Leader Blues

Monday, February 26, 2007

SPORTS >>Cabot ladies hammer Cyclones

IN SHORT: The Lady Panthers destroyed Russellville Tuesday in their regular-season finale.

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Cabot teams ended the regular season with a conference split at Russellville on Tuesday night. The boys came up short in the second half after keeping it close through the first two quarters, but the girls stayed in the hunt for the East No. 2 playoff seed with a 77-53 win over the Lady Cyclones.

Although Lady Panthers head coach Carla Crowder noted the game as one of the best team efforts all season for her team, it was also a showcase for junior forward Lauren Walker, who finished with a season-high 26 points. With a field goal average of well over 50 percent, Walker even backed up her few misses from the floor with nine rebounds on the night.

“She was on fire,” Crowder said. “The girls did a great job of getting the ball to her. They were really focused as a team; they worked together really good. They passed the ball as well as I have seen all year. They were able to get it inside when they needed to.”

The Lady Panthers rushed out to an 18-8 lead at the end of one quarter, and extended that lead to 37-16 at the intermission. In typical Cabot style, the threat of a mercy-rule was thwarted by opening up the bench to the underclassmen.
Walker’s career game was far from the only noteworthy performance for the Lady Panthers. Every starter with the exception of Walker had almost more rebounds than points. Senior Jamie Sterrenberg finished with seven rebounds and seven points, while Maddie Helms had five rebounds and seven points.

Shelby Ashcraft added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Rachel Glover also came away with a double-digit rebounding performance with 10 boards.

The JV players also made solid contributions in the game. Sophomore post player Stephanie Glover scored six points inside, while Allison Grigsby came away with a pair of goals. Jenna Bailey turned in a strong defensive performance with two steals, while also forcing two more turnovers on the Lady Cyclones.

The Lady Panthers finished the regular season with an impressive record of 21-5 overall and 11-3 in the 7A-Central Conference. They were awaiting the winner of last night’s game between Conway and North Little Rock to learn what seed they will be in next week’s state tournament.

If North Little Rock, who has already wrapped up the league title, came away with the win, it would mean a No. 2 seed for Cabot, but Conway could take runner-up if they pulled off the upset.

The boys were playing for pride, but that pride would unfortunately only last for the first 24 minutes. The Panthers only trailed by four points at halftime, but an intense second half from the Cyclones almost put the game into a mercy-rule in the final minutes, as Russellville pulled away for a 28-point decision over Cabot.

“It’s a little disappointing,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said of his team’s 9-18 season record. “I thought we would do a little better than what we did, but we’re a young team. Our three seniors, Justin Haas, Alex Sharp and Jacob Trammell, those are all very fine young men, and I wanted them to enjoy a good season for sticking with us. They have done a great job for us over the last few years, and I’m sure that they will all be successful in whatever they do in life.”

As for the returning players, Bridges said that after a two-week break, priority one will be strength conditioning.
Sophomore starters Adam Sterrenberg and Austin Johnson had plenty of prowess on the court this year, but their lanky frames made them targets for physical play from many conference opponents.

“I hope they’ve seen the difference physically at the varsity level,” Bridges said. “There is a lot of difference between playing on Monday and Thursday than playing on Tuesday and Friday. I’m encouraged with the young players that we have, but they are going to have to step up and learn to be more aggressive.”