Monday, February 13, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot plows over Mavs with defense

Leader sports editor

Cabot had little trouble with Fort Smith Southside on Tuesday at Panther Arena. After the first quarter, they had none as they skated to a 66-32 victory. It was the last of three-straight games against the bottom two teams in the conference, and kicks off a brutal five-game run to end the regular season.

Before playing winless Catholic twice, and Southside (6-13, 2-7) Cabot had lost two of its previous three games in controversial fashion. Coach Jerry Bridges was glad for a bit of a respite before hitting the season-ending grind.

“We needed this stretch,” said Bridges. “We’re in the playoffs so that feels good to be over that hurdle. Now we hit these last five games to try and get as good a position as we can. And we better be ready because these are five really good teams.”

The Mavericks scored first when Will Smith made a 3-pointer from the corner just seconds into the game. Defensively, Southside was intent on keeping Cabot from scoring inside. Early on, the Panthers were settling for outside shots and not hitting them. That led to a 10-6 Southside lead with three minutes left in the first quarter.

At that point, the Panthers had taken only one shot from inside the 3-point line, and were 2 for 7 from 3-point range.

Even though the inside game never opened up much, when the Panthers began throwing the ball into the paint, the defensive collapses opened things up for outside shooters. That’s when Cabot started hitting, and hitting often.

“Teams are working so hard to stop our big men,” Bridges said. “Our guards have been taking advantage of that, but we still have to execute. I don’t think we were running our offense like we’re supposed to early. When we started doing that, our guards got open shots and shot the ball well.”

Bridges felt the same way about his defense.