Wednesday, February 18, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot triumphs in fourth against Lady Blue Devils

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers overcame a bad first quarter to pull off a big road win at West Memphis on Friday, 41-32. In the first meeting between the two teams at Panther Arena in early January, Cabot jumped out to a big lead and then held off a furious Blue Devil rally.

On Friday, the Lady Panthers (20-5, 8-2) scored four points in the first quarter, and led for just a few seconds the entire first half.

The slow offensive start was alleviated by good defense. West Memphis held just a 7-4 lead at the end of the first. Neither team scored for about two minutes before West Memphis went on a 7-0 run. Cabot answered with one free throw by Alyssa Hamilton, and didn’t make a field goal until the final minute of the quarter when Danielle McWilliams scored and was fouled to make it 7-4.

Lady Blue Devil Alexis Hamlet drained a 3-pointer to start the second period. McWilliams and CoCo Calhoon combined for a 6-0 run that tied the game half way through the period and the teams were tied three more times before the half. Cabot led briefly when Leighton Taylor hit a 3-pointer to make it 16-15, but LaShala Saine answered just seconds later. McWilliams added a free throw to send the game into halftime tied at 17.

Cabot also led briefly in the third quarter on a 3-point play by Calhoon. But Hamlet answered quickly before the game fell back into a defensive battle. The Lady Blue Devils (15-8, 5-5) took a 28-26 lead into the final frame, and that’s when Cabot took control.

McWilliams hit a 3-pointer to start the quarter before Hamlet answered to make it 30-29. After three free throws by Cabot, Hamlet scored again to tie it at 32 with six minutes remaining, and it was the last bucket the Lady Blue Devils would score.

Cabot’s game-ending 9-0 run started with a pair of foul shots by Alyssa Hamilton. Josie Vanoss rebounded a West Memphis missed three and Taylor was fouled in transition. She also made both free throws to make it 36-32.

West Memphis coach Sheila Burns then called two full and one 30-second timeout consecutively, partly to regroup her team and partly to express her displeasure of the officiating, but it was for naught.

On the ensuing possession, Taylor deflected a Blue Devil pass in the half court set, Calhoon picked up the deflected ball and raced in for a layup that made it 38-32 with three minutes remaining. On the very next possession, McWilliams got a steal and was fouled in transition. She made 1 of 2 foul shots. Calhoon got the rebound but it was stolen by Niyha Townsend. She passed to Hamlet who was fouled by Hamilton, but missed the front end of the one-and-one. Taylor later added two free throws to set the final margin.

McWilliams and Calhoon combined for 23 points and nine steals, with McWilliams leading the way with 12 and six respectively. It was a night when defense was needed. The Lady Panthers shot just 29 percent (10 for 35) from floor.