Friday, February 14, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers better at Marion

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot boys’ and girls’ basketball teams each won their 7A/6A East Conference games at Marion on Tuesday. The Panthers, who lost to Marion at home in their first meeting this season, won the rematch 56-48, and the Lady Panthers put together a solid third quarter en route to a 62-46 decision, their second win over the Lady Patriots this season.

The Cabot boys (14-7, 5-4), according to coach Jerry Bridges, played one of their worst games of the season in their first meeting with Marion, and as a result, the Patriots won that game by double digits.

Cabot made some defensive adjustments for Tuesday’s rematch, which gave the host team some problems, but the Panthers’ biggest improvement from their first meeting with the Patriots was on the boards.

“The main thing was we rebounded,” said Bridges. “We outrebounded them, and the first time we played them we had one rebound at the half.”

Cabot led at the end of each quarter. The Panthers led 15-10 at the end of the first eight minutes, and pushed their lead to 24-16 at halftime. The two teams played evenly in the second half as each scored 16 points in the third and fourth quarters, which gave Cabot a 40-32 lead at the end of three, and the eventual eight-point win once the fourth quarter came to a close.

“I just thought we played with good balance like we’ve been playing with,” Bridges said. “We stepped up and hit our free throws in the fourth quarter so they could never make that gap on us. I give our kids credit. They do a good job of getting everybody involved, and we’re doing a better job of executing. It’s been a team effort every game.”

Jake Ferguson led the Panthers offensively with 14 points. Hunter York scored 13 points. Hunter Southerland had 12. Nick Thomas and Adolfo Iglesias each scored six points, and Jared Dixon had four points.

The girls’ game was tight through the first two quarters of action as the score was tied 22-22 at halftime, but the Lady Panthers (12-11, 3-6) outscored the host Lady Patriots 20-6 in the third quarter to lead 42-28 at the start of the fourth.

Cabot scored 20 points again in the fourth quarter, but allowed Marion to score 18 points in that time, setting the final score. The Lady Panthers got into foul trouble early in the game as they had nine team fouls by the end of the first half. Marion had just one.

With the game tied at 22 at the break, and some of the Lady Panther starters in early foul trouble, it was emphasized by the Cabot players and coaching staff at halftime the importance of playing a solid third quarter.

“Our kids for the first time I’ve heard them this year talked about let’s have a good third quarter,” said Cabot girls’ assistant coach Charles Ruple. “Let’s have a good third quarter and let’s set the tone. We had several kids that were in some foul trouble in the first half.

“I really think we just changed our attitude. We didn’t change the style of defense we were playing or where we were attacking on the floor. They just had a little more sense of urgency. I think it was a mental change as much as anything.”

Four different Lady Panthers finished the game in double figures. Anna Sullivan led the way with 14 points. Alyssa Hamilton had 12, and guards Danielle McWilliams and Leighton Taylor scored 10 points apiece.

Both Cabot teams played host to Mountain Home last night in more conference action, and will resume 7A/6A East play at Little Rock Central on Tuesday. The girls will tip-off Tuesday at 6 p.m., and the boys’ game will follow at 7:30.