Tuesday, February 02, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot hot early at SHS

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot boys dominated the first quarter of Friday night’s 7A/6A-East Conference game at Searcy, and it helped the Panthers cruise to a 66-45 win over the Lions.

Searcy (3-14, 0-6) was held scoreless in the first quarter, and even though the Lions’ shots weren’t falling in the first eight minutes, the Panthers’ defense had a lot to do with that. On the other end, Cabot (13-6, 4-3) scored 17 points in the first quarter to lead 17-0 at the start of the second.

“It’s good to do that on the road,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges of the first quarter, “because you worry about Searcy coming out and hitting shots. One (Jeremiah Clifton) is a good player and 10 (Michael Money) is a very good player. So it was good to have that 17-0 run.

“The one thing you have to preach against is don’t get complacent, because it’s not over. In the second quarter they hit four threes and cut it down to nine.”

All four of Searcy’s field goals in the second quarter were threes. Two were made by Money. His second three made the score 24-13 with 3:17 left in the half and a pair of free throws by teammate Dustin Manues made it a nine-point game, with the score 24-15.

Cabot guard Jarrod Barnes added the final basket of the half on a contested layup down the middle of the lane with three seconds remaining, setting the halftime score at 26-15.

Panther forwards Matt Stanley and Garrett Rowe made a pair of buckets that pushed the Cabot lead to 30-16 early in the third quarter, and Stanley added two free throws and a transition basket that made it a 15-point game, with the score 34-19.

Searcy again got the lead down to nine toward the end of the third quarter, but consecutive threes by Cabot’s Bobby Joe Duncan and Jalen Brown made the score 44-29 at the start of the fourth.

Twenty-six seconds into the fourth, Stanley converted an and-1 that made the score 47-29, and by the 5:30 mark, Cabot’s lead grew to 53-31 on a pair of threes by Jared Vance and Brown.

The Panthers’ largest lead was 58-34, and that margin was set on a corner three by senior Kenny Fowler with 4:15 left to play. Fowler added a free throw with 3:05 remaining, which made the score 59-38, and each team added seven points down the stretch to set the final point totals.

“I thought we responded well in the second half,” Bridges said. “I thought we looked real good in spurts. We’ve just got to put it together the whole game. But it’s good to have a game where everybody gets an opportunity to play, because everybody works hard in practice.”

Cabot finished Friday’s win 24 for 42 from the floor for 57 percent. Searcy was 14 for 37 from the floor for 38 percent. From the free-throw line, the Panthers were 12 for 20 and the Lions were 10 for 17. From 3-point range, Cabot made 6 of 14 attempts and Searcy made 7 of 17 attempts.

The Panthers had double the rebounds as Searcy did, outrebounding the Lions 26-13, and Cabot won the turnover category 11-18.

Stanley led Cabot with 15 points. Duncan and Brown each scored eight points, Hunter Southerland scored seven and Vance, Barnes and Chandler Casteel scored five points apiece.

Money led all scorers with 18 points and he was the only Lion that scored in double figures.