Friday, December 12, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers pull down Eagles

Leader sportswriter

A 13-0 run to start the second half helped the Cabot boys beat Vilonia 64-43 Thursday night at Panther Arena in the first day of games in the annual Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic.

Cabot led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter, and 27-21 at halftime. But it was in the third quarter that the Panthers (4-1) began to distance themselves from the Class 5A Eagles (5-2).

“We watched film on them and they shoot the ball well,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “They like that three a lot, and one way I challenged our guys was just saying I really believe good defense can take away shooters, and that’s one thing we tried to do with our defense.

“I thought our guys, for the first two-and-a-half quarters, did a real good job. I think that’s what helped get our run. We went to a different matchup at the end because I was concerned about foul trouble.

“We’ve got to get more bodies healthy and stuff, but I was just pleased with our effort all the way around.”

The third quarter began with a corner three by point guard Bobby Joe Duncan and a midrange jumper by teammate Hunter Southerland. Southerland’s basket gave Cabot a double-digit lead with the score 32-21.

Cabot pushed its lead to 15 near the three-minute mark of the third quarter on a putback by Southerland after teammate Jarrod Barnes missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, which made the score 36-21 Panthers.

The Panthers added four more points to their side of the scoreboard to complete the 13-0 run, and Vilonia’s Matthew Stanley broke the Eagles’ scoreless streak with an inside bucket off the glass with 45 seconds left in the quarter.

Cabot, though, answered with a Garrett Rowe basket inside the paint just before time expired, which set the third quarter margin at 42-23. Rowe also scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to push Cabot’s lead to 20-plus, but the Eagles then went on a run of their own.

After Rowe’s basket to start the fourth, Vilonia turned up the pressure on defense and was able to force some Cabot turnovers. The Eagles also started to get hot from the 3-point line, and as a result, they were able to cut the Panther lead to 11, trailing 47-36 with just over four minutes to play.

Bridges called timeout shortly after, and Cabot responded with a 4-0 run after the timeout to push its lead to 15 with just over three minutes to play. With a minute remaining, the Panthers got their lead back to 20 on a transition bucket by Tyler Hill, which made the score 60-40.

After that, Cabot outscored the visitors 4-3 in the waning seconds, setting the point total for the evening.

The Panthers finished the game 26 for 43 from the floor for 60 percent. Vilonia was 16 for 39 from the floor for 41 percent. From 3-point range, Cabot made 3 of 7 attempts for 43 percent, and the Eagles made 8 of 21 attempts for 38 percent.

Cabot outrebounded the taller Eagles 25-14, and had one fewer turnover than Vilonia, who finished with 16.

Cabot sophomore Logan Gilbertson came off the bench to lead all scorers with 15 points, providing an excellent spark for the hosts.

“He was a big lift for us,” Bridges said of Gilbertson. “He’s been working hard for us, and I’m really proud of him. He’s just a 10th-grader and hopefully he’ll keep getting better.”

Southerland finished with 14 points. Rowe scored 13. Jared Dixon had nine points and a game-high eight rebounds. Duncan had six points. Barnes scored five points, and Hill had two.

Cabot played Little Rock Catholic last night after deadlines and the Panthers will close the round-robin tournament tonight against Benton. Tip-off for tonight’s game at Panther Arena is 6:30.