Saturday, June 21, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers win four at camp this week

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot boys’ basketball team had an overall solid showing at its team camp this week at Panther Arena. The Panthers played two games each on Tuesday and Thursday, and won all four.

Cabot beat Russellville and England on Tuesday, and on Thursday, the Panthers beat Bryant 33-17 and dominated Little Rock Catholic en route to a 40-16 win.

The format for the games played at the team camp consisted of two 20-minute halves with a continuous clock, and even though the Panthers competed to win each game played, Cabot coach Jerry Bridges wanted to ultimately use those games as a way to further develop each player on his roster, and find out who can step up and contribute to the varsity squad once fall camp begins.

“We’re getting better, and that’s what this time’s about,” said Bridges. “Any time a score is kept, we want to win, but I want to do it within the framework. I feel good about our first six to seven players.

“We’re developing seven, eight and nine now, so coach (Nathan) Brown and I can get an idea of who’s going to be some of our depth. I think our chemistry is getting there. Earlier, our defense and execution was terrible, but it looked a lot better tonight.”

The Panthers jumped on Bryant at the start of their first game Thursday. Cabot led 9-1, and Bryant was never able to really close the gap. The Panthers took their first double-digit lead at 18-7 on a bucket inside the paint by sophomore guard Jarrod Barnes.

Jared Dixon got the assist on that play, and he earned another assist before the half ended after he connected with fellow junior Hunter Southerland underneath the basket for another easy lay in, which gave Cabot a 20-7 cushion at the end of the first half.

Cabot pushed its lead to as much as 31-12 with 9:18 left to play in the second half after Barnes got a steal and layup at the offensive end. Bryant scored the next four points before Chandler Casteele set Cabot’s point total with an inside bucket that was set up by a pass from the top of the key by Garrett Rowe.

Casteele’s basket came with just under a minute to play, and Bryant added a free throw in the waning seconds to set the final score of that game.

Like they did against Bryant, the Panthers jumped on the visiting Rockets early in Cabot’s second game of the evening. The Panthers led 24-10 at the end of the first half and 11 of Cabot’s points scored in that time came from Rowe, who had the hot hand offensively.

“We found where he needs to be for us offensively,” Bridges said of Rowe. “I think he’s going to be real good before it’s over. He’s just a junior. He’s going to be good for us. Really, him, Dixon and Southerland, those three juniors, I really think they’re going to be something for the next two years for us.”

Cabot pushed its lead to 20 near the seven-minute mark of the second half on a baseline floater by senior Tyler Hill, which put the Panthers up 35-15. Hill’s one of only two seniors on the team along with fellow two-guard Jake Ferguson, who was busy attending the University of Arkansas football camp this week.

“Tyler Hill was the only senior out there tonight,” Bridges said. “He does a lot of that stuff that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. He does a lot of good things. He’s heady for us. He makes those extra passes and he hits those shots when he’s left open. What I like about him is he’s heady and he understands what we want to do.”

Rowe led all scorers in both games Thursday. He scored 12 points against Bryant and 15 against Catholic.