Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers finish 3-0

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot girls went a perfect 3-0 in the annual Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic at Panther Arena last week. After beating Vilonia on Thursday, the Lady Panthers beat Nemo Vista on Friday by the final score of 45-32, and on Saturday, the hosts closed the Classic with a 49-28 win over Benton.

With Cabot playing without three-year starter Alyssa Hamilton, who was injured in the first game against Vilonia, Friday’s game was close after the first two quarters. The Lady Panthers led Nemo Vista 8-6 at the end of the first quarter, and outscored the visitors 10-9 in the second quarter to lead 18-15 at halftime.

Cabot was able to get some separation on the scoreboard in the third quarter, as the Lady Panthers outscored Nemo Vista 14-6 in that period to increase their lead to 32-21 at the start of the fourth quarter.

In the final eight minutes, Cabot was able to outscore the visitors by five to secure the double-digit victory. Anna Sullivan led the Lady Panthers in scoring Friday. She had 14 points. Teammate Leighton Taylor also scored in double figures Friday. She had 13 points.

On Saturday, the Lady Panthers jumped out to a big lead in the opening quarter. Cabot led 13-2 toward the end of the quarter, but a long buzzer-beating three by Benton’s Braxton Chumley made the score 13-5 at the end of the first quarter.

Chumley drained another trey at the start of the second quarter to make it a five-point game, but the Lady Panthers closed the half with an 8-2 run to lead 21-10 at the break.

Benton got an inside bucket on the first possession of the second half to cut the Lady Panther lead back to single digits, but Sullivan got that lead back to double digits with a pair of free throws at the 6:09 mark of the third quarter.

The visiting Lady Panthers, though, responded with an 8-0 run that cut the Cabot lead to 23-20. Benton made four of its first six shots in the second half, while Cabot was 0 for 2 shooting with four turnovers during that stretch.

Senior guard Danielle McWilliams, who was all over the place throughout the second half, going after tough rebounds, chasing down and diving for loose balls and forcing turnovers with her stifling defense, broke Cabot’s scoreless streak with a 3-pointer that made it a 26-20 game with 2:18 left in the third period.

McWilliams’ three was the spark the host Lady Panthers needed, as they scored the only other bucket of the quarter on a steal and layup by Sullivan.

Sullivan’s basket at the end of the quarter gave Cabot a 28-20 lead entering the fourth quarter, and the host Lady Panthers opened the final quarter of play with an 8-2 run to lead 36-22.

Benton’s next point was a free throw, but Taylor answered the point scored with an and-1 that pushed Cabot’s lead to 39-23 with 3:52 remaining. CoCo Calhoon put Cabot at the 40-point mark with a free throw with 3:13 to play, and from there, the host team outscored the visitors 9-5 to set the final score.

Cabot scored the final two buckets of the night. The first of which came on a left-handed turnaround basket by junior center Sydney Reedy, and the last points of the game were scored on a transition bucket by Emily McCaghren in the waning seconds.

The host Lady Panthers finished Saturday’s game 19 for 34 from the floor for 56 percent, while the visiting Lady Panthers finished the game 11 for 30 for 37 percent. Cabot outrebounded Benton 18-9, and the hosts finished with 19 turnovers, bettering Benton’s 21 turnovers committed.

Benton’s Tia Brazell led all scorers Saturday with 13 points. Calhoon led Cabot with 12 points. Sullivan had 11, and McWilliams and Taylor scored eight points apiece.

Cabot (8-1) plays at home again at 6 p.m. Friday against Class 5A Paragould.