Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SPORTS>>Lady Panthers win Ortho make-up

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers lost another close game in 7A-Central Conference play on Friday with a 54-52 loss to Bryant. The Panthers trailed the entire distance in the contest, but stayed within striking range. Bryant took its biggest lead after the opening quarter 15-9, and kept the interval at six points through the second frame to take a 26-20 lead at the intermission.
Cabot closed the gap in the third quarter, and held on to a one-score deficit for most of the remainder.

“The hump was really three points most of the second half, but we had a hard time catching up to them,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “I thought we gave a good effort and played well defensively, which is something we know we have to work on.”
The sophomore combination of Adam Sterrenberg and Austin Johnson led the way in scoring for the Panthers in the game. Sterrenberg led with 18 points, followed by Johnson with 10. Both players grabbed eight rebounds in the game. Sam Bates had eight points in the game, with senior post Alex Sharp adding six points for Cabot. The loss gives Cabot an 8-10 overall record and 1-4 in the 7A-Central Conference.

Bridges says the three close conference losses so far have been somewhat aggravating, but in no way has dampened the spirits of his team. “It’s been very frustrating,” Bridges said. “We’ve lost two of them by a point and this one by two points, but we’re not giving up. We’re there, we just improve on our defense, which has really been the biggest problem for us. The good thing about the conference is you get to see everybody twice. We’re hoping that we can steal some games and get into one of those playoff spots.”

The Cabot ladies got not jut one, but two big wins over the weekend. The Lady Panthers downed Bryant 65-49 Friday with a 17 point performance from Jamie Sterrenberg and 14 points for junior Lauren Walker, but the most noteworthy performance for Cabot on the weekend was Leah Watts’ 12 points against CAC in the make-up game of the Ortho finals. Cabot went into the final game against the Lady Mustangs looking for redemption after last year’s close loss to CAC in last year’s finals. Watts scored 11 of her total 12 points in the final minutes of the game to lift the Lady Panthers to a 64-62 win to take the tournament title. Watts hit a trio of three pointers in the late going, and a pair of free throws to seal the game.

Cabot ended up with four players in double figures in the well-rounded effort. Sterrenberg had her second 17-point performance in as many days against the Lady Mustangs, but it would be Walker who led the team this time with 18 points. Sophomore post Shelby Ashcraft finished with 11 points despite fouling out early in the fourth quarter. Although Razorback signee Whitney Zachariason finished with 29 points in the game for CAC, she would be the only Lady Mustang to finish in double figures. Lady Panthers coach Carla Crowder says there was no concentrated effort to shut down the high-profile player, but rather a game plan that entailed containing the remainder of the CAC squad.

“She gets most of her points at the foul line,” Crowder said. “The best you can do is try to not foul her, but it’s hard not to. We just let her get her points and didn’t let the rest of the team score.” Crowder says after a tough pair of conference losses early, the team is starting to regain its powerhouse status that the Lady Panthers enjoyed through last year’s conference-winning run.

“We’ve played well as a team these last two days,” Crowder said. “We’ve been improving on our defensive rebounds and our assists, that’s been a big key for us. They have really played well together; they have all done unselfish things.” The two wins give the Lady Panthers an overall record of 14-4 and 3-2 in the 7A-Central Conference. Cabot played at Pine Bluff last night, and will host Russellville Friday.