An 11-0 run in the fourth quarter could get the Conway Wampus Cats out of a giant rut Friday night against the defending 7A boys champions.
Conway (5-5, 11-10) began the fourth quarter at Buzz Bolding Arena trailing Cabot, 46-34.
The Cats used a trapping defense and got inside for baskets and foul shots to draw within 46-45 with 2:55 left.
Jared Barnes stopped the run with a 3-pointer and, after a Conway turnover, Noah Allgood broke for a layup off a no-look feed from Bobby Joe Duncan. Conway missed inside and two free throws by Barnes with 57 seconds left gave the Panthers (18-3, 8-2) a six-point lead that fueled a 59-50 victory at Buzz Bolding Arena.
The win solidified Cabot’s hold on second place in 7A Central while Conway fell in the middle of the pack with Fort Smith Northside and Little Rock Central, the other top teams, just ahead this week. Conway is tied with Central for fourth.
“We began attacking the rim and playing team basketball,” said Conway coach Will Johnson of the comeback. “We dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half (trailing 32-24). We were not rebounding and they (the Pantheres) got most of the loose balls. We are normally a good rebounding team. We weren’t in the first half.”
The Cats missed seven free throws and that was deceptive because some of those were front of one-and-ones.
“We’ve got to do a batter job of hitting free throws in key situations,” Johnson said.
Cabot guard Bobby Joe Duncan, who tormented the Cats in a victory in the first meeting, again was a nemesis for the Cats. He scored 21 points but also steadied the Panthers on the floor and broke down the Cat defense with assists for inside baskets. Allgood added 10 and Barnes nine.
Kendarious Smith was the only player in double figures for Conway with 24 points.
Conway (f20-6, 7-3) found a gear in a hurry against the Lady Panthers (15-8, 4-6), going from to lightning speed in fewer than eight minutes in a 60-20 romp.
Cabot began the game with a deliverate offense and the Lady Cats only led, 8-6, with less than two minutes to go in the first quarter.
Conway began the second quarter with an 18-0 run and outscored Cabot, 20-3, in the second quarter and poured it on after that in a mercy-rule game.
“We made some defensive adjustments,” CHS coach Ashley Nance said. “We moved out to put more pressure on the wings and we got some deflections that led to layups. We knew they were going to try to slow it down but we got the game going to our style of basketball.”
Jacie Higgins scored 17 points for the Cats. Savannah Lowe added nine, Myia Yelder, eight, and Fut’ra Banks seven.
The Lady Cats’ game at Fort Smith Northside on Tuesday will likely decide third place in 7A Central.