Leader Blues

Monday, November 13, 2006

SPORTS >>Cabot ladies drill LR Hall in RAPA

IN SHORT: Cabot bounced back from an opening round loss to Pulaski Academy to pick up an easy victory.

Leader sports writer

The Cabot Lady Panthers were put into the losers bracket of this year’s RAPA tournament with a 66-60 first round loss to Pul-aski Academy on Wed-nesday. They bounced back on Thursday to crush host team Little Rock Hall 60-19.

The win over Hall puts Cabot in the finals of the consolation bracket against cross-county rival Lonoke today. Panthers assistant coach Charles Ruple said the improvement from Wed-nesday to Thursday was much needed.

“We shot pretty well tonight,” Ruple said. “We didn’t shoot very well last night. It’s a pleasure to get a win in the books; that’s what it’s all about.” Cabot built up such a commanding lead over the Lady Warriors that they were able to clear the bench. All 18 players saw playing time in the second half of the mercy-ruled contest, but it was the young players that got Ruple’s attention.

“You see how they go out there, it’s like a dog on a bone,” Ruple said. “It doesn’t matter to them if we are ahead or behind, they are going out there to play as hard as they can play.”

One sophomore has already made her way into the starting lineup. There was a lot of curiosity concerning who would be able to step up and fill the enormous shoes left by UALR freshman Kim Sitzmann, but if the early games are any indication, Lady Panther fans will not have to look any further than sophomore Shelby Ashcraft. The six-foot youngster even dons Sitzmann’s old number (35), and led the team in scoring during both games.

Cabot trailed in the first half against Pulaski Academy until the last five minutes of the half. The Lady Panthers then went on a 20-6 rally to take command of the game by halftime 37-31 with the help of the three pointer by senior Maddie Helms just before the buzzer.

The Lady Bruins came out rejuvenated in the second half, and the Lady Panthers lost their inside game. Cabot missed six inside jumpers in the opening minutes of the half, allowing PA to overtake the lead. Once out in front, they would allow a full comeback from the Lady Panthers for the remainder of the contest.

Thursday’s game against Hall had a much different tone. The Lady Panthers tried the outside in the early going, but three missed three pointers forced them to move to the inside. Ashcraft got them on the board with a jumper and foul shot, and then Leah Watts found the outside touch with a three-point shot to put Cabot up 6-2. Cabot led 35-13 at the half, and was able to extend that lead in the second half, even with second and third string squads in against the Hall varsity team.

Hall only scored six points on the subs in the final half. Although the Lady Warriors were not the most precise shooting team, Cabot’s younger players showed a lot of defensive prowess, and great hustle. Ashcraft had 14 points against Pulaski Academy and 11 points against Hall.

Senior Jamie Sterrenberg had 10 points against PA and eight against Hall. Leah Watts added 10 points in Thursday’s win over the Lady Warriors.

Cabot will take on Lonoke today in the fifth-place game starting at 3 p.m.