The Cabot Panthers went home a little early in the Class 7A state tournament, but did succeed in their goal of winning a game in the tournament.
Cabot took down the Rogers Heritage War Eagles 58-51 in the opening round of the state tournament. It was Cabot’s first win in the postseason since 2009.
The Panthers fell in the second round, 67-36 to the Bentonville Tigers as they struggled with Bentonville’s size.
Against Heritage, size was also the difference, but this time it worked in Cabot’s favor.
The Panthers had a size advantage down low against the guard-oriented War Eagles. Cabot had planned all along to work the ball in the paint and play their inside-out offensive attack.
"I thought we could take advantage of getting the ball down to our bigs," said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. "I thought the first half, we did a good job of that. We thought we could do something against them down inside. That was one of the goals, to play inside-out basketball."
Sophomore post Garrett Rowe had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Panthers. Guard Jake Ferguson had one of his best games of the season with 14 points and seven rebounds.
A defensive team at heart, Cabot held Heritage’s top players well below their season average in points. They also had a solid rebounding advantage over the War Eagles.
Cabot led by as many as 17 points in the second half before the War Eagles pulled within five at one point in the fourth quarter.
While Ferguson and Rowe led Cabot, several other Panthers got in on the action.
Adolpho Iglesias scored seven points, Michael Smith and Hunter Southerland each had six points, while Hunter York added five points. Jarrod Barnes had three points, while Nick Thomas and Jeremiah Penner each had a pair of points.
Against Bentonville, Cabot just couldn’t get anything going against Malik Monk and the rest of the Tigers. Monk led all scorers with 23 points.
The Tigers scored the game’s first eight points and led 18-2 after the first quarter. Cabot (17-11) didn’t make its first field goal until early in the second quarter as the Tigers stretched the lead to 26-4 in the second quarter.
"They just jumped on us early," Bridges said. "And they’re good. You’ve got to give them credit. They’re more than just Monk. Their size really affected us."