Friday, November 27, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers defeat Wampus Cats

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot boys trailed by four with just over six minutes to play in their nonconference game against Conway on Tuesday night at Panther Arena, but the Panthers responded with a 9-0 run to take the lead for good and made all 16 of their free throws in the fourth quarter to beat the Wampus Cats 63-55.

Conway led 45-41 with 6:08 to play, but Cabot 6-foot-8 junior forward Matt Stanley led the 9-0 run that followed, scoring six of those nine points to give the Panthers a 50-45 lead. That run was capped with Stanley’s crowd-pleasing, two-hand slam with 4:14 remaining.

With 2:12 to play, Conway cut the Cabot lead to 52-50 on a 3-pointer by Junior Williams. Unfortunately for the Wampus Cats, that was as close as they’d get to catching Cabot.

The Panthers’ lead grew to seven on a pair of free throws by point guard Bobby Joe Duncan. That made the score 59-52 with 51.2 seconds left. With 35.8 tics remaining, Conway made it a four-point game with a Jamaal Clifton three, which made it 59-55.

Cabot ended the game with a pair of free throws each by Logan Gilbertson and Stanley. Stanley’s set the final score with 6.7 seconds left.

Cabot (3-0) has gotten off to a great start this season. The Panthers began the season with two mercy-rule wins over Little Rock Catholic and Fort Smith Southside before holding off Conway (0-2), a team that’s gotten the better of Cabot on the hardwood in recent years.

“We’ve got to get over what’s on the front of their jerseys and I think maybe tonight we did a little bit,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “I thought last year we had a good chance to beat them (Conway), and we didn’t.

“I don’t think we played one of our better games, but they were very well-prepared for what we like to do. The big boy (Stanley) definitely showed up tonight and played well for us.”

Stanley finished Tuesday with a game-high 28 points. Fifteen of those points came in the fourth quarter, and nine of those fourth-quarter points came at the free-throw line. Cabot went a perfect 16 for 16 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, and finished the game 28 of 36 from the stripe for 78 percent.

“In the fourth quarter we had a good run at it, or we wouldn’t have won that game,” Bridges said of his team’s free-throw shooting.

Cabot led 8-2 to start the game, but by the end of the quarter, Conway cut the Panthers’ lead down to 12-9. Conway tied the game at 12-12 early in the second quarter, but Cabot put together a pair of successful runs and led 28-20 at halftime.

At the midway point of the third quarter, Cabot led 34-27 on a well-timed alley-oop from Duncan to Stanley, who threw down the perfect pass from the perimeter with a two-hand slam. Conway, though, dominated the rest of the third quarter and took a 40-38 lead into the fourth.

The Panthers finished the game 16 for 39 from the floor for 41 percent. Conway also shot 41 percent from the floor on 19 of 46 shooting. From the free-throw line, the Wampus Cats made 13 of 21 shot attempts for 62 percent.

In addition to Stanley, Hunter Southerland also scored in double figures for Cabot. He had 14 points.

Clifton led Conway with 15 points. Kendarious Smith added 11 for the Wampus Cats and teammate Prentice Mullins added nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.