Leader Blues

Saturday, February 23, 2008

SPORTS >>Last-second steal sinks Cabot boys

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Panthers watched yet another game go down to the wire on Tuesday night at Pan-ther Pavilion against Russellville. The Cyclones put a damper on senior night with a last-second steal and layup by A.J. Broadway to take a 52-50 win. It was the sixth straight Cabot game decided by two points or less, and the second straight home loss suffered on a last-second shot.
The loss cost the Panthers a No. 4 seed, dropping them to fifth. They will open state tournament play on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. when they take on Fort Smith Southside at Conway High School.

Cabot led almost the entire way until 15 seconds remained, when Derek Owens hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 50-50. Owens had made little noise from the outside leading up to that point, going 0-5 from the three-point line until his last triple attempt fell in.

“We’ve been snake bit our last two home games,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “For our seniors, Derek Clarkson, Sam Bates, Tim Lawrenceand Trey Rosel, they deserved a win in their last home game, but give Russellville credit for not quitting.

“It’s a freaky thing, but we just have to put it behind us and get ready to fight for a state championship next week.”

The Panthers built a lead of as much as 11 points in the middle of the third quarter, but Russellville slowly chipped away through the fourth quarter, and hit a pair of free throws at the 2:41 mark to pull to within two, 46-44.

Adam Sterrenberg hit both ends of a one-and-one to extend it back to four. Russellville lost the ball out of bounds, but the Panthers could not convert, and gave up the board.

The Cyclones missed on two tries after that, and an offensive foul by Owens gave the ball back to Cabot. Owens made up for his mistake with a steal that led to a three-point basket with 1:16 left to play that pulled Russellville to within one.

Junior guard Jack Bridges then hit both ends of a one-and-one to give the Panthers a three-point lead with less than a minute remaining.

Tim Lawrence pulled down a defensive board for the Panthers on a Cyclone miss, and Miles Monroe ended up at the free-throw line for a one-and-one. He missed the front end, and Broadway pulled down the rebound. That led to the three for
Owens with 15 seconds left, giving the Panthers one last chance to secure the win.

But Broadway had other plans and snagged the steal from Sterrenberg at midcourt.

He outran both Sterrenberg and the clock to lay it in off the glass as the buzzer sounded.

The last three minutes of the first half appeared to be the strongest for the Panthers. The opening quarter ended with a narrow 14-12 lead for Cabot, with Russellville taking its only lead of the first half with a free throw at the 4:55 mark.

The Panthers quickly answered back. Sterrenberg hit a three pointer on an assist from Lawrence on the ensuing Cabot possession to put the Panthers back up by two at 20-18.

Broadway scored to tie it again, but the Panthers went on a 6-0 run to end the first half. Two buckets by Johnson, with a goal by junior sub Gary Clark in between gave Cabot a 26-20 lead at intermission.

Sterrenberg led the Panthers with 14 points. Austin Johnson added eight points, while post players Monroe and Sam Bates each added seven points, with four blocked shots for Monroe.

Jack Bridges rounded it out with five points and five assists for the Panthers.

Russellville dominated the boards 29-19. Cabot shot 42 percent from the floor (18-42) and hit five of eight three-point attempts for 63 percent.

Russellville had 49 percent shooting (19-39) and was 39 percent from the three-point line (7-18).

The Panthers finished out the regular season with an 18-10 overall record, and 7-7 in the 7A-Central. Russellville’s conference season ended on a high note, giving them a final record of 13-14 overall and 4-10 in league play.

The Panthers ended up as the No. 5 seed out of the 7A-Central Conference, and will take on Fort Smith Southside, the No. 4 seed from the West in the first round of the 7A state tournament to be played at Conway High School.