Bristol keeps on winning

It’s hard being undefeated. It’s even harder when you are the only undefeated team left in the county and you have a target on your back as big as an elephant.

Bristol Panthers – welcome to the land of the elephants.

With their thrilling victory on Friday over Pymatuning Valley, and accompanied by a LaBrae loss to Poland on Tuesday, the Panthers are the last team left in Trumbull County that can list a “0” at the end of their record.

The excitement that is being generated from the town of Bristol is without a doubt the most the town has seen since now-coach Craig Giesy was wearing the black and gold from 2000-03.

During Friday’s game against the Lakers, Giesy said he didn’t remember an atmosphere like that since he played. And now, being on the bench as a coach, he said it’s a completely different feeling.

“The coaches were talking about that, and we don’t remember anything like that since we played – and that’s been a long time. It was sold out, it was standing-room only. I think there might have been like two tickets left.

“We joke that we want to play and we want to get out on the floor. But last night was the first night we said, ‘We don’t need to play anymore.’ That was a big game. But we love and trust our players and are so happy for them.”

The 11-0 start the Panthers are off to ranks with the best starts in school history but is still a few shy of reaching best start of all time. In 1994-95, the team had 17 straight wins, and in 1961-62, the team started 18-0 before first tasting defeat.

Even in Giesy’s junior season (2001-02), the Panthers lost their second game of the season before rattling off 23 straight wins and an appearance in the state finals.

There’s no predicting the future to see how the season will go from here for the Panthers, who are currently ranked 10th in the state in Division IV. However, it’s not an easy road to the 22-0 mark before the start of tournaments.

The biggest game that sticks out in the schedule is game No. 20 at Maplewood. There is a rivalry there, and the coaches know each other well. If Bristol is still undefeated on Feb. 8, the Rockets will throw everything at them to be the team to break up the run. Knowing the Panthers, they will leave everything on the floor to make sure they depart Mecca with an unscathed mark.

When speaking about being undefeated, Giesy shied away from the word. And rightfully so. No coach wants to jinx or start putting unwanted pressure on his team. He also knows that with teams gunning for them, the rest of the season is going to be no cake walk.

“We still have some tough games. That game against PV, those are how tournament games are played. It was good to see how the kids reacted. We were pretty satisfied with the result.”

If the Panthers keep doing what they are doing, Giesy and the town of Bristol will continue to be very happy with the results.