A slow start proved too much to overcome for El Dorado, which dropped its basketball home opener to Cabot 63-47 Thursday at Wildcat Arena.
The Panthers scored the first nine points of the game and never trailed. The Wildcats, who fell to 2-1, pulled to within 45-43 with 5:17 left in the game.
“Any time you have a slow start you put yourself at a disadvantage trying to come back and fight into it,” said El Dorado coach Jimmy Porter. “I believe at halftime we were down by 11, ended up winning the third quarter from a point spread standpoint, which is what we were preaching at halftime. Let’s win the third quarter and give ourselves a chance to win the game.
“It was a one-point game twice in the fourth quarter. We got a little lazy on the defensive end and let them get downhill to get some easy lay-ups.”
Laronte McHenry led the Wildcats with 25 points.
McHenry hit two free throws to cut El Dorado’s deficit to two but the Panthers’ Grant Goodard scored inside and Jermaine Christopher scored on a drive to the hoop, plus the foul for a 50-43 lead with 4:36 remaining.
McHenry hit a free throw but Austin King answered for Cabot followed by another bucket by Goodard, pushing the lead to 54-44 with 3:31 remaining.
El Dorado did not hit a field goal in the final seven minutes of the game. Cabot closed the fourth quarter with seven unanswered points.
Christopher led Cabot with 14 points while Goodard added 12. Gavin Muse and King each scored nine.
“Overall, I can’t fault our effort. The guys didn’t quit,” said Porter. “This was a really good Cabot team. People don’t realize how good that Cabot team really is. They shoot the ball really well from the perimeter. They’ve got a good guard who can make plays for them.
“But, I believe our boys could’ve beat them if we had executed on the offensive end. We’ve got some things we’ve got to fix. We’ve got to fix some rebounding stuff. We have to fix the turnover situation tonight and we need more movement on the offensive end. At times the ball got stagnant. They were running a pack line defense and that was the first time my guys have seen the pack line defense. You can tell we were kind of struggling with it. The ball stuck to one side of the floor too much.”
Santoine Kendrix hit three 3-pointers for the Wildcats and Deon James scored eight before fouling out.
McHenry, who signed a letter-of-intent with Harding earlier in the afternoon, scored 12 of the Wildcats’ final 15 points of the game.
“I thought Laronte did a real good job tonight getting the ball in his hands and operating through him,” said Porter. “But, at times the ball was too stagnant to one side of the floor.”
Cabot led 17-8 after one quarter and 35-26 at the half. The Panthers led 38-26 midway in the third before James converted a three-point play and then hit a 3-pointer. McHenry scored off a feed from Kendrix to cut the margin to 38-34.
The Panthers carried a 42-36 advantage into the fourth.
McHenry turned a steal into a lay-up before Kendrix drained a 3-pointer from the left wing, slicing the deficit to 42-41 with 7:02 left to play.
The Wildcats would not hit another field goal the rest of the way.