Friday, December 11, 2015

SPORTS >> Cabot overcomes droughts

Leader sports editor

The Cabot boys’ basketball team found itself in a battle at home Tuesday night with a team it beat easily on the road a few weeks ago. Coming off its first loss of the season last Friday to Springdale, Cabot continued to struggle, especially offensively, but managed to score the game’s last six points and win 37-31 over Catholic High.

The game was Cabot’s opening one in the Pre-Holiday Classic that’s been taking place this week at Panther Arena, and finishes today, but it was nothing like the 57-27 whipping the Panthers gave the Rockets in Little Rock to open the season.

Cabot coach Jerry Bridges was not pleased after the game, despite the victory.

“We didn’t play very good,” said Bridges. “We didn’t play anywhere near the level I think we’re capable of, and that’s why I’m so disappointed. If it weren’t for Bobby Joe (Duncan) having a good night and playing really well for us, we probably lose this game.”

Cabot did appear to take control early, and built a 21-12 lead about halfway through the second quarter, and that’s when the offensive struggles began.

Catholic pulled to within 21-18 with just seconds left in the half. Phillip Wynne hit a 3-pointer for Cabot with about five seconds remaining. He then got a steal and flung up a 30-footer that went in, but was ruled to have been released after the buzzer, leaving the score 24-18 at halftime.

Wynne’s 3-pointer was Cabot’s only basket from the midway point of the second quarter to the 1:15 mark of the third. Halfway through the third quarter, Cabot had taken only two shot attempts. But Catholic also struggled offensively, and was only able to score six points during the Panthers’ third-quarter drought, tying the game at 24-24 with 2:39 remaining on two free throws by Noah Bashan.

Duncan scored Cabot’s first basket of the third quarter with 1:15 left to give the Panthers a 26-24 lead, but Catholic point guard Chad Wharton took the inbound pass and went the distance of the court before dishing to 6-foot-8 post player Brian Beckwith for an easy layup.

Duncan then hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left in the third to send the Panthers into the final period with a 29-26 lead.

Catholic missed both ends of a two-shot trip to the free-throw line, and the front end of a one-and-one to start the fourth quarter. Duncan hit a running 12-footer to put the Panthers up by five with 6:30 left in the game. That was Cabot’s last goal before another four-minute scoring drought saw the Rockets come back and tie the game. Wharton’s 3-pointer with 3:40 left made the score 31-31, and Catholic failed to score again the rest of the game.

With 2:40 left, Duncan penetrated and dished to Hunter Southerland for an easy layup that made it 33-31. Jalen Brown then got a steal for Cabot, but the Wharton drew a five-second violation on Duncan. Bridges vehemently protested to the call, and to some avail. Catholic got its own five-second violation just 10 seconds later, giving the Panthers the ball back with one minute remaining.

Cabot held the ball until Duncan was fouled with 12 seconds left. He hit both ends of a one-and-one trip to the line, and then got a steal and layup to set the final margin.

Duncan led all players with 15 points. He also had three steals and three assists. Southerland scored 10 for the Panthers while Beckwith led Catholic with 12 points.

Cabot went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line while Catholic hit just 2 of 7. Cabot hit 14 of 41 shots from the floor, including 5 of 19 3-point attempts. Catholic was 13 of 32 overall and 2 of 8 from outside. The Rockets outrebounded the Panthers 18-16.