Leader Blues

Monday, February 19, 2007

SPORTS>>Playoffs hope over for young Panthers

Leader sports writer

The Panthers held out a slim hope of slipping into one of the final 7A state playoff spots until Tuesday’s 66-52 loss to Bryant mathematically knocked them out of contention. The Panthers only trailed by six points at halftime, but the Hornets would not allow them to close that gap in the second half. Instead, Bryant slowly pulled away, and took Cabot’s post-season hopes with them.

“We’re playing for pride from here on out,” Panthers coach Jerry Bridges said. “We had our shot, okay, but we’re out of it now. These are good kids, and they’re not going to lay down now. It’s been hard for them to endure a lot of things this year, but I feel like they have taken it all in stride.”

Adam Sterrenberg led the Panthers with 28 points. Alex Sharp added 12 points for Cabot. Although they were very competitive in all but a few of their league games, Cabot’s 2-10 conference record puts them out of the chase for one of the six seeds from the Central Conference. Bridges made no excuses for their record, but also acknowledged his teams’ disadvantage when it came to experience compared to a number of their conference rivals.

“Yeah, it’s a tough conference,” Bridges said. “But we came from a tough conference before. There’s not much difference between 6A and 7A. Heck, Jonesboro and Forrest City are probably better than just about anyone in 7A. “Experience as a big thing for us; Experience and confidence. If you go back to those three games we lost by four points, what if we could have won those? That would have done wonders for our confidence, but when you lose those like we did, it can affect your whole psyche.”

The Lady Panthers kept themselves in a second-place tie with Conway in the 7A-Central standings with a 67-46 win over the Lady Hornets. The win improved Cabot’s record to 19-5 overall and 9-3 in conference. The Cabot teams played their final home game of the season last night against visiting Pine Bluff, before ending their regular season on the road at Russellville on Tuesday.