CONWAY -- Terry Clardy capped an unlikely Conway comeback with an even more improbable shot.
Clardy, a 6-3 senior forward, banked in a running 12-footer as time expired to hand the No. 7 Wampus Cats a 47-45 victory over Cabot on Friday night at Buzz Bolding Arena.
Conway (17-5, 8-2) trailed 45-41 with 52.7 seconds remaining but forced turnovers on back-to-back inbound plays to set the stage for a dramatic 6A-Central Conference finish.
"I was ready for overtime, and I really couldn't believe that we would go into overtime," Conway Coach Brian "Salty" Longing said.
Longing had every reason to believe his team was headed for its second loss in its last four games when Cabot's Jacob Hudson got behind a defender for a break-away dunk with 52.7 seconds remaining. Six seconds later, Conway's Caleb London missed two free throws and the ball went out of bounds off a Wampus Cat.Gallery: Cabot vs Conway Boys Basketball
But Cabot (16-7, 4-6) let this one slip away.
Conway forced a five-second call and Clardy followed by making a nifty move under the basket to cut Cabot's advantage to 45-43. Two seconds later, Conway junior Trey Tull stole the inbound pass and handed the ball to Clardy, who was fouled.
Clardy hit both free throws to tie the game at 45-45.
"That was huge," Conway sophomore Bryce Bohannon said. "If we don't get those stops, we don't win the game."
"I just felt like it was time for me to take the game over," said Clardy, who scored the game's final six points. "I did what I could to try to get the job done."
Cabot worked for a final shot, but a traveling violation with 0.5 seconds left ended the possession.
Enter Bohannon, who found Clardy streaking toward the goal on the inbounds pass. Clardy caught the ball, turned and hit the game-winner over two Cabot defenders.
"We were supposed to throw the ball to Kylen [Milton]," Bohannon said. "But I saw Terry get open. ... I threw it to him and he hit the shot. Honestly, I didn't think he'd get the shot off, but he found a way."
"Bryce just decides to throw the ball down to Terry. He turns, spins and banks one in," Longing said. "I'd love to take credit for drawing it up but that was just a sophomore taking a look at what he had and throwing it down the floor."
London, who scored 30 points in Tuesday's victory over North Little Rock, led the Wampus Cats with 14 points. Clardy finished with 12 points, 7 of which came in the fourth quarter. Milton added eight.
Hudson's 23 points paced Cabot while junior Jackson Muse added 10.
Cabot led 20-17 at the half. Conway hit 7 of its first 10 shots to start the second half to take a 36-27 advantage with 2:22 left in the third quarter but then went scoreless over the next 4:26 to allow Cabot to regain the lead.
"This team could be really good if we learn to play with a sense of urgency for four quarters," Longing said. "That's our bugaboo from time to time. Credit Cabot. They know what we're good at. Tonight they took the lane away and made us settle for jump shots and they made it hard for us to throw it inside. Every possession was a labor. That's as well as we've been defended all year."
Conway’s Terry Clardy (35) goes up for a shot Friday during the Wampus Cats’ 47-45 victory over the Cabot Panthers in Conway.
Conway’s Jakilyn Kaiser (right) goes up for a shot while being defended by Cabot’s Jacob Hudson during Friday night’s game in Conway.
Sports on 02/09/2019
Print Headline: Majestic final play finishes Conway's comeback victory