The Cabot Junior High North Lady Panthers capped off a great season Saturday with a trip to the finals of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference Tournament on Saturday at Panther Arena.
Cabot North finished as the regular-season conference champs, but came up short in the tourney finals against Conway Blue, 48-38.
"Our goal to start the season is to win the conference and we did that," said Cabot North coach Jeremy Halbrook. "Of course, you want to win the tournament too, but we were just one win short of that."
The tournament trophy looked as good as theirs in the opening minutes against the Lady Wampus Cats as Cabot took a quick 7-0 lead and led 12-5 after the first quarter.
Conway Blue came storming back behind Futura Banks and Alexis Tolefree. Banks did the work inside, slashing to the basket, while Tolefree seemed to make every three-pointer and off-balance shot she tossed up. Banks finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five steals. Tolefree scored 25 points as no other Conway Blue player made a field goal.
Cabot North lost the lead near the end of the first half, but wouldn’t make the win easy for Conway Blue.
The Lady Wampus Cats led by 10 points midway through the third quarter. Free throws from Lily Sinclair and a basket from CoCo Calhoun cut into that lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Calhoun made a basket and a three-pointer to cut into another 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t find her touch outside of those three baskets.
"We kind of count on CoCo to be our scorer, but this just wasn’t her day. It happens," said Halbrook. "She was exhausted by the end of the game from playing defense and rebounding as hard as she could."
After the three-pointer cut Conway Blue’s lead to 43-36, Tolefree responded by scoring the next five points to help secure the win for the Lady Cats.
"I’m proud of all hard this team has worked all season," said Halbrook. "They haven’t lost very many games since seventh grade and I think will be ready to help out the high school next year."
Mackenzie Sexton came off the bench to lead the Lady Panthers with 13 points. Sinclair scored 12 points, while Calhoun had seven points. Claire Eifling scored three points, Maddie Rice had two and Rachel Allgood added a free throw for Cabot North.