Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

SPORTS >>Cabot, Lonoke lose in final

Leader sportswriter

Local teams did not fare quite as well at the RAPA Roundball Rally as in recent years, with the Cabot Lady Panthers and Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits both closing out play at the annual invitational tourney with 1-2 records. The Lady Panthers started out play with a win over Little Rock Hall, but faltered in their final two games with Little Rock Central on Thursday and Carlisle in Saturday’s consolation finals.

The Lady ’Rabbits shined brightest in their second-round game, overtaking North Little Rock Thursday night in overtime after losing their opening round game to Morrilton. The momentum from Thursday’s win did not carry into Saturday’s finals, as the Parkview Lady Patriots held off Lonoke to take a 53-47 win.

The second-round loss for the Lady Panthers matched them in a rare cross-county rivalry game with 2A state champs Carlisle. The Lady Bison suffered a blowout loss to Morrilton Thursday to wind up in the consolation game, but proved they were still the potent team of a year prior with a slim 49-46 win.

The Lady Panthers took control in the early moments, rushing out to a 19-8 lead by the 5:54 mark with a basket by Jenna Bailey off an assist from Rachel Glover. The offense would shut down almost entirely at that point, with a pair of free throws by senior Lauren Walker in the final minute of the half as the only Cabot points in the last five minutes of the half. This would allow Carlisle all-stater Julie Inman and the Lady Bison to come back for a 21-21 tie at the intermission.

While it was Inman who received the most heralded advanced billing, it was actually junior post player Monie Cohen that gave the Lady Panthers the biggest fits. Cohen used her tremendous size advantage and frankly surprising athleticism to control the lower lane on both sides of the court, allowing very few second shot opportunities for the Lady Panthers.

Carlisle built a lead as high as seven, but a three-point shot by senior Leah Watts with 1:22 left in the game rallies the Lady Panthers to a 45-44 deficit. Shelby Ashcraft came close to making the game-saving play when she picked a pass from Jana Inman to Cohen and headed for the basket. Ashcraft’s shot would not fall, and Cohen would control the board to pull down the rebound just as she had all night.

The real writing on the wall would come moments later, when forward Lauren Walker picked up personal foul number five when she made contact with Julie Inman. Walker led the team in scoring once again Saturday with 15 points, but her absence in the final 30 seconds of a tight ball game would prove to be the difference. Inman hit both foul shots to put the Lady Bison up by three, with Whitney Thrift adding two more free throws in the final 10 seconds before Watts set the final margin on a long distance shot for two points.

The Lady Jackrabbits trailed Parkview by as many as 14 points in the second half before slowly working their way back into the picture with solid play by sophomore post Asiah Scribner. The Lady Patriots kept control of the game in the first half by containing Scribner and keeping her off the scoreboard. That would change in the second half, as Scribner came away with eight points in the second half to finish behind teammate Hayley O’Cain, who finished with a team-high 14 points. O’Cain’s final points of the night on a three-point shot with eight seconds left to play that cut the Lady Patriots’ lead to 51-47, but free throws by Candice Strong in the final moments set the final margin at 53-47, forcing Lonoke to settle for sixth-place in the final tournament rundown.