Friday, December 12, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls win tussle with VHS

Leader sportswriter

The annual Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic tipped off Thursday at Panther Arena, and the host Lady Panthers didn’t disappoint, as they handed Class 5A Vilonia its first loss of the season, winning by the final score of 49-41.

Cabot’s press defense was highly effective in the early goings. Cabot scored the first five points of the game, the first four of which being scored by Anna Sullivan after a pair of Vilonia turnovers.

Alyssa Hamilton scored the fifth point for the Lady Panthers (6-1) to make it a 5-0 game, but the Lady Eagles (6-1) were able to battle back and eventually tie the game at 7-7.

Even though the Lady Eagles had some costly turnovers early, they made their first four shots from the floor, and at the end of the first quarter, the score was tied at 15-15.

The second quarter was back and forth, but the Lady Panthers went into halftime with a 24-21 lead. Cabot held a one-point lead as the half came to a close, but was able to push that lead to three on a short jumper in the middle of the lane by senior guard Danielle McWilliams.

McWilliams’ bucket sailed over 6-foot center Sydney Wader with seven seconds remaining, which set the halftime margin.

Cabot opened the second half with a 4-0 run, thanks to a pair of buckets by Sullivan and Leighton Taylor. The Lady Panthers led 31-24 near the midway point of the third quarter, but Vilonia went on a 6-0 run to cut the Cabot lead to one.

It helped the Lady Eagles that Sullivan had to sit a little more than half of the quarter after she picked up her fourth foul at the 4:36 mark, and senior center Alyssa Hamilton was knocked out of the game with 28 seconds left in the quarter after she took an elbow to the face. No foul was called on the play.

Hamilton left the floor on her own accord, but didn’t return. Cabot led 35-30 when Hamilton left the game, and that was the score heading into the final quarter.

More than two minutes passed before the first point of the fourth quarter was scored. That point was scored by Sullivan. She made the second free throw on a two-shot foul, which gave Cabot a 36-30 lead with 5:43 to play.

The Lady Panthers pushed their lead to eight at the 4:53 mark on a pair of free throws by CoCo Calhoon, which made the score 40-32. Sullivan fouled out shortly after, and the Lady Eagles got the Cabot lead down to six with less than two minutes to play, but they couldn’t get any closer.

Having to foul as the game came to a close, Vilonia put Cabot’s Rachel Allgood on the line, and she drained a pair of free throws with 35.5 seconds remaining, which gave Cabot its first double-digit lead of the game with the score 48-38.

Cabot added another free throw late to set its point total for the evening, and Vilonia cleaned up the score with a long 3-pointer by leading scorer Cassidy McNespey with 16 tics remaining, which also set the final score.

The Lady Panthers finished the game 17 for 39 from the floor for 44 percent. Conversely, the Lady Eagles made 13 of 29 shots for 45 percent. At the free-throw line, Cabot was 15 for 28 for 54 percent. Vilonia made 10 of 14 free throws for 71 percent.

Cabot outrebounded the taller Lady Eagles 20-15, and the Lady Panthers finished with eight turnovers, bettering Vilonia’s 19 turnovers committed.

McNespey led all scorers with 26 points. Hamilton, despite not playing the fourth quarter, led Cabot with 10 points. She also had eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

Sullivan and McWilliams each scored nine points for Cabot. Taylor scored eight. Calhoon added five. Allgood scored four points, and teammates Chloe Bean and Carly Melder had two points apiece.

The Lady Panthers played Nemo Vista last night after deadlines, and they’ll close the round-robin tournament against Benton at 5:30 p.m. today at Panther Arena.