Leader Blues

Friday, December 01, 2006

SPORTS >>Panthers knock off Catholic Rockets

IN SHORT: Cabot defeated its 7A-Central Conference mates in the semifinal round of the CAC tourney Thursday night in Maumelle.

Leader sports writer

Though not as easily as the Lady Panthers did, the Cabot Panthers made their way into the finals of the Ortho Arkansas Invitational tournament at the Diles Activities Center on the campus of Central Arkansas Christian with a hard fought 65-56 win over a pesky Little Rock Catholic team. The win gives the Panthers a record of 3-1 and puts them into Saturday night’s finals against the winner of last night’s late game between Lake Hamilton and Little Rock Christian.

The Lady Panthers advanced to the finals of the girls bracket thanks to Mother Nature, as Marshall decided to forfeit the game due to impending winter weather. Cabot will play CAC in the finals on Saturday.

The Panthers got the only real momentum in the contest with three-straight three pointers from sophomore standout Adam Sterrenberg in the final 1:23 of the third quarter. Sterrenberg’s tres took Cabot from a 44-41 deficit to a 50-49 lead by the end of the frame. All nine points came from the same spot on the court, and accounted for around half of Sterrenberg’s game-leading 19 total points.

The Rockets held the lead for most of the first half, applying the pressure to Cabot post Alex Sharpe, making the 6’8” senior ineffective on both ends of the court. Sharpe played much farther out in the second half, and began to find his way to the boards and the hoop both. Sharpe finished right behind Sterrenberg on the final points tally with 18.

Sixth man Justin Haas saw court time through most of the contest, with Austin Johnson and Shawn Trammell rotating in and out of the lineup with sub Trey Rosel.

The Rockets took the early advantage, rushing out to a 9-2 lead by the 4:34 mark of the opening quarter. Catholic struck with four straight baskets, including a three-pointer from Garrett Guinn and back to back jumpers for Jake Bequette.

The Panthers stayed alive initially on free throws. Cabot hit 7 of 7 attempts at the line in the first quarter, making up all but four points of the team total in the period.

The shooting from the floor improved in the second quarter, and Cabot managed to pull to within one point with 5:58 left in the half at 18-17. A pair of Sharpe free throws gave the Panthers their first lead of the contest moments later, followed by a three pointer from Austin John-son that made the score 23-19.

Three bad shots on the ensuing Cabot possession allowed the Rockets to take back the lead, but a shot from Trammell in the final seconds tied the score at the half 33-33.

Sterrenberg and Sharpe got to work in the third quarter. Sharpe came alive under the goal, pulling down four defensive rebounds in the frame that would have been second shot attempts for Catholic a half earlier.

Sterrenberg drove in the paint for his first two points of the third, but his other three goals in the period all came from behind the arc.

The Rockets were still in the hunt with only 1:50 left in the game. La’Norris Dukes closed the gap to three with an inside jumper to make it 59-56. Trammel was sent to the line with less than a minute to go, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. Sharpe grabbed the re-bound, but couldn’t convert.

Guinn went to the line for Catholic moments later, but also missed his first one-and-one. This time it was Sam Bates that came away with the rebound for Cabot, and the Rockets quickly fouled him to stop the clock. Bates put both free throws away, and put Catholic down by five with less than 30 seconds left in the game.

Dukes led Catholic with nine points. Michael Drake added eight points for the Rockets. Sterrenberg led the Panthers offensively with 19 points. Sharpe finished with 18 points for Cabot. The Panthers will face either Lake Hamilton or Christian in the finals of the Ortho Arkansas tournament today at 7:30 p.m.