Friday, December 05, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers get past England in tussle

Leader sportswriter

Class 2A England gave Cabot all it wanted in their nonconference game at Panther Arena on Tuesday, but the host team prevailed in the end, beating the more athletic Lions by the final score of 45-35.

England (1-2), who advanced to the Class 2A semifinals last year before losing to eventual state champion Cedar Ridge, held a 6-5 lead over the Class 7A Panthers at the end of the first quarter.

The Panthers (2-1) trailed 6-3 until sophomore guard Jarrod Barnes set the first quarter margin with a left-handed finger roll with about 40 seconds remaining in the quarter.

Fifteen seconds into the second quarter, Cabot took a 7-6 lead on an inside turnaround bucket by Hunter Southerland, which sparked a 7-0run by the Panthers.

The run was capped with a transition bucket by Garrett Rowe near the six-minute mark, and that gave Cabot a 12-6 lead.

England later cut the Panther lead to two, trailing 14-12, with four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the half, but the hosts responded with a 6-2 run that was capped with a steal and slam by Barnes at the 2:30 mark.

Both teams added a basket before the half, which sent the Panthers into halftime with a 22-16 lead. Cabot’s defense set the tone in the first half, as the Panthers forced England to commit 15 turnovers in the first two quarters.

Ten of the Lions’ 15 first-half turnovers were Cabot takeaways, and the rest were charges taken by the Panthers. Barnes and point guard Bobby Joe Duncan each had three steals in that time, while Southerland had two, and Rowe and Jared Dixon had one apiece.

The turnovers allowed Cabot to get more than double the shots England had in the first half. Cabot was 10 for 30 from the floor in the first half, and the Lions were 6 of 13. Even with more than double the attempts, though, the Panthers only had a six-point lead at the break.

“We outshot them two to one on attempts, but we’ve got to make baskets,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “We’re going to get there. We were stepping up and taking charges.

“We aren’t afraid to take a hit, and if you’re going to play against teams that are more athletic than you, in most cases, you’ve got to do that. Like I said, we’re getting there. It’s not pretty. We’re not blowing out anybody. Even if it’s someone you think we should blow out, we aren’t right now.

“We’re going to have to work for it, keep grinding, but you’ve got to give England credit. They didn’t come in here scared to play a big school. They played ball, and I knew they would.”

The Lions opened the second half with a 4-0 run that trimmed the Panthers’ lead to two, 22-20, but the Panthers answered with a 6-0 run on baskets by Tyler Hill, Southerland and Rowe.

By the end of the third quarter, Cabot pushed its lead to double digits with the score 33-22. The final points of the quarter came on a 3-pointer by Barnes with 38 seconds remaining.

In the final eight minutes, the Lions got within five points of the Panther lead on two occasions. The first came with 3:54 to play on a corner three by Lajuan Jackson that made the score 36-31.

Cabot added two more points to its side of the board before Jackson made two free throws near the three-minute mark, which made the score 38-33 Panthers. England, though, couldn’t get any closer the rest of the way.

The Lions were forced to foul as the game wound down, but the host team made their free throws, finishing the quarter 8 of 10 from the free-throw line. Duncan made five of those free throws, and his last two pushed the Panther lead back to double digits, and set the final score in the process, with 26.7 seconds to play.

Cabot outrebounded England 30-24, and the Panthers finished the game 17 of 56 from the floor for 30 percent. The Lions made 12 of 33 shots for 36 percent. The Panthers finished the game with 14 turnovers. The Lions committed 22 for the game.

Jackson led all scorers with 13 points. Barnes led Cabot with 12 points. Southerland and Duncan each scored nine. Rowe had seven. Dixon scored six, and Hill rounded out the Panthers’ point total with two points.

The Panthers will begin hosting the Cabot Pre-Holiday Tournament at 7 p.m. Thursday against Hot Springs Lakeside.