The Cabot Panthers got to play some extra basketball in their first real game of the season in Monday night’s 57-51 double overtime loss to the Conway Wampus Cats at Panther Arena.
Neither team put together an offensive showcase in the first half, where Cabot trailed 17-12 at halftime. Early in the third quarter, the Panthers were 4 of 11 from the free throws line and had more turnovers than points. Despite the sluggish start, the Panthers stayed close the Cats thanks to a stiff defense.
"Man, we had too many turnovers in the first half and missed too many free throws in the first half," said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. "The offense just didn’t have the flow to it that it should. Too many guys standing around. That’s not what we’ve looked like in practice."
Conway had their largest lead with three minutes left in the third quarter at 23-14. Cabot came back with some free throws in the final two minutes, then a steal by Tyler Hill led to an assist to Hunter Southerland, who knocked down a buzzer-beater just inside the three-point line, sending Cabot to the fourth quarter with a little bit of momentum, now trailing 23-20.
Cabot took their first lead in the fourth quarter since the opening minutes of the game. Shooting 8 of 19 from the line for the game as a team, the Panthers finally found a hot hand in Hunter York when the senior scored nine straight points for the home team. York made five straight free throws at one point, sandwiched around a three-pointer that gave the Panthers a 30-29 lead. Another free throw by York and a putback from Southerland gave the Panthers their largest lead at 33-29.
Conway retook the lead in the next minute thanks to a three-pointer and a three-point play. Sophomore Panther Garrett Rowe scored his first bucket of the game in the final seconds to send the game to overtime tied 36-36.
In the first overtime period, York scored the first three points of the period, but Conway scored the final three points as the score was tied 41-41 and headed to a sixth period of play. Conway’s final points in the first overtime came on free throws after York fouled out of the game.
Without the senior hot hand on the court for Cabot, and with Conway’s leader still in the game and playing with confidence, the Panthers couldn’t keep up with the Wampus Cats over the final four minutes. Conway jumped ahead early in the second OT and never allowed the Panthers to tie again. A three by Jeremiah Penner brought the Panthers within two at 51-49, but they could get no closer.
"We had a few silly fouls in the second half and overtime," said Bridges. "We’ve got to grow up a little more in that regard. You’ve got to know the situation with who you’re guarding and the time left and be a little wiser with our fouls."
York led the Panthers with 14 points, while Michael Smith added nine points. Rowe, Penner and Southerland scored seven each, while Adolpho Iglesias scored six and Nick Thomas added a free throw.