Leader Blues

Monday, January 07, 2008

SPORTS >> Lady Panthers win, boys fall to ’Cats

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Wampus Cats’ domination of the boards, combined with a struggling shooting performance by Cabot resulted in Conway taking a 72-62 win during the 7A-Central Conference opener on Friday night at the CHS gymnasium. Conway had a 37-20 rebounding advantage over the Panthers, but the inside action was only part of the story.

Panthers junior guard Adam Sterrenberg had difficulties from the outside for Cabot, failing to hit a single three pointer for the first time all year. Austin Johnson took up some of the slack with a decent performance from the outside, combined with sparse moments of momentum for the Panthers.

Conway began to slowly pull away in the middle of the third quarter, and shot well from the charity stripe in the closing moments to avoid a late comeback from the Panthers.

The Wampus Cats got their first swing of momentum in the final minute of the first quarter, and held on for the most part. A three-pointer by Kenyon McNeaill put Conway up 14-9, and teammate Corey Merrov added a pair of free throws moments later to make it 16-11 at the end of the opening frame.

Conway’s 8-2 run to start the second quarter put the Panthers in a hole, but it was a hole they were able to claw their way out of. Sam Bates and Johnson’s combined efforts in the final five minutes of the first half allowed the Panthers to not only make up a 22-13 deficit, but a three pointer by Johnson just before the buzzer gave the Panthers their only lead of the game, 33-32 heading into the locker rooms.

Cabot came out strong to start the second half, but unfortunately for the Panthers, it wouldn’t last. Bates rebounded his own miss for a put back to start the third quarter, followed by a basket and foul shot by post player Miles Monroe after a three-pointer by we were too quick to settle for hurried shots.

“That’s the thing that’s most frustrating as a coach is that we didn’t have the team toughness tonight, didn’t bring it. A lot of that could have been not having Ross in there.”

Jonesboro began to dominate the glass in the second period, when they began to establish a comfortable lead. Two layups in the final 17 second allowed the Hurricane to get to the locker room with a 39-30 lead.

The Bears twice pulled within six points in the third quarter, the second time on Randolph’s fifth three of the game with 4:47 left in the third period. But it was the last points for Randolph, and Jonesboro scored eight straight points and never was threatened again.

“No matter how good you shoot it, it’s going to go dry on you at times,” Davis said. “You have to have basketball savvy to get to the basket and go inside, even if you’re smaller. We shoot five free throws tonight. You’ve got to get to the foul line. That goes back to toughness.”

One kid that played tough on Friday was Cameron Robinson, who used his bulk to collect seven rebounds and score nine points.

“He’s only 5-11, but he’ll battle you inch for inch,” Davis said. “Whatever we got down there, he gave us.”

Robinson also dished out three assists, as did Deyonte Davis, who also added eight points and two steals. Keilan Sprouse scored seven points and handed out three assists.

Sylvan Hills (5-8, 0-1) made 22-of-53 shots overall, and 4-of-5 free throws. The Hurricane converted 29-of-52 shots, and 13-of-21 from the line.

Mountain Home comes calling on Monday. Davis expects to have Ross back for that one.

“Ross has some speed and can help with transition defense as well give us an opportunity to run more on offense,” Davis said. “When we get P.J. back, we’ll see how we respond. Hopefully, a game like tonight maybe sends a message.

“This is a team of perimeter players and it’s tough to teach perimeter players to play inside. We have lots to work on. We’ll start at 8 a.m. [today].”

Jonesboro girls 59, Sylvan Hills 41

Bee Rodden tried a lot of different things to slow down Jonesboro on Friday night. Almost none of them worked.

There was the 1-3-1 the Sylvan Hills Lady Bears head coach started with. The Lady Hurricane knocked down three threes.

Then there was the box-and-one in the third quarter. The Lady Hurricane went inside for easy baskets.

The end result was a 59-41 Jonesboro win to open 6A-East Conference play.

“They shot us right out of that zone,” said Rodden, whose Lady Bears dropped to 2-12 overall. “The box-and-one didn’t work. They were killing us inside. We just can’t get everyone on the same page. We’re so young.”

Young and not very deep. Rodden had only 10 on her bench. Five of those were sophomores, and another didn’t play last year. Jonesboro, meanwhile, could barely find a seat for everyone on their roster.

They needed only one, though. Calandra Graham lit up the Lady Bears for 25 points, mostly on nifty moves on the blocks.
But Sylvan Hills stayed with the Lady Hurricane after falling into an 18-6 hole after one, narrowing the gap to 28-25 right before half. Jonesboro, though, began to pull away in the third period with Lady Bear star Trinity Thomas on the bench with four fouls. Thomas got all eight of her points in the first half.

Terica Kendrick led Sylvan Hills with 10 points. Latrina Brandon and Shay Sullivan added seven.

“We competed hard,” Rodden said. “The effort is good. But when we had to pull Trinity, we struggled. She’s our only leader.”