SPORTS >> Closing seconds unkind as Cabot drops close one
By TODD TRAUB
Leader sports editor
Cabot cut Van Buren down to size Tuesday, but Pointers sophomore guard Deven Goodwin slashed the Panthers’ hopes for a victory.
Goodwin drove into the lane and hit a short floater with 19 seconds left as Van Buren beat Cabot 52-50 in a 7A-Central Conference game at Cabot.
The Panthers tied it at 50 when Alex Baker made two free throws with 53 seconds left. Van Buren then broke past Cabot’s man-to-man pressure to get the ball to Goodwin, who drove from the left, made a jump stop and scored from the right.
Baker’s last-second, 15-footer against a double team was off to the left as Van Buren held on.
“We can second guess ourselves all we want, but you know, heck, what can I ask?” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “I can’t ask any more out of our kids.”
Goodwin’s game-winner accounted for the last of his six points.
“He had a lane, guy slid over and he’s good enough to come to a little jump stop and a little floater off the glass,” Van Buren coach Randy Loyd said. “And luckily it went in for us.”
Loyd labeled Goodwin a “winner,” but admitted the sophomore point guard had been frustrated earlier by Cabot’s pressure.
The Panthers also did a solid defensive job on the Pointers’ 7-foot junior center Hooper Vint, holding him to just 10 points. But Vint was able to distribute the ball to Van Buren’s outside men Logan Patterson and Tyler Spoon, who had four and three 3-pointers, respectively.
Vint also made two free throws that gave Van Buren a 48-45 lead with 1:42 left and got a rebound leading to free throws by Goodwin that made it 49-45 with 1:07 left. Vint also got the final defensive rebound to make sure Cabot got no follow-up shot after Baker’s late miss.
“Hoop’s a great passer and he looks and he’s not selfish,” Loyd said. “Sometimes he’s unselfish, sometimes, but he makes the plays and we’ve got some guys that can shoot it from the perimeter and that helps for sure.”
Bridges praised Christian Armstrong who led the defensive effort in containing Vint, but said it was tough to defend everything Van Buren had.
“It’s sort of a double-edge sword,” Bridges said. “Do we front him and let him lob over and shoot over more runts? That’s all we have on the backside. So our goal was to play behind him and see if we could get him pushed out a little further.
“At times he got us down low and we’re at his mercy then, to be honest.”
Baker, Cabot’s leading scorer with 20 points, made a three-pointer from the left corner to cut it to 50-48 with 57 seconds left and he drew a foul from Goodwin to make his tying free throws.
Bridges said Baker’s shot on Cabot’s final possession didn’t quite play out as it was drawn up.
“If I could do it over now with what happened we might have called a timeout, okay?” Bridges said. “But we did have something drawn up and we failed to get in our spots to execute it. Alex tried to make a great play at the end and about hit a great shot for us.”
Bridges said he had drawn up the final play during the previous sequence and was reluctant to call timeout for fear Van Buren would switch defenses, then Cabot had players out of position when the possession started.
“If he wouldn’t have got the look we feel like we could have gotten it to someone else,” Bridges said. “Hindsight is 20-20.”
But Bridges was proud of Cabot’s effort against a taller team that featured Vint and Drew White, 6-5. Cabot’s tallest players are Kai Davis, a thin 6-4, Bridges said, and Armstrong.
“Armstrong may be 6-2 if we put three pairs of socks on him,” Bridges said.
Cabot lost point guard Seth Bloomberg to fouls with just under four minutes left, yet rallied from a 44-38 deficit, getting within 46-45 when Davis scored on an inbounds play with close to two minutes left and tying it on Baker’s free throws.
Darin Jones added 10 points for Cabot (7-10, 5-1) and Bloomberg scored eight. Patterson scored 14 points to lead Van Buren (16-4, 4-2) while Spoon and White added 10 each.
“We know we’re not the biggest group in the world,” Bridges said. “We know right now we’re not where we want to be by any means. But I promise if you come to practice tomorrow and watch us practice, we don’t practice like we’re 1-5 in conference right now.
“We’re going to keep battling and we’re going to fight to try to get a playoff spot. That’s our goal when we started. We could have laid down against a very good team and we didn’t.”