Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SPORTS >> Balance leads Lady Panthers past Lady Tigers

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers used remarkable balance to overcome the one-woman show of Shawnessai Arnold in a 49-41 win over Little Rock Central on Friday night at the Panther Pavilion.

The Lady Panthers improved to 17-6 overall and 7-3 in the 7A Central. Bryant’s loss to Conway on Friday allowed Cabot to move within one-and-a-half games of the second-place Lady Hornets. Cabot traveled to Bryant last night.

The Lady Panthers bounced back from a tough two-point road loss at first-place North Little Rock on Tuesday.

“We needed to rebound,” said Cabot coach Carla Crowder. “We played hard on Tuesday but things just didn’t fall our way. North Little Rock is a very good team. Central is a very good team. We’re glad to be back on the winning path.”

The way the Lady Tigers were racing past Cabot in the early going, that path looked as though it might be elusive. Central made 9 of 13 shots in the opening period. Central used an up-tempo style and easy penetration to post the high shooting percentage. Amber Rock’s buzzer-beating three got Cabot within 20-14 after one period. Though Sarah Moore scored six straight points for the Lady Panthers to open the second quarter, Cabot struggled to close the gap and Arnold, who scored 20 points, scored on a lay-up in the final minute to send the Lady Tigers to the locker room up 28-22.

But Cabot began to tighten up the interior in the second half and scored the first nine points to take its first lead of the game at 31-28 on Rock’s runner.

“Amber can score if she’s ready to shoot,” Crowder said. “She’s a really good player.”

Though Stephanie Glover scored in the lane late in the period, Arnold hit a three-pointer to tie the game heading into the final period.

Central briefly took the lead on a lay-up a minute into the fourth quarter, but Cabot scored twice off inbound plays from Glover to Shelby Ashcraft to take the lead for good at 37-35 with 5:50 left in the contest.

Despite a nearly five-minute Lady Tiger scoring drought, Cabot struggled to pull away and still led only 43-35 after Glover’s fast break lay-up off a Rock feed with 3:18 left. Arnold shot Central right back in it with back-to-back threes over a 54-second span that whittled the lead to 43-41 at the 1:03 mark.

But Rock hit four straight free throws and Jenna Bailey added two more to set the final margin. Cabot won the game at the line by making 18 of 23, compared to just 7 of 11 for Central.

“They’re so much quicker than we are,” Crowder said. “We tried not to let them penetrate like they did in the first half. We played a little more solid in the second half.”

After making 9 of 13 field goals in the first quarter, Central connected on only 6 of 23 the rest of the way. Of its final eight field goals in the contest, seven were by Arnold.

Glover paced Cabot with 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Ashcraft scored all nine of her points in the second half and also pulled down 11 rebounds overall. Rock added nine points, while Moore and Bailey each chipped in with eight. Bailey also had five steals.

The Lady Panthers made 15 of 37 from the field and out-rebounded Central 27-21.