Brown, Panthers set sights on another state title

by Mark Oliver

As a sophomore, Cabot’s Jalen Brown tasted high school basketball greatness with the school’s first state championship win. Two years later, the experienced senior looks to bring the crown back home to Lonoke County.

“My favorite basketball memory was winning Cabot’s first-ever state championship my sophomore year,” Brown said. “Being able to experience that moment alongside my dad [Cabot assistant coach Nathan Brown] was amazing. We’ve grown as a team since then, and we’re ready to do it again.”

Brown was selected to this year’s 501 Basketball Team — 37 players representing the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the court. The team is sponsored by Conway Ortho and Sports Medicine, Conway Regional Health System and First Security Bank. The senior was nominated by his head coach, Jerry Bridges.


“Jalen is an outstanding shooter with great moral character,” Bridges wrote in his nomination. “He treats all his teammates as he would want to be treated and is very well-liked by all.”

The Panthers (18-9, 6-7 Class 7A Central) secured an impressive 11th-consecutive trip to the Class 7A state tournament with a 45-44 upset win over Northside this week. The team aims to improve its tournament seeding with a win over North Little Rock in the 7A Central finale.

“This is a very important game for us,” Brown said. “North Little Rock has some big players and a lot of talent. I think that we were intimidated the first time we played against them, but now that we have some experience against them, we’re ready to go out there with confidence and give it our best.”

According to Brown, Cabot’s success this season stems from great leadership. 

“As the year has gone on, I’ve gotten better at being the consistent leader for our team,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of responsibility that goes into the role, but the most important qualities are bringing your best work to practice, staying out of trouble in school and keeping your grades up. We’ve all done an excellent job this season.”

Once the state tournament begins, Brown says that the sky’s the limit for Cabot.

“Each game, no matter who our opponent is, we just have to go out there and play as a team for 32 minutes,” Brown said. “If we play like we are capable of playing, we’ll be able to surprise some people. I’d love to see us go out on top this year.”

Win or lose, Brown has no regrets from his final season with the Panthers.

“This year has gone by so fast,” Brown said. “Being able to play with a bunch of guys who bring it all every night has been fun. We’ve had strong wins, and we’ve had heartbreaking losses, but I’m proud of our season this year. No matter what happens in the tournament, I’m going to give it everything I have and make as many memories as I can.” 

Off the court, Brown devotes his free time to making memories with his family.

“We have a family farm in Searcy, where we like to go ride horses together,” Brown said. “We’re always doing fun things together, and that’s something I never take for granted.”

After high school, Brown will serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints before pursuing a degree in the medical field. 

“I’ve always known that when I was old enough, I’d leave home to serve an area in need,” Brown said. “To put your life on hold to serve others is a great thing. This is my calling.”

With the final games of his high school career on the horizon, Brown reflects on those who helped him become the young man and athlete he is today. 

“When I think about how people will describe me, I hope they see me as grateful for their influence in my life,” Brown said. “I am thankful for my coaches who taught me to work, and I’m grateful for my parents, my family and my friends for their support. Last, but not least, I am grateful to my Savior for always being by my side to show me the path of least resistance.” 

Cabot plays at North Little Rock at 7 p.m. Friday.