Lady Devils grind out win
AWM still perfect in league play after vanquishing Cabot
WM School District There's little room for error the way the Class 7A-East Conference is aligned.
With only three teams to compete against and three state tournament berths available, coaches have to start figuring out early which league games are considered must wins.
The West Memphis Lady Devils captured one of those must wins last Friday night at Lehr Arena, defeating Cabot 38-36.
Now 13-3 overall and 3-0 in the 7A/6A-East Conference, the Lady Devils are 1-0 against 7A competition in their conference. And with an imposing Little Rock Central awaiting the West Memphis girls this Friday and later on a date with always strong North Little Rock, the home squad has to figure that beating Cabot was imperative.
'This is what 7A ball is all about,' said West Memphis head coach Shelia Burns. 'We knew Cabot wasn't going to lay down for us tonight. If we want to go to the state tournament we knew we had to win this game.'
The Lady Devils didn't do it the easy way.
They were shut out from the field in the fourth quarter, missing on all four of their field-goal attempts.
But they sank three free throws in the final 2:53 of the game and then held off the Lady Panthers (11-8, 12) on one final dramatic inbounds play.
With 4.3 seconds to play, Cabot had to go the length of the floor to get a shot off. Its inbounds pass to just past halfcourt, however, was intercepted by West Memphis' Niyah Townsend, who secured the ball long enough to run out the clock.
'Niyah is a player who seems to make big plays when they matter most,' said Burns. 'She's one of those players who seems to be in the right place at the right time.'
The Lady Devils never trailed the entire way. They came out of the blocks on fire, building an 11-4 lead and even though the hosts built their biggest lead of the night, at 31-19 late in the third quarter, Cabot refused to give in.
Cabot tied the game 35-35 on a basket following a steal by Anna Sullivan with 3:58 to play. That was the last field goal scored in the game.
Lady Devils veteran Sable Greer hit three of four free throws to push her team on top 38-35 and all the Lady Panthers could get was a free throw by Haley Sobczak with 1:38 to play.
West Memphis, which made only 11 field goals for the game, had trouble getting the ball inside to 64 LaShala Saine and fellow post player Ty Bullins. Cabot's size, combined with its zone and doubleteaming made it difficult for the Lady Devils to do what they do best.
'Every time Shala was close to the blocks it was a slide down from behind and slide in front of her from a guard,' said Burns. 'They scouted us very well.'
West Memphis won despite 20 turnovers, but its on-ball defense was excellent all night. The Lady Devils forced Cabot
to miss on its first 12 fieldgoal attempts.
Senior guard Anquanetta Chatt hit a team-high 10 points, all of them coming in the second half. Greer added nine, seven of which came from the free-throw line, and Townsend and Morgan Christian each scored seven.
Cabot got a game-high total of 11 points from Sullivan while Nicole Calhoun added 10.
By Billy Woods