Leader Blues

Friday, February 13, 2009

SPORTS >> Panthers make it five straight

Leader sports writer

It wasn’t like his teammates were just standing around watching.

Austin Johnson finished the game with 13 points, Jack Bridges had eight assists, and Gary Clark had a couple of key steals, along with five rebounds. And Miles Monroe had a strong second half on the boards to lead with seven rebounds.

But it all paled compared to Adam Sterrenberg’s 35-point outburst that sealed Cabot’s 66-54 win over North Little Rock on Tuesday night at Wildcat Arena.

The win left Cabot (17-5, 7-2) tied for first in the 7A-Central standings with Conway, and left NLR (12-9, 7-3) a half-game back in third.

Sterrenberg hit from all points on the floor, from a pair of dunks to a buzzer beating three-pointer from long distance to end the first quarter. He went 8 of 11 at the line.

“When Adam’s stuff is falling, he can score in so many different ways,” said Panthers coach Jerry Bridges. “He can be hard to defend. Most importantly, this win puts us back in the state tournament. That was our first goal for the year to qualify for state. This win most likely clinches us. The rest now is just jockeying for position.”

Charging Wildcats guard Omar Nichols did his best to pace Sterrenberg in the second half, and started out on the right track. Nichols finished with a team high 21 points for North Little Rock, eight of which came in the final two minutes of the third quarter.

The third quarter was least productive for Sterrenberg, with only five points, but nine more for Johnson, including 5 of 6 at the line, helped keep momentum on Cabot’s side. Post man Monroe recovered after adapting to the extremely physical play under the goal in the first half by Wildcats post Terry Tidwell. Monroe scored his four points on a pair of critical putbacks in the third quarter that gave the Panthers a 31-25 lead.

“I thought Miles did a good job on Tidwell,” Bridges said. “Austin played a tough game as well. Adam was incredible; he did a heck of a job, and the team did a good job of finding him and feeding him the ball.”

No one gave better feeds on the night than senior Jack Bridges, who finished with eight assists. The best of those came at the 3:46 mark of the second quarter when Bridges, who was at the left wing, delivered a cross-court pass to Sterrenberg, who drilled his fourth three of the night to put the Panthers up 24-18. The ASU signee finished with five three-point baskets.

Sterrenberg’s hot hand led to a 21 of 41 night from the field for Cabot, including 6 of 13 from three-point land. The Charging Wildcats struggled from the floor, hitting 19 of 51, including seven straight misses to start the second half.

Cabot edged North Little Rock in the rebounding battle 26-21. Both teams had eight turnovers for the game.

The Wildcat rally was not to be in the final period. Sterrenberg and Johnson combined to go 6 of 9 at the foul line, with eight more from Sterrenberg from the field. Nichols continued to drive the lane for the Wildcats, and went 5 of 5 at the stripe. Nichols scored 18 of his points in the second half.

Cabot hosted Little Rock Central last night, and will be at Bryant on Tuesday.