SPORTS >>Cabot earns two big wins against Conway
By JASON KING
Leader sports writer
Both games were dramatic, and both ended up as big wins for Cabot teams Tuesday night against visiting Conway.
The Lady Panthers avenged an earlier loss to the Lady Wampus Cats with a 63-58 win that went down to the wire, and the boys closed out the night by breaking a six-game losing streak with a 50-46 win.
The girls game was tied at 55-55 with 1:50 to play in the game when Lady Panthers post player Shelby Ashcraft scored inside and drew the foul from Chelsea Sublett. Ashcraft hit the foul shot to put Cabot up by three, and then blocked a shot attempt by Sublett on the other side of the court that resulted in a jump ball, giving possession back to the Lady Panthers. Sublett fouled Ashcraft again, but this time, Ashcraft missed the one-and-one shot, and Shambree Maxfield pulled down the board for the Lady ‘Cats.
Conway put the ball in the hands of leading scorer Sidney Stewart, but Stewart was called for a charge as she went up for the shot, making contact with Ashcraft.
Rachel Glover appeared to have put the game away for Cabot with 45 seconds remaining when she hit both ends of a one-and-one that gave the Lady Panthers a 60-55 lead, but Katy Ashley Pauley quickly put it back to within two for Conway with a three pointer with 37 seconds left.
Glover almost got a five-second call on the inbound pass, but Cabot coach Carla Crowder called timeout before the call could be made, and the Lady Panthers retained possession. On the next in-bounds attempt, Chanel Irvin stole Glover’s pass and got the ball to Stewart, who went for the game-tying shot. The attempt fell short, and Sublett fouled Ashcraft while going up for the rebound. The sophomore missed the front end, but made the second attempt to give the Lady Panthers a 61-58 lead with 15 seconds left.
Stewart had one last shot to tie the game, but her flawless outside shooting from the first three quarters had faded, and Ashcraft came up with another board. Glover was fouled with six seconds remaining, and hit both shots to set the final margin.
“We were really proud to get that win,” Crowder said after the game. “The kids played hard. I think towards the end, we started rebounding better, that’s what you have to do to beat a good team like that.” The win ties the two teams for second place in the 7A-Central standings.
Senior Maddie Helms led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 16 points. Glover finished with 12 points, and Jamie Sterrenberg added 11 points for Cabot. Ashcraft, Lauren Walker and Leah Watts all added eight points for the Lady Panthers. Helms scored eight points in each half for an all-around solid performance, but most of Ashcraft’s contributions came late in the game after early foul trouble had her on the bench for most of the first three periods.
Stewart led all scorers for Conway with 24 points. The win improves the Lady Panthers’ record to 16-4 overall and 6-2 in conference.
The Panthers traded the lead back and forth with the Wampus Cats in the fourth quarter of the boys contest. Cabot had held the lead throughout the entire first half, going up by as much as nine points at the 3:06 mark of the second quarter at 19-10. The ‘Cats were able to cut into that deficit by the end of the frame to trail 22-18.
A goal from Ammon Martin with 2:36 left in the third quarter tied the game for Conway at 29-29, setting the stage for the fourth-quarter shootout.
Conway took its first lead of the game at the start of the frame with a three-point shot for a 32-31 advantage. Junior forward Sam Bates answered for Cabot with a layup that put the Panthers back up by one, but Terry Tidwell gave Conway the advantage once again at the 6:51 mark with a jumper for a 34-33 lead.
Senior post Alex Sharp tied the game with a foul shot at the 6:37 mark, but missed the back end, and Codell Selvy pulled down the rebound for Conway. Selvy then made a basket to give the Wampus Cats a 36-34 lead, and got another quick basket to increase the lead to four.
Justin Haas cut the deficit to two for Cabot with a backdoor shot assisted by Jacob Trammel. Sophomore Austin Johnson got the lead back for the Panthers moments later with a three pointer at the 4:14 mark that made the score 39-38, but the lead would change hands two more times in the next minute.
Adam Sterrenberg hit a basket to put the Panthers up by three, and Johnson made two free throws to put Cabot up by five, but Conway had one more weapon to contend with late. Martin had been relatively quiet offensively through the most of the game, but developed a hot hand from the outside in the final minute.
Martin hit a 32-footer with 1:01 left to cut the lead to two, but Sharp found the goal inside for Cabot on the ensuing possession to stretch the lead back out to four.
Sharpe’s goal would prove to be Conway’s biggest mistake down the stretch, leaving the 6’7” senior under the goal all alone as Trammell inbounded the ball on the left side following a foul. Sharp easily layed the ball in, to give the Panthers a two-score advantage for the first time in the quarter.
Johnson followed that with a steal on the inbounds, and hit the front end of his free throw opportunity. Haas added two more foul shots moments later for a 50-43 Cabot lead, but Martin nailed another tre to cut the advantage in half. With only six seconds remaining, Conway had to make something happen under its own goal on the inbound, but Sterrenberg eluded the Wampus Cats defenders and ran out the clock.
“I was concerned when we went down by four in the fourth,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “But we came back and made some plays. It was just a good team effort. We needed it. With those three losses we had by a total of four points, it’s been hard to come back and go to work every day like these boys have, and I’m proud of them.”
As the cheers and chants from the Panthers’ locker room got louder behind him, Bridges began to get emotional.
“This dressing room has not been fun lately,” Bridges said. “I take it all personal. I’m not a good loser, and I love those kids. But hearing them do that, that’s why it’s fun to coach.”
Sharp led Cabot with 15 points. Sterrenberg added 11 points, and Johnson finished with 10. For Conway, Martin led with 14 points. The win improves Cabot’s record to 9-12 overall and 2-6 in the 7A-Central Conference.
Cabot played on the road against Catholic and Mt. Saint Mary’s last night, and will travel to North Little Rock on Tuesday night.