Friday, December 23, 2011

SPORTS >> Panthers make use of time off

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers are off for a long time, but coach Jerry Bridges likes it that way. Cabot’s last game was a win at home against Springdale. Of course it was a win.

They’ve all been wins so far for the 7-0 Panthers. But it was on Dec. 16 and there’s not another game until Jan. 3, again at home against Greene County Tech. That’s nearly three weeks without a game, but it’s a formula that has worked in the past for Bridges and the Panthers.

“We did this last year and had a good run once conference got started,” Bridges said. “We’re going to play hard. We feel like we’re going to guard people and we put a lot of effort into our defense. We ought to be fresh legged and that’s the main thing because after Christmas it’s a grind.”

Evaluating the landscape of the 7A Central, Bryant first comes to Bridges’ mind.

“Bryant is definitely a contender because they have good guard play,” Bridges said. “Their guards are quick and can handle the ball, and their big kid in the middle has gotten a lot better.

“Conway is going to be Conway,” Bridges said. “They always have good athletic guards and this year is no different. North Little Rock got a big lift when they got that transfer from North Pulaski. From the looks of the scores, they’re getting better every game and they’ve without a doubt played the toughest schedule of any of us.”

Bridges also believes Van Buren and Russellville will present difficulties for teams this year.

Bridges still believes he has a team capable of competing with anyone, and the addition of junior Kyle Theilemeyer will only help matters.

“He’s had some foot problems and hasn’t done much since April, but we’re just starting to bring him back gradually and there’s a good possibility we’re going to get him back,” Bridges said. “We’re going to keep playing the 10 guys we’ve been playing, and adding him will be that much more help. He’s very steady and he’s a tall guard. And you can never have too many good guards.”

No one player stands out for Cabot, and that’s something else Bridges doesn’t mind. “They make up a team,” Bridges said. “There might not be a superstar, but they are a team. It’s the most improved group from one year to the next that I’ve ever had.”

“I like this team. They work hard and we’re going to get after it on Tuesday. We want to make it harder than games.”