Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

SPORTS >>Cabot blows by Lonoke

BY JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Lady Panthers dominated the Lady Jackrabbits in the consolation finals of the RAPA tournament at Little Rock Hall Saturday night. Cabot jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first five minutes of the contest and never looked back to take a very convincing 70-42 win over its cross-county rival.

The Lady Panthers got the lead as high as 21 points in the opening frame until a small rally from Lonoke senior post Calisha Kirk cut the lead to 16 at the half. Kirk scored on a put-back, then took in a break-away layup and drew the foul from Cabot’s Lauren Walker. She made the foul shot, putting the halftime score at 36-20 in favor of Cabot.

Kirk and Kristy Shinn gave the Lady ‘Rabbits hope in the early stages of the second half. Both scored on early jumpers to close Cabot’s lead to within 12 points, but it would be the closest Lonoke would come to the quicker and more precise-shooting Lady Panthers. Walker took over for Cabot in the middle of the second half with two straight steals that she converted into layups that put the Lady Panthers’ lead at 20 points, 51-31 with 8:37 remaining. Lonoke head coach Nathan Morris called his second time out in two minutes at that point in an attempt to rally his squad, but Cabot continued to take advantage of the Lady Jackrabbits’ vulnerability to having the ball picked from them.

Another steal from senior Maddie Helms with an assist to Leah Watts for two points, and a pair of foul shots from Jamie Sterrenberg gave Cabot an insurmountable 61-36 lead with 5:20 remaining. The Lady Panthers called off the dogs at that point, and the final five minutes of the contest had the look of a JV contest for both teams.

Sophomore standout Shelby Ashcraft continued to impress early on down low for the Lady Panthers. Ashcraft scored six points early to help Cabot rush out to a 15-3 lead with 11:42 left in the first half. Helms shook off her early-season inconsistency with a strong game of her own for the Lady Panthers, Helms put up six points in the first half, but more importantly led in assists, and the onslaught of steals from Cabot in the opening 16 minutes. Helms got the second of what would turn out to be six steals on the half, five of which were converted into fast-break scores for the Lady Panthers.
Sterrenberg, Ashcraft, Walker and Watts would also come away with picks in the half, with Watts grabbing a pair of possessions away from Lonoke early.

Kirk kept Lonoke somewhat in the game in the early going, driving hard on the inside for some tough points. Kirk ended up with 13 of the Lady ‘Rabbits 20 first half points, and seven more in the second half. The scoring was spread out a little more for Lonoke in the second half, but Junior outside shooter Haley O’Cain couldn’t find her mark from three-point land. O’Cain looked like she would be hot during the pre-game warm up, hitting six consecutive shots from different spots behind the arc. But with pressure from the Cabot D, her shots were off, and Lonoke’s best chance for quick points in the second half faded away.

Kirk led all scorers for Lonoke with 20 points. Ashcraft led Cabot with 16 points, with Sterrenberg adding 14 for the Lady Panthers. Walker also finished in double digits with 12 points on the night. The win gave Cabot a final No. 5 ranking in the tourney, with Lonoke finishing sixth.