SPORTS >> Panthers beat FC, remain in East race
Leader sports writer
Forrest City did not hit a shot from the floor during the first 11:59 of the contest, as Cabot upset the second-ranked Mustangs 56-42 Friday night at CHS. The Lady Panthers kept their conference record perfect with a 71-49 win over the Lady Mustangs.
The visiting Mustangs’ shooting percentage in the first half was a dreadful three for 22, including 1 of 6 three-point attempts. The Panthers held Forrest City to only four points in the first quarter, all of which came from foul shots. Cabot took a 10-point lead at the end of one, and never let the Mustangs get any closer than within five points the remainder of the game.
“We’re giving ourselves a fighting chance here,” Panthers coach Jerry Bridges said. “We’re going to go play hard and see what happens. We’ll see if we can sneak in a spot; we’ve still got a chance.” Bridges added.
Josh Whatley and Chad Glover got Cabot out to the early lead with strong moves to the basket inside. Guard Justin Haas added a three pointer, and Cabot rushed out to a 7-0 advantage by the 4:03 mark of the opening frame.
To add to Forrest City’s troubles hitting the mark, they were also being out-rebounded by the Panthers, particularly Whatley. Whatley pulled down five boards in the opening period alone, and would go on to grab a game-high 10 rebounds by game’s end.
A pair of free throws from Marcus Britt and Stephan Weaver were the only points for the Mustangs in the first quarter, giving the Panthers a 14-4 lead heading into the second.
Forrest City finally got a goal with 4:01 left in the first half, off a basket from Kelsey Stewart. The Mustangs managed more offense in the second stage, but still shot poorly from the floor, hitting 3 of 11 shots. One of the shots was a three pointer from Weaver with less than two minutes remaining in the half to pull Forrest City to within nine, 23-14 at halftime.
While Cabot used the outside shooting of Haas to help build the lead in the first half, the Panthers went almost exclusively inside in the final half.
Glover got several good looks underneath the basket, scoring six points in the fourth quarter. Matt Shinn, Whatley and Michael Lowery also worked easy jumpers inside, as Cabot went on to secure the huge conference win.
“They are good shooters, they had a bad shooting game,” Bridges said.
“It was a combination, they could have shot better, but we also played good defense. We just didn’t give them many free ones.”
Bridges also thought the student section made a difference in the game, and was complimentary of them and their job on senior night.
“Our student body is the best cheering for any team I have ever had. They give us a lot of energy, and we want them to know we appreciate them.” Haas led the Panthers with 16 points and five assists. Glover added 10 points for Cabot. Forrest City was led by Stewart with 13 points, followed by Britt with 11. The win gives Cabot a 6-7 conference record.
The Lady Panthers had it tougher than the boys on Friday, at least for one half.
Forrest City threatened to end Cabot’s undefeated reign at the top of the East standings in the first two quarters, taking a 32-30 lead at the half.
The Lady Mustangs continued to hold the lead until Jamie Sterrenberg hit a three pointer at the 6:07 mark of the third quarter to tie the score at 34-34. Kim Sitzmann gave the Lady Panthers the lead for the first time since the opening five minutes of the contest with a pair of free throws moments later. Sitzmann then added two more with a steal and lay up to put Cabot up 38-34. Forrest City tied the score one more time in the third, but Cabot went on a 14-3 run in the final 3:28 of the quarter on their way to another conference win.
Sitzmann led the Lady Panthers with 30 points, eight rebounds, six steals and three assists.
Maddie Helms added 12 points for Cabot. Forrest City was led by Cassandra Jackson with 27 points, nine rebounds, seven steals and one blocked shot. With the win, Cabot improves to 22-3 overall on the season and 13-0 in the conference.