Tuesday, December 20, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot pulls away from Titans

Leader sports editor

What would a Cabot vs. Jacksonville game be without a little contention? It may have been six years since the two boys’ basketball teams had met, but the rivalry picked up right where it left off, only this time the Panthers reversed the outcome.

The defending Class 7A state champions knocked off the Titans 73-53 Friday at Panther Arena in a game that featured 54 personal and four technical fouls.

“I wish they would have let the kids play a little bit more,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “There wasn’t any flow to the game like you like to see in basketball. But I thought our kids defended really well. And then when we finally started making some shots in the third quarter we were able to pull away. Jalen Brown stepped up and got us going offensively.

“But Victor (Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner) is a good basketball coach and he had those guys ready.”

Joyner was a bit more direct with his assessment of the officiating.

“They ruined a good basketball game,” Joyner said. “Jacksonville vs. Cabot, this should’ve been a good basketball game. But we never got to play any basketball. We practiced inbounds plays and shot free throws for two hours.”

The first delay came before tip-off when the officiating crew didn’t like the game ball, and had the Cabot coaches get a different one out of the equipment room.

Neither team started well offensively. Jacksonville had three turnovers on its first three possessions, but also held Cabot scoreless.

The first points of the game came when Cabot’s Matt Stanley hit two free throws 86 seconds into the game. After a Jacksonville miss, Stanley flashed through the lane after Logan Gilbertson missed and slammed home a putback for a 4-0 Cabot lead.

Jacksonville’s Kavion Waller hit two free throws with 4:53 left for the Titans’ first points of the game.

Cabot (8-1) led 8-5 with three minutes left in the period, but Jacksonville closed the first quarter on a 10-1 run and took a 15-9 lead into the second quarter. Jacksonville was already in the double bonus by the 2:04 mark of the first quarter, and Cabot wasn’t far behind. The Panthers were shooting two foul shots just seconds into the second quarter.

The Titan lead was up to 17-10 when Cabot’s first of two six-free-throw possessions took place.

Waller was called for a personal foul while jockeying with Gilbertson, and then for a technical for apparently continuing to shove after the whistle.

Gilbertson made all four free throws with 6:16 left in the second quarter, and then was fouled just seconds after the ball was thrown in on the ensuing possession. He made 1 of 2 on that trip to pull Cabot to within 17-15.

Jacksonville (7-4) stretched the lead back to 24-18 on a 3-pointer by Tyree Appleby, who was playing with a sprained ankle. Cabot then got a 2-pointer by Noah Allgood and a 3-pointer by Jared Vance to make the score 24-23.

Jacksonville’s DaJuan Ridgeway then scored the final four points of the half to send the Titans into the locker room with a 28-23 lead.

Appleby hit a 3-pointer 10 seconds into the second quarter to give Jacksonville its biggest lead of the game, but he picked up his third foul just 11 seconds later and didn’t play the rest of the period.

The Panthers went with pressure at that point and caused a series of Jacksonville turnovers. Brown dived to the floor to knock a ball loose that Jacksonville appeared to have corralled. That led to a fastbreak dunk by Stanley, who was then hit with a technical foul for taunting.

The free throws put Jacksonville up 35-30, but Cabot closed the quarter with a 22-10 run.

It started with a 3-pointer by Brown, and Bobby Joe Duncan followed with a steal and a layup that tied the game with 3:21 left in the third.

Jacksonville’s Harderrious Martin answered with a 3-pointer, but Brown came right back with another one to make it 38-38. Brown’s third 3-pointer of the run gave Cabot it’s first lead since the first quarter with 1:55 left in the third.

Another Jacksonville turnover led to free throws by Duncan and a five-point Cabot lead.

At 44-40 Cabot, the Panthers got their second six-free-throw possession with 36 seconds to go.

The first came when the Titans checked in a player wearing a different number from what was listed in the official scorebook. Joyner was then hit with a technical while at the scorer’s table, and he hotly disputes the referee’s decision.

“I was up there talking to the scorebook guy and the referee comes in there and just starts yelling at me,” Joyner said. “We were getting things straightened out, and he’s the one that came there and escalated everything. He was completely disrespectful.”

Cabot made all four free throws, and then got two more when Brylin Estes was called for a foul before the ball was thrown inbounds. The Panthers made 1 of 2 to take a 49-40, and Brown made his fourth 3-pointer of the quarter to send the home team into the final period with a 12-point lead.

“That was a turning point,” Joyner said. “It’s a four-point game with 30 seconds left. They get six free throws and the ball back, and now we’re down 12 in the fourth quarter.”

Bridges noted how the game was being called and decided early to just keep quiet.

“There was one point where they called 10 straight fouls on us in that first quarter,” Bridges said. “I didn’t see what happened on any of those technicals. I didn’t see what the Jacksonville kid did. Matt told me all he said was ‘let’s go’. They were just real touchy tonight and I just told myself I better just sit down and stay out of it. But it’s frustrating. I know Victor is frustrated, too.”

Appleby re-entered to start the fourth quarter, but again played for just one minute before sitting the rest of the game. He suffered a high ankle sprain six days earlier, and Joyner wished after the game that he hadn’t played at all.

“I shouldn’t have played him,” Joyner said. “I hope I didn’t set him back. It was Cabot so he wanted to give it a try. But I shouldn’t have let him. We’ll see how it goes from here.”

The 6-foot senior guard still led the Titans with 13 points despite only playing seven minutes.

Duncan, a three-year starter who didn’t start on Friday, came off the bench to lead all players with 20 points. Brown added 17 while Stanley had 14. Gilbertson scored 13, including 11 from the free-throw line.

Cabot went 26 of 34 from the foul line as a team while Jacksonville made 17 of 26 attempts. The Panthers were an impressive 9 of 17 from 3-point range, with Brown going 5 for 8. Jacksonville was 5 of 16 from outside.

The Panthers will play at 2:30 p.m. next Wednesday against Clarksville in the first round of the Hoops for Hunger tournament at Russellville High School.

Jacksonville will host Little Rock Central at 8 p.m. tonight in the first round of the Titan Classic at JHS, and will face Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in day two of that event.