Tuesday, January 17, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Bench prevails for Cabot

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers’ No. 1 ranking was in jeopardy for about three quarters Tuesday at Panther Arena. Cabot’s post players were plagued by foul trouble outside shots weren’t falling early, but Cabot still found a way to pull out a 55-49 win over Conway in a 7A-Central matchup.

“It was a grind, man,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “Conway is pretty good. Our bigs were in foul trouble the whole game. But I was proud of the bench for stepping in when they had to and giving us some big minutes. We needed some new people to step up or we weren’t going to win this game. And we got that. There’s a lot of things I wish we would’ve done better, and are going to have to do better, but that’s one thing I’m proud of, is my bench guys. Noah Allgood, Jared Vance, Christian Weir and Landon Vaught had to play a lot tonight and we were able to find away to beat a good team.”

Starting at the 3:20 mark of the first quarter, Conway went on a 7-0 run to take a 13-6 lead.

Logan Gilbertson scored before the buzzer to make it 13-8, and Cabot had a good start to the second. The Panthers were patient on offense with the first possession of the second frame. They moved the ball for 1:10 before finding guard Jalen Brown under the basket for a layup and a three-point game.

But post player Matt Stanley picked up his second foul a minute later, and left the court for the rest of the half.

Conway (7-5, 1-1) then went on a 10-2 run, starting with a pair of missed layups by Gilbertson. Conway’s Kendarius Smith scored after each one. A pair of turnovers by Weir led to four more Conway points for a 21-12 Wampus Cat lead. It reached its largest margin at 23-12 after another missed layup by Cabot was followed by an offensive rebound and putback by Gentrell Taylor with 1:14 left in the first half.

Cabot point guard Bobby Joe Duncan broke the run with a 12-foot floater. Cabot then trapped at midcourt and forced a backcourt violation. Vance then hit a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 23-17 with 43 seconds to go in the half. Smith then hit a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left to set the halftime score at 25-17.

Cabot (12-1, 2-0) came out with pressure to start the third quarter, but Stanley picked up his third foul just 87 seconds into the period. Cabot’s defense continued to wreak havoc on Conway, but the shots weren’t falling offensively.

The Wampus Cats had scored four points on just two shot attempts through the first three minutes of the third, and still held a 29-26 lead. Stanley then picked up his fourth foul, and second of the half away from the basketball. Gilbertson also got his fourth foul in the third, but Cabot’s defense remained stingy.

The Wampus Cats scored four of their next six points at the free-throw line, and still led 35-31 with three minutes to go in the third. Noah Allgood then pump faked to get his man out of position for an open layup to cut the margin to two.

Allgood then blocked Smith’s driving layup attempt, and Duncan hit a floater to tie the game at 35-35 with two minutes on the clock. Conway’s Carson Petrucelli then missed a 3-pointer. Duncan got the rebound and went 94 feet for another floater to give Cabot its first lead of the game.

Cabot took a 38-37 lead into the final period, and scored the first six points of the fourth for a 44-37 lead with five minutes remaining in the game.

Conway was forced to start sending Cabot to the line, and the Panthers shot well enough to keep the Wampus Cats at arms length. Cabot made 12 of 16 foul shots in the fourth quarter and Conway was never able to get closer than three points.

That came at 52-49 with 28 seconds to go. Weir calmly sank both free throws and Conway could not hit another shot the rest of the way.

Cabot went 0 for 9 from 3-point range in the first half, but 3 for 9 in the second. Conway outrebounded Cabot 42-29 and shot a higher percentage from the floor and the line. But Cabot took more shots because of the turnover difference. Cabot had just six the entire game, while forcing Conway into 16.

Conway made 20 of 23 free throws while Cabot went 22 for 31.

Duncan led Cabot with 14 points while Allgood scored 11. Smith led Conway with 14. Taylor had 12 and Petrucelli scored 11.