Leader Blues

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SPORTS >> Panthers keep pace

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Adam Sterrenberg continued his reign of terror over the 7A Central on Friday night, pouring in 33 points in Cabot’s 72-56 win over Van Buren.

Sterrenberg has scored 196 points over his past seven games — all Panther wins. Cabot has won eight in a row.

Sterrenberg scored 15 of his points in the decisive third quarter, when Cabot rallied. Despite committing no first-half turnovers, Cabot led only 32-31 at intermission before the senior began to score almost at will in the third quarter.

The Pointers did a respectable job of containing the Arkansas State signee in the first half, holding Sterrenberg to only three field goals and nine points.

“When you have an Adam, you have a chance,” said Panthers coach Jerry Bridges. “Very rarely does he have off nights. All of our seniors contributed tonight. I thought Jack (Bridges) hit some big shots early to get us going. I thought (Miles) Monroe did a good job defending their big man, especially in the second half on the rebounding part, also. Austin Johnson is a heck of a ballplayer too; just a great team effort.”

Cabot (20-5 overall) still remains tied with Conway for first place in the 7A-Central Conference standings with 10-2 records. North Little Rock is two games back in third at 9-4.

The containment of Sterrenberg came to an end at the 7:38 mark of the third quarter when he took an assist from Jack Bridges and put the Panthers up 34-31 on a long jumper. He followed that with a steal and lay-up, but his biggest damage began with 4:32 left in the period.

That’s when he hit the first of three-straight shots from behind the arc. The Pointers were still able to keep pace, however, with treys from Tyler Spoon and Brooks White. The last of Sterrenberg’s barrage at the 3:42 mark put the Panthers up 45-37. Seth Bloomberg followed that with a three-point play for Cabot’s first double-digit lead of the night, 48-37.

Aaron Owen snuck in a three-pointer for Van Buren at the buzzer to cut the Panthers’ lead to 52-44 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Pointers still had one push left in them, and used that to pull within 56-50 with 5:13 left on an inside shot by Colton Montgomery. Austin Johnson hit two free throws to extend it back to eight, and Sterrenberg dunked it off a steal at the 4:43 mark for a 60-50 lead.

The fairly large Van Buren crowd held out hope until the 3:48 mark, when Sterrenberg missed a long attempt, but got the ball back when Johnson rebounded and quickly dished back to him. He immediately put it up once again, this time finding all net for a 63-51 lead.

Johnson added late insurance for Cabot with a putback, followed by a three-pointer with 59 seconds left.

“We were trying to run and jump a little too much, and we were leaving their shooters wide open,” Bridges said of Cabot’s defense in the first half. “That’s my fault, and that’s why we said for the second half, let’s go full-court on them and make them work. Let’s get behind the post instead of fronting them.”

Johnson finished with 15 points for Cabot, while Bridges had nine, all on three-pointers. Gary Clark led the Panthers in rebounds with six. Sterrenberg also had four steals along with his 33 points.

Cabot shot 25 of 53 from the field, including 10 of 21 three-pointers, while Van Buren was 19 of 49. The Panthers finished the game with only two team turnovers, compared to 21 for Van Buren. The Pointers won the rebounding battle 28-23.

White led the Pointers with 18 points, with 11 for Owen.

Bridges said his senior-led team of Sterrenberg, Johnson, Monroe, Jack Bridges and Clark have not only brought great success to the program, but have also changed the face of Cabot basketball completely.

“It’s been fun coaching him,” Bridges said of Sterrenberg. “And we’re coming down to that final stretch run. Cabot basketball used to be the laughing stock of 6A/7A, I don’t care what you say. These young men have worked hard to change that. I’m not going to lie, it helps to have an Adam Sterrenberg and Austin Johnson. But dadgummit, Gary Clark, Jack Bridges and Miles Monroe do a great job too for us. I can’t lie, I just try to stay out of his way and not screw him up.”

Cabot finished the regular season out last night at Russellville.