridges said of his sophomore forward. “He’s coming on and he’s catching up to the game now. He’s getting used to what we do and what we expect out of him, but I think we’re coming together well and understanding what we do and we’re understanding each other better, too.”

Cabot finished the game 21 of 41 from the floor for 51 percent, bettering Central’s 13 of 41 showing for 32 percent. The Panthers also shot well at the free-throw and three-point lines. Cabot made 8 of 16 shots from three-point range for 50 percent, and made 9 of 12 from the line for 75 percent.

Conversely, the Tigers made 6 of 17 from beyond the arc for 35 percent, and 5 of 15 from the stripe for a less than stellar 33 percent.

Carrouthers led all scorers with 20 points. Rowe was the only Panther to finish in double figures, but seven more Panthers contributed to the scoring efforts.

York finished with eight points. Thomas, Penner, Adolfo Iglesias and Hunter Southerland each scored six points. Michael Smith scored four and Ferguson added three points.

The Panthers continued conference play last night at home against West Memphis. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader. The Cabot boys will resume 7A/6A East play on the road Tuesday at Jonesboro. Tip-off Tuesday starts at approximately 7:30 p.m.