Leader Blues

Thursday, February 21, 2008

SPORTS >>Cabot holds on for close victory

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Add Cabot head coach Jerry Bridges to the list of coaches who don’t enjoy the endless seed scenarios that dominate basketball discussions this time of year.

And, yet, the Panthers find themselves right in the middle of one of those scenarios.
The Panthers held off Pine Bluff for a vital 59-57 win last Friday on the road, which kept them in the running for a No. 3 or No. 4 seed for the 7A state tournament.

Cabot has known for nearly two weeks now that it was making a playoff appearance for the first time in 31 years with at least a No. 6 seed. The close wins and losses since then (five straight games decided by two points or less) have only added to the seeding confusion.

“As long as we’re in the thing, I could care less to be honest with you,” Bridges said. “Give us the No. 6 seed, bring on the three-seed out of the West. I don’t care. We’ll just beat them and prove that if we came out of the West, we would deserve at least a No. 3 seed; that’s the way I look at that.”

The win over Pine Bluff was led by the dual junior attack of Austin Johnson and Adam Sterrenberg. Johnson led with 22 points, and Sterrenberg added 20 points for the Panthers.

At press time, Cabot sat in a tie for fourth place with Bryant, both with 7-6 records. The Panthers hold the tiebreaker after winning the first meeting by 11 points, compared to a two-point decision for Bryant last week. Conway, at 8-5, is only one game ahead of the Panthers in third, and North Little Rock sat a half-game behind in sixth placewith a 6-6 record in the 7A-Central Conference.

Bryant also played last night at Little Rock Central, and a loss by the Hornets and a win for Cabot will make the Panthers the No. 4 seed, whereas the opposite will land Bryant in the four-seed and Cabot a five.
With all that, Bridges said that teams should be thankful to just make it, and not get so caught up in the seeding.

“That’s all your football coaches bringing that stuff up,” Bridges said. “There’s not nearly as much parody in football as what we have. Let’s compare players — how many around the state have gone to the NBA as opposed to the NFL? Let’s see who really makes a big impact.

“I want to finish up as high as we can get, but that’s just because I don’t like to lose. You could probably put all eight teams from each conference in the tournament and still have a good one, but I realize that it has to mean something for teams to make it in.”

The Panthers are now 18-9 overall. Cabot hosted Russellville last night after Leader deadlines to finish out the regular season before the state tournament begins next Tuesday.

The Lady Panthers fell 53-50 to drop into a three-way tie for third place with Little Rock Central and Pine Bluff at 7-6.
Lauren Walker led the Lady Panthers with 23 points. Fellow senior and point guard Leah Watts added 19 points for Cabot. The Lady Panthers are now 16-10 on the season.