Leader Blues

Saturday, February 16, 2008

SPORTS >>Another heartache for Panthers

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Bryant guard Chad Knight managed to break a lot of hearts on Tuesday night at Panther Pavilion. Knight launched the winning three-point shot for the Hornets with less than a second left on the clock to seal a 43-42 win after a steal by Austin Johnson that led to an Adam Sterrenberg layup, which appeared to have secured the win for Cabot.

It was the second consecutive one-point loss for the Panthers after they fell last Friday to Little Rock Central.

The Panthers held a lead of six at the 2:50 mark of the fourth quarter after a basket and free throw by Johnson. But Bryant answered with back-to-back three pointers by Taylor Masters, and Brandon Crowart tied the score at 40-40 with 1:31 left.
That’s the way it stayed until the final five seconds, when Johnson, who had given up the ball to the Hornets in the paint on the previous Cabot possession, came away with a steal when he deflected a pass by Masters. He quickly found fellow junior Sterrenberg in transition. Sterrenberg drove the paint and easily outmaneuvered Zack Lewis under the goal for what appeared to be the winner.

The clock stood at 4.8 seconds, which the officials adjusted to an even five. The Panthers then fouled Bryant on two inbound attempts, which gave the Hornets a chance to inbound for the winner on the offensive side of the court. The Hornets formed a victory dog-pile at the free-throw line, and the Panthers stared in disbelief.

The game was a defensive struggle, and the Panthers made no secret early on that they planned on taking the ball inside. Sterrenberg put the first points of the game on the board at the 3:46 mark for Cabot on an assist from Miles Monroe, but senior post Sam Bates scored the other two first-quarter goals on inside putbacks.

The Hornets got six points from Crowart alone in the first quarter, combined with a three pointer by Masters, and a dunk from their post sub that gave them an 11-6 lead heading into the second quarter.

Bryant led 22-16 at intermission and maintained the advantage until the 4:02 mark of the third quarter, when Johnson and Monroe sparked a rally for the Panthers that almost carried them the rest of the way.

Monroe assisted Johnson on a shot to cut the lead to 28-24, and Monroe followed that with back-to-back baskets. The first one was a lane-driver assisted by Derek Clarkson at the 3:25 mark, the second was an inside shot set up with a pass by Bates from the high post. That tied the score at 28-28 with 2:48 left in the third.

Sterrenberg then gave Cabot its first lead since the opening quarter with a transition shot with 43 seconds left.

Monroe extended the lead for the Panthers to start the final period with a put-back. That gave Cabot a 32-28 lead. Bates and Monroe continued to work the inside, and a spin move by Bates on an assist by Jack Bridges put the Panthers up by five with 3:36 remaining.

Bates led all scorers for the Panthers with 12 points. Monroe and Sterrenberg each finished with 10 points, and Johnson added eight. For Bryant, Crowart led with 11 points.

Cabot, which is already assured of a berth in the state playoffs, is now 17-9 overall and 6-6 in the 7A-Central Conference, while Bryant improved to 15-10 and 7-5 in league play. The Panthers dropped to fifth place, still a half-game ahead of North Little Rock.

CABOT GIRLS 54, BRYANT 44.

Someone forgot to tell the Lady Hornets that a team which holds an 0-11 record in conference play is not supposed to play Cabot a close game on its home court. The Lady Panthers, whose bench currently resembles a MASH unit, struggled to put
Bryant away until the fourth quarter.

With losses by Little Rock Central and Pine Bluff, Cabot moved alone into third place in the 7A-Central.

Junior post player Stephanie Glover had a big night inside for Cabot, but not without a few hitches.

Glover finished the game with four fouls, three of which came in the latter stages of the third quarter and opening minute of the fourth quarter.

In the end, it was Glover’s solid inside play, combined with senior Lauren Walker’s heroics that finally put the Lady Hornets away.

“Stephanie played really well tonight,” Cabot assistant coach Charles Ruple said. “She took it upon herself to make things happen for us inside. She had eight or nine feeds during the game, and she got all but two of them. They brought some of their younger kids in to play tonight. A couple of those sophomores shot really well for them.”

Hannah Goshien and Anna Simpson gave Cabot fits in the first half. Goshien shot with confidence for a sophomore, and it paid off with eight first-half points. The Lady Panthers stepped up their defensive efforts in the second half to deny her any looks in the final two frames.

Walker led the Lady Panthers with 17 points, and was recognized after the game for her scholarship to South Alabama. Glover added 14 points for Cabot, and guard Leah Watts finished with 12.

Junior post player Shelby Ashcraft sat out the game with a lower-ankle injury suffered at Central the previous week, but Ruple said he believed the injury is not significant enough to keep her out for the rest of the season. The win improved the Lady Panthers’ record to 14-10 overall and 7-5 league play. The Lady Hornets remain winless with a 0-12 league record.

Cabot played at Pine Bluff last night after Leader deadlines, and will host Russellville on Tuesday night for senior night.