Saturday, February 27, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> CHS girls beat JHS, advance into state

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot girls got a 44-36 win over Jonesboro in Tuesday’s 7A/6A-East Conference game at Panther Arena, and did so without making a shot from the floor in the fourth quarter.

Though the Lady Panthers (18-11, 7-6) went without a field goal in the final eight minutes, they went 16 for 18 from the free-throw line in that time to pull away for the conference victory. Jonesboro (16-12, 6-7) made just 2 of 2 free throws the entire game, with both attempts coming in the fourth quarter.

Tuesday’s conference game against the Class 6A Hurricane had no bearing as far as Cabot’s playoff hopes, but North Little Rock’s 65-31 win over West Memphis on Tuesday guaranteed the Lady Panthers a spot in next week’s Class 7A state tournament at Panther Arena.

In the first quarter, Jonesboro jumped out to an 8-4 lead. Cabot tied it at 8-8. The game-tying bucket was a putback by CoCo Calhoon after a miss by teammate Anna Sullivan with 48 seconds left in the quarter, but Jonesboro leading scorer Starr Taylor added the final basket of the quarter on a midrange jumper, giving the visitors a 10-8 lead at the start of the second quarter.

Jonesboro extended its lead to 15-10 at the 5:18 mark of the second quarter on a corner three by Donita Webb, but Cabot scored the next six points, the last five coming on back-to-back possessions – a three by Rachel Allgood and a Calhoon steal and transition layup with 2:29 left in the half.

Calhoon’s basket put the hosts up 16-15, and the Lady Panthers held a five-point lead at halftime, with the score 20-15. Cabot made three of its first four shots in the third quarter, with the third basket coming from inside the paint by Calhoon with 4:16 left in the period.

That gave Cabot a 26-21 lead, and the Lady Panthers added the final points of the third quarter on a Haley Sobczak putback after a Calhoon miss with 2:07 left in the period.

Jonesboro had the final possession of the third quarter, but Cabot’s stifling half-court defense didn’t allow the Hurricane to get a shot off, and the Lady Panthers took a 28-21 lead into the fourth quarter.

Cabot led by as much as 35-21 in the fourth quarter, but Jonesboro clawed its way back into the game with a 15-4 run. That run was capped with a Taylor and-1 with 1:28 to play, and it cut the Lady Panthers’ lead to 39-36.

Jonesboro didn’t score again, and Cabot’s Leighton Taylor, Madi Nichols and Josie Vanoss combined to make 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch, setting the final score and sealing the win for Cabot.

The Lady Panthers finished the game 12 for 36 from the floor for 33 percent. The Hurricane made 15 of 36 shots from the floor for 42 percent. The difference was at the free-throw line, where Cabot made 19 of 23 attempts.

Cabot narrowly outrebounded Jonesboro 17-16, and the Lady Panthers had fewer turnovers, 16, to the Hurricane’s 20 committed. Nine of those 20 turnovers were Cabot steals.

Leighton Taylor led Cabot with 11 points. Nichols added seven points, while Calhoon and Vanoss added six apiece. Starr Taylor led all scorers with 21 points. The next-highest scorer for Jonesboro was Webb, who had seven points.