BULLARD — The Bullard Panthers varsity basketball team has worked its way through the 2005-06 season, and will soon find itself in the midst of postseason action.

For now, the Panthers will have to wait and watch as other teams open playoff action Monday and Tuesday. Bullard was awarded a first-round bye for their performance in the regular season, which is something new for the Panthers.

“They have the experience now, so there is nothing new,” Bullard head coach Ryan Tomlin said of his team and the postseason. “The only thing new is we have a bye in the first round. That was one of our goals, to get that bye. Anytime you can advance with a bye is always a positive thing.

“It’s nothing new. We are just going to hope that we have a little better luck.”

Despite the success of the Panthers, Tomlin said the road to Austin and a chance at a state championship is not going to be easy.

“We have a tough road, being the first place team in our district,” Tomlin said. “Winning the thing didn’t make it any easier. We would have to go through Pittsburg, we have to go through whoever our area-round opponent is going to be — they’re going to be very athletic — and in the regional tournament, the opponent is most likely going to be Princeton.

“It’s a brutal road, but if you are going to get to where you want to go, you are going to have to beat the best teams anyway.”

Bullard has experience in the postseason and in big games. The Panthers players are used to playing with pressure and high expectations, having been ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season, and team leadership has helped them handle all of their challenges.

Brody Greene, Chad Sherman and Miles Hood have been the team and scoring leaders throughout the year. Tomlin said the success of those players was a key to his teams success and he has been pleased with their performances, but the most important thing is getting everyone on the team involved.

“This is what I needed them to do,” Tomlin said of Greene, Sherman and Hood. “I needed Chad and Miles to be around 15 points a game and I new Brody would be around 20 points a game, and I needed our other guys to chip in with seven, eight, nine points a game.

“With one guy scoring 30 points, we’re not a very good basketball team because what happens is people start standing around and watch him do his thing. If everybody produces, I don’t see anybody beating us, but if somebody doesn’t show up to play, we’re going to struggle.”

Scoring has not been a problem for the Panthers in the regular season and Tomlin said he does not foresee that being a problem in the playoffs. He said the key to Bullard’s success and the outcome of its season will depend on the play of the defense.

“The most important thing is that we are patient and we execute,” Tomlin said. “We have been doing things kind of out of the ordinary because we could do that and still win games. In the playoffs, you can’t do that. One bad shooting night or two or three blows of the whistle the other way can cost you a game.

“It’s important to stay focused and play as a team. Offensively, everyone touching the ball is what we preached all year, but we haven’t done that the entire year, and playing defense. I think the most important thing is how we pick it up defensively. If we get to Austin, it will be because of our defense not our offense. I know we can score, we have guys that can score, but if we can’t stop people we won’t last very long.”

Tomlin said his players are anxious to begin their run at a state title and that they have high expectations.

“Our expectations obviously, are very high,” Tomlin said. “We’ve been waiting for this opportunity for the last three weeks, and our guys have actually been waiting for this moment since they started high school. They’ve been hoping to keep everybody together and see what happens.

“We are excited. We have one goal, and that goal is to get to Austin. I’m not going to say that it’s not going to be a successful season if we don’t do that, but I think there will be a little something left out if we don’t do that just because we feel that we have a good enough team to that.”

The Panthers scheduled a warm-up game against the Fairfield Eagles in Fairfield Friday, but they will not know who they will face in their first playoff game until after the bi-district games have been played. Bullard begins postseason play with an area-round game, which will be scheduled Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Game date, time and opponent is to be determined.

Recommended for you