Leader Blues

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

SPORTS > > Late three-pointer lifts Panthers

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Every point in the fourth quarter proved valuable on Friday against Catholic, but none more so than Cabot senior Derek Clarkson’s three-pointer with 36 seconds left in the game that erased the Rockets’ only lead of the second half.

Clarkson’s shot from the right wing off an assist from junior Adam Sterrenberg lifted the Panthers to a dramatic 36-35 home win over Catholic High.

It was an exciting win for the Panthers after a brutal defensive struggle, in which both teams combined for nine points in the final quarter. Clarkson’s shot ended up as the only field goal for Cabot in the final eight minutes, with a free throw by Austin Johnson with 5:41 remaining as the only other Panther point in the last frame.

“I’m proud of our defense,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “They were going to their high post before kicking down to the low block in the third quarter, and that helped them build some momentum. We were able to keep the ball out of their posts’ hands in the fourth quarter.”

It was a 1-3-1 matchup zone that did the trick for the Panthers in the fourth quarter, as well as a few costly turnovers by the Rockets. Catholicpost player Garrett Eukman put the Rockets back in the game with excellent play inside during the third quarter. Eukman went on a run of eight straight points from the 6:24 mark of the third quarter to the 3:55 mark, erasing a 28-20 Cabot lead to tie the game.

The Panthers converted only three field goals in the second half. The Rockets had one final shot, but a drive to the basket by Michael Drake in the final 10 seconds resulted in a turnover and a foul on Drake.

Cabot took possession, and the Rockets continued to foul until reaching the bonus. That sent Johnson to the line with 7.7 seconds left. Johnson missed the front end, and John Ukadike pulled down the board for Catholic. Ukadike got it to Drake for a potential winning shot, but Sterrenberg preserved the win for the Panthers with a steal in the final second.

“I’m proud of Adam and Derek both,” Bridges said. “Adam’s first instinct was to drive it in, but he kicked it out to Derek. We kept plugging away, and we were fortunate enough to get some breaks there at the end.”

Strong inside play allowed the Panthers to control most of the first half. Post player Sam Bates was consistent inside, while Miles Monroe was content to try his luck from the outside. Monroe, the 6-7 junior post, scored on a three-point shot at the 3:28 mark of the first quarter to tie the game at 9-9.

The Rockets focused much of their defensive efforts on Sterrenberg, which allowed John-son and Clarkson to enjoy more looks than normal. Johnson had a number of strong drives to the basket in the first half, and Clarkson’s normal role of assist master to Sterrenberg was somewhat of a reverse affair on Friday.

“They did a great job with their defense on Adam,” Bridges said of the CHS defense. “They face-guarded him all night, and kept him out of the lanes.”

Clarkson and Bates led the Panthers with eight points each. Johnson and Sterrenberg both finished the game with six points. For Catholic, Drake led all scorers with 11 points, while Eukman added 10 points. The win gives Cabot records of 16-7 overall and 5-4 in the 7A-Central Conference.

CABOT GIRLS 57, MT. ST. MARY 37

Lady Panthers coach Carla Crowder has been waiting for her bench to show signs of offensive life since the start of the conference season, and is happy to finally feel a pulse. Cabot downed Mt. Saint Mary 57-37 on Friday at Panther Pavilion after trailing most of the first half.

“I felt like we had a lot of people come off the bench and contribute tonight,” Crowder said. “They went out and hit the boards hard and made some really good plays. (Mt. Saint Mary) always plays us really close, but we got a lot of hard play out of a lot of different people tonight.”

The difference for the Belles came in the final minute of the first half, when standout senior post player Lauren Ramsey went down with an ankle injury. Ramsey had contributed only four points for MSM up to that point, but her absence on the boards in the second half proved pivotal.

It took the Lady Panthers more than half the third quarter to catch MSM, but once Stephanie Glover took an inbound assist from Shelby Ashcraft for a goal at the 2:49 mark of the third quarter to tie the game at 26-26, it was all Cabot from there. The Lady Panthers outscored MSM 19-8 in the fourth quarter.
Leah Watts led the Lady Panthers with 12 points. Lauren Walker and Ashcraft each added 10 points, while Jenna Bailey scored nine points and Glover finished with eight. The Lady Panthers are now 16-8 overall and 6-3 in the 7A-Central Conference, which ties them for third place in the league standings with Little Rock Central.

Cabot hosted North Little Rock last night after Leader deadlines, and will play at Central on Friday.