SPORTS >> Outage hits Cabot girls in early exit
Leader sports writer
VAN BUREN – Fort Smith Southside did not allow Cabot a fourth-quarter field goal until the final minute as it advanced from the first round of the 7A state tournament with a 61-52 victory Wednesday at Clair Bates Arena.
The Lady Rebels (12-15) came in as the No. 5 seed from the 7A West, but controlled the momentum against 7A Central No. 4 seed Cabot (11-15) almost from tipoff to buzzer.
“Cabot’s been there so many times,” Lady Rebels coach Sherry White said. “They have tradition. Crowder does a great job with them, and they know what it takes. They were doing everything right in that fourth quarter to beat us, and luckily, we had some free throws that went in.”
Cabot junior guard Kaki Thomas ended a 7:38 field-goal slump for the Lady Panthers with a three-point basket from the right side with 56 seconds left to play that cut Southside’s lead to 56-49, but the Lady Rebels hit 5 of 8 free throws in the final minute and allowed only one more field goal by the Lady Panthers.
“We shot the ball a lot more than them; ours just didn’t go in,” Lady Panthers coach Carla Crowder said. “That would have been great if they would have missed their free throws, but good teams usually aren’t going to miss their free throws at this point.”
Momentum was up for grabs a little more in the first half.
Southside took an 11-2 lead before Cabot rallied with a run that started with a pair of free throws by Sydney Wacker with 3:41 left in the first quarter. Brooke Taylor then scored the first of her 14 points with a running jumper up the middle, and Melissa Wolff cut the lead to 11-8 with a steal at halfcourt she converted into a lay-up with 2:28 left in the quarter.
Wolff scored on a putback with 5:08 left in the half to give the Lady Panthers their only lead, 17-16. Southside then went on a 6-1 run before Wolff and Taylor each hit a basket in the final minute to pull within 25-22 at halftime.
Wolff led the Lady Panthers with 17 points and eight rebounds, six of which were offensive.
Wolff, a sophomore, and Taylor, one of only four juniors on the Cabot roster, will return next year to a team that sported 12 sophomores. Post player Sarah Moore and guard Amber Rock will be the only players lost to graduation.
“We’re young and the kids have really overcome a lot this season,” Crowder said. “They’ve learned a lot, and we have really improved. At the beginning of the season, we didn’t think we would be here. I’m just proud of how hard they’ve worked and what they’ve done throughout the season.”
Senior 5-11 forward Madison Jones led the Lady Rebels with 23 points and seven rebounds, including six rebounds on the defensive side. Emile Gray scored 16 for Southside.
“We had too many turnovers in that first half,” White said. “We came out in the third quarter and did better. I was liking that it was taking them a long time to get a shot off. I hope it was our defense that did that. We have prided ourselves in our defense all year.”