Friday, June 12, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers can learn from loss to Bryant

By GRAHAM POWELL Leader sportswriter

The Cabot High School basketball team began its summer schedule this week, and after participating in a camp at Hendrix College in Conway on Tuesday, the Panthers hosted several exhibition games at Panther Arena on Thursday.

Cabot’s varsity and junior varsity teams opened play Thursday with a pair of comfortable victories over Little Rock Catholic, and ended the night with games against Bryant.

The JV Panthers beat the Hornets’ JV team 43-23 in their exhibition game, and the varsity Panthers lost a competitive 37-31 game to the Bryant varsity team. The varsity game was a physical one.

Cabot jumped out to a 9-1 lead to start the exhibition, but the Hornets responded with a 13-5 run to take its first lead at 14-13, and the visitors never relinquished the lead from there.

“We’re better than what we showed tonight, but we lost our head a little bit,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “I was disappointed we lost our composure, and I think that’s what took the game out of our hands.”

A pair of two-handed slams by Vilonia transfer Matt Stanley helped Cabot to its 9-1 lead. Bryant called timeout to regroup, and responded with its run that helped it to a six-point lead at the end of the 20-minute half.

A driving left-handed lay-in by Stanley with 3:30 remaining brought the Panthers within 32-30 of Bryant’s lead in the second half, and Stanley made 1 of 2 free throws with 1:44 left that made it a one-point game, with Cabot trailing 32-31. But that was as close as the Panthers would get.

Bryant made 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to set the final score of the exhibition.

“We’re trying to develop more depth and they’re getting better,” Bridges said of his team. “We’re platooning. We’ve got in our head who we think our top six or seven is, and five of those best ones are what we’ll try to start the second half with, but we’re going to platoon the other group, too.

“They outplayed us that game, but there was a lot we can learn from that game, and if we learn from it, we’ll be all right.”

Stanley led all scorers with 16 points in that game.

The JV game wasn’t nearly as competitive, but it was competitive in the early goings. Consecutive buckets by Jaylin Brown, the second of which being a 3-pointer from the top of the key, gave the JV Panthers an 11-10 lead, and the hosts closed the opening half with an 8-0 run to lead 19-10 at the break.

Landon Vaught’s second bucket of the second half gave Cabot a 24-14 lead early on. The Panther lead grew to 15 on a three by Christian Weir with 6:41 to play, which made it a 33-18 game, and with 4:45 remaining, Jared Vance hit a three that pushed the Panthers’ lead to 20, with the score 38-18.

Cabot scored five more unanswered points to take its largest lead at 43-18, but the Hornets closed the game with five unanswered points to set the final score.

Vaught led all scorers with 11 points in the JV game. Brown and Vance contributed nine points apiece.

The Panthers will host more summer exhibition games on Tuesday at Panther Arena. The CHS varsity team will begin the day with a game against Pulaski Academy at 4 p.m., and the Cabot/PA JV game will follow at 4:45.