Micah Delph and the rest of the Conway High seniors closed their careers on Buzz Bolding Arena on Tuesday night pretty much like they spent most of their games here.
Delph, who started as a sophomore, completed his career 32-4 on the Cats’ homecourt after the 69-53 victory over Russellville.
The Conway seniors, who kept themselves in line for a No. 1 seed for the state playoffs from 7A Central, posted a 70-12 mark over three seasons.
"Quite an achievement," said CHS coach James Bates, whose team moved to 19-6, 10-3. "The seniors finished things right. Micah started every game and has been our leader and that was the way to close it out."
"It hasn’t hit me yet," said Delph, who scored 18 points in his final game on the Cats’ home court. "It really not something I can think about. I’ll probably start understanding it more when I come to practice tomorrow and go into the locker room and realize I won’t be putting on that home jersey in that locker room again."
The Cats used a balanced attack to dominate Russellville (9-16, 2-11) except for a lapse in the third quarter. Colt Fason had 15 points, Everett Reed 14, Tim Boyd 11 and TeShawn Sims seven.
"We’re at our best when we’re balanced," Bates said. "When we got our defense going we gave our offense enough opportunities to get things going."
"We have a senior-laden team, and we’re unselfish about sharing the ball," Delph said. "We really don’t care who takes the lead."
The Cats jumped to a 21-9 lead after a quarter and had one mild score when the Cyclones got some turnovers, hit some inside shots and mounted a 9-0 run at the end of the third quarter to draw within 49-41.
It got Conway’s attention. Boyd hit a 3-pointer to begin the fourth quarter and Reed followed with back-to-back inside baskets and two free throws on the way to 11-0 run to put the game away. Conway led by 19 at its greatest juncture.
"We didn’t recognize their tempo," Bates said. "We’ve had some lapses like that this year. It’s something we can’t do at state."
The Lady Cyclones (20-5, 8-4) took command of the boards and the game in the second half in surging to a 54-42 victory over the Lady Cats (19-6, 7-6), their second straight victory over Conway this season.
Russellville, coached by former Greenbrier and Arkansas State star Steve Wiedower, put itself in line for a No. 2 seed when in drops to 6A for the state tournament. The Lady Cats will likely be a No. 4 seed in the 7A tournament, which will put them on the bracket opposite North Little Rock.
The Lady Cats led 16-7 after a quarter, then the Lady Cyclones found openings and hit shots against Conway’s zone defense to force a back-and-forth game for the next two quarters. A three-point play by Alexus Clardy pulled Conway within 34-32 in the final minute of the third quarter, then a rebound basket followed by a catch-and-release buzzer basket put Russellville up 38-32. The Lady Cyclones found the seams in the zone, hit the shots and outhustled the Lady Cats for almost every key rebound in outscoring Conway 12-3 in the early part of the fourth quarter to pull away.
"They killed us on the boards," Conway coach Ashley Nance said, "and our kids got frustrated. We didn’t adjust very well to how the officials called the game and that’s part of it."
"I thought the key to the game was our rebounding," said Wiedower, who has led a turnaround in his second season as Russellville coach. "We kept getting second and third shots and it was big. Even if we didn’t score, the clock still ran."
Taylor Gault, who played her final game on her homecourt, led Conway with 23 points, but the scoring fell off after that. Enjonae Chambers followed with seven points.
Kaylee Wiedower, Steve’s daughter, led Russellville with 23 points. Jimmie Long had nine and Susan Taylor seven.
Conway teams close the regular season Friday at Little Rock Catholic and Mount St. Mary.