Friday, January 20, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot stems Tiger rally

Leader sports editor

Four days after having to rally in the fourth quarter to defeat Conway, the Cabot Panthers had to hold off a rally against Little Rock Central. And they did so, beating the Tigers 57-55 Tuesday at Panther Arena.

Cabot scored the game’s first eight points and never trailed, but had to fend off a series of Central runs. The ebb and flow of the contest saw Central close to within a few points several times, with Cabot pulling back out to double digits after each one.

“I thought we did all right,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “They’re very athletic but I thought we defended well. We didn’t rebound like I think we should have. Our bigs have to stay out of foul trouble. This is two games in a row we’ve dealt with that. But Noah Allgood came off the bench and gave us big minutes again. Jalen Brown shot the ball really well for us, and Bobby Joe (Duncan) just does what he does. He took care of the ball, got people involved and kept us going.”

The Tigers trailed by 10 at halftime and at the end of the third quarter, but had closed to within three points during the third. Central’s Donald Richardson made a 3-pointer with 2:40 left in the third that made the score 35-30. That was still the score when Duncan hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.

Post player Logan Gilbertson then took a charge from Central center Raekwon Rogers with seven seconds remaining. Allgood then got an offensive rebound and putback at the buzzer to make it 40-30 going into the fourth period.

“That was an important series that last few seconds of the third,” Bridges said. “That made them come out on us and we were able to get some open layups. And then we made enough free throws down the stretch. We got the win, so overall I’m proud of them.”

Jarrod Barnes drove right to the rim for a layup that made it 42-30 just seconds into the fourth quarter. From that point, Central began slowly chipping away at Cabot’s lead again, but also blew several opportunities to get even closer.

Jakaylyn Jackson made a 3-pointer to make it 51-44, and Cabot turned it over on the next possession. Richardson got fouled going to the basket on the ensuing possession, but missed both free throws. Scoring stagnated for four minutes, with each team trading missed shots and turnovers. Central finally made it 51-46 with 2:07 to play when Cameron Johnson got a steal and a layup that forced Bridges to call timeout.

The Panthers (13-1, 3-0) successfully held the ball for more than a minute before the Tigers fouled Duncan. He missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Johnson scored at the other end to make it 51-48 with 50 seconds remaining in the game.

Central tried to press after the basket, but Cabot broke it easily. Gilbertson finished the press break with a slam dunk for a 53-48 lead, but Cabot fouled Johnson seconds later.

He made both free throws to make the score 53-50 with 35 seconds left.

Central fouled Gilbertson who made 1 of 2, but the Tigers threw the ball away on its next possession. Central then fouled Brown, who made both of his free throws for a 56-50 lead with 18 tics remaining.

Central kept feint hope alive when Henry Dudley made a 3-pointer with eight seconds to go. The Tigers fouled Brown again, who made it interesting by missing the first free throw. But he drained the second to put the game out of reach and seal the win. Central’s Tyler Moore scored a layup to set the final margin, but the Panthers did not have to inbound the ball and time expired.

Brown led the Panthers with 16 points while Duncan had 13 and seven assists.

Johnson scored 16 for Central (9-6, 1-2), while Rogers finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.