Friday, February 13, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Healthy Cabot defeats Marion

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers got another key player back for Tuesday’s 7A/6A-East home game against Marion, and the Panthers didn’t miss a beat, as they jumped on the Patriots early and beat them by the final score of 57-43.

Cabot guard Jarrod Barnes made his return from a knee injury last week against North Little Rock, and on Tuesday, starting forward Garrett Rowe made his anticipated return to the floor.

Rowe, who had suffered a broken collarbone earlier in the season, came off the bench Tuesday, and entered the game for the first time near the midway point of the opening quarter.

Rowe made an immediate contribution, scoring consecutive buckets that gave the host Panthers an 8-7 lead. Marion didn’t score for the rest of the quarter, and at the end of one, Cabot led 17-7.

“Our group has been getting better, too,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges, “and I think that was evident in the Searcy game. It was evident in the North Little Rock game just having Jarrod. It was good to be able to play Jarrod a little more tonight.

“Hopefully we can get Rowe in better shape, because we know it’s a big one Friday (against West Memphis). It feels real good to have him back out there. At 9:30 (a.m.) he texts me and told me the doctor said it’s all go, and I said ‘alright.’

“He’s been practicing for the last week and a half, but it’s been non-contact. He has done nothing five-on-five until tonight. I told the team, ‘guys, if he gets cleared, he’s going to be playing,’ because I want him to see some game speed before we get to West Memphis.”

By the end of the first half, the Panthers pushed their lead to 29-16. That margin was set on a pair of Rowe free throws with 7.8 seconds remaining in the half.

Cabot made 50 percent of its shots from the floor in the first half, making 10 of 20 shot attempts. Marion, on the other hand, made 23 percent of its shots from the floor on 7 of 31 shooting.

The Panthers’ lead grew to 47-26 by the end of the third quarter. Cabot’s Logan Gilbertson scored the final bucket of the quarter. It was an inside basket with 30 seconds remaining, set up by a Rowe lob pass from the top of the key.

Marion was able to put a short run together near the midway point of the fourth quarter, but the Patriots weren’t able to put much of a dent in Cabot’s already sizable lead.

Cabot led 55-38 with 1:20 left to play, and at that point, both coaches emptied their bench. In the final 1:20, Marion outscored Cabot 5-2, setting the final score.

“It’s good to have them back,” Bridges said. “We’ve just got big things coming up and we know that. Hopefully we’ll be ready to play.”

The Panthers finished the game 21 of 39 from the floor for 54 percent. The Patriots finished 17 of 56 from the floor for 30 percent. From the free-throw line, Cabot made 8 of 14 shots for 57 percent, while Marion made 4 of 10 shots for 40 percent.

From the 3-point line, Cabot made 7 of 12 shots for 58 percent. Marion, conversely, made 5 of 20 shots from beyond the arc for 25 percent.

Cabot outrebounded Marion 28-25, but the Panthers had more turnovers, committing 24 to the Patriots’ total of 17.

Panther forward Hunter Southerland led all scorers with 22 points. He also had 10 rebounds, giving him a double-double. Rowe was Cabot’s second-leading scorer Tuesday. He had nine points, and added eight rebounds and three steals.

Laquan Davie led Marion (9-12, 5-4) with 14 points. He was the lone Patriot to score in double figures.

The Panthers (12-9, 2-7) played another 7A/6A-East game at West Memphis last night after deadlines, and they’ll play another crucial conference game next Tuesday at home against Little Rock Central. Next Tuesday’s varsity games at Panther Arena will begin at 6 p.m. with the girls taking the floor first.