Tuesday, December 20, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers blow through Jacksonville

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville defense was stingy in the early going, but Cabot’s was stingy the entire game Friday at Panther Arena. The Lady Panthers held Jacksonville to just 7 of 49 shooting (14.3%) en route to a dominant 50-19 victory over the Lady Titans.

The guard-oriented Lady Titans led most of the first quarter until Holly Allen hit a 17-footer with 1:30 left on the clock. That put the Lady Panthers up 7-6, and they would add one more basket to lead by three at the end of the frame.

From that point, Jacksonville had no answer for Cabot post player Haley Sobczak. The 6-foot-1 senior didn’t start and didn’t post any statistics in the first quarter, but finished with game highs in three categories. Sobczak posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and added four blocked shots to her stat line.

“We’re hoping Haley has kind of woke up a little bit,” said Cabot assistant coach Jeremy Holbrook. “She’d been starting but hasn’t really played up to where we think she should’ve been, so we decided to give someone else a try. But she came off the bench and had her best game of the year. If she’ll keep being aggressive and playing strong like she did tonight, it would be a big help to us.”

Jacksonville (7-8) took a 6-3 lead on a 3-point play by Alexis James with four minutes left in the first period. Cabot’s defense then held the Lady Titans without a field goal until 5:18 remained in the third quarter.

Jacksonville managed just one free throw the rest of the half, and that came with 5:16 left in the second quarter.

Cabot’s defense harassed Jacksonville into missing 17 straight shots the rest of the half after taking the 6-3 lead.

The Lady Panthers also forced 15 Jacksonville turnovers while building a 26-7 lead by intermission.

Freshman forward Shy Christopher was the Lady Titans’ leading scorer entering the game, but Cabot (9-1) focused most of its defensive attention on Jacksonville’s guard play.

“We got scouting reports on number five (Dayzya Jordan) and number two (James),” Halbrook said. “We thought we should have an advantage inside, so we felt like if we could stop those two we’d have a pretty good chance. I thought our girls did an outstanding job on what we worked on, and really kept those two from hurting us too much.”

James and Jordan led Jacksonville in scoring, but with just seven and five points respectively.

Cabot made 18 of 32 2-point shots and went just 2 for 15 from beyond the 3-point line. The Lady Panthers were also 6 of 14 from the free-throw line, where Jacksonville was even worse at 3 for 11.

Sobczak was the only player to score in double figures, but Josie VanOss added nine points and Allen seven for Cabot.

The Lady Panthers, now winners of nine-straight after a season-opening loss, are off until next Wednesday when they will play Clarksville at 10 a.m. in the first round of the Hoops for Hunger tournament at Russellville High School.

Jacksonville hosts Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter at 5 p.m. tonight, and will be off until Jan. 3 when it opens conference 5A/6A-Central Conference play at J.A. Fair.