Friday, March 03, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> No repeat for Panthers

Leader sports editor

VAN BUREN – Things didn’t quite as smoothly as head coach Jerry Bridges would have liked on Wednesday, but his team is stayed alive. That wasn’t the case on Friday when the Panthers’ season came to an end. Cabot’s bid to repeat as Class 7A state champions ended with a 53-43 loss to Springdale Har-Ber in the quarterfinal round.

The Panthers suffered their worst shooting night of the season, especially from the outside. They made just 12 of 51 from the floor, and only 3 of 24 from 3-point range as it played from behind almost the entire game.

“We were 12 of 51, it’s incredible we didn’t get mercy ruled,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “I thought we played hard, we just couldn’t make our shots. In the state tournament you’re going to have a bad game and you have to overcome that. We didn’t shoot well enough to overcome that today. We’re better shooters than that.”

Bridges became emotional when he tried to convey what this team has been like to coach this season.

“I love my seniors,” Bridges said. “Without those seniors we don’t do what we did last year. They made me look good because 13 years ago I got back in it hoping I’d be able to coacha team back to a state title. People thought I was crazy for going to Cabot. There wasn’t a lot of basketball tradition at Cabot and these guys helped change all that.”

Bridges gave the Wildcats credit for playing good defense, and Har-Ber coach Scott Bowlin was also proud of his squad.

“We talked about when it comes to the state tournament you have to be able to play good defense and rebound,” said Scott Bowlin. “I thought we did a good job at both of those tonight.”

Matt Stanley led Cabot (20-7) with his second double-double of the tournament. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds. He was the only Panther in double figures. Point guard Tylor Perry led all scorers with 18 points. Tyler Garrett and Ryan Taylor added 14 each for the Wildcats, who shot 15 of 36 from the floor and 7 of 19 from 3-point range.

Cabot advanced to the quarterfinals with a 56-44 win over Rogers Heritage on Wednesday.

After a three-and-a-half-quarter tussle with the War Eagles, Cabot went on a 12-0 run in just more than two minutes to turn a 42-41 lead into 54-41 and seal the victory.

Jarrod Barnes got the rim to start the run. Bobby Joe Duncan then took a charge and Stanley scored at the other end. Stanley then got a steal in the halfcourt set, passed to Barnes who passed to Duncan for a layup that made it 48-41. Stanley then rebounded a miss and Logan Gilbertson scored at the other end. Matt got another rebound and was fouled. He made both ends of a one-and-one trip to the line. Heritage missed again and Stanley again got the rebound. This time Duncan and Jalen Brown were behind the defense. Stanley spotted them and threw an outlet pass to Duncan, who hit Brown for a layup that capped a 12-0 run and put Cabot up 54-41 with 50 seconds to play.

“I thought we just lost focus defensively at times, and offensively, too,” Bridges said. “The turnovers were unforced, senseless stuff. We’re going to have to play better to win the next one, and they know that. I’m proud of them for buckling down in that fourth quarter and getting the job done.”

Stanley posted a double-double in leading all players in two categories. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Duncan added 13 for Cabot.

Seth Stanley led Heritage (15-13) with 14 points and six rebounds.