Conway High benefitted from one sophomore Thursday night and another bit the Wampus Cat at the 7A state basketball tournament.
Sophomore guard Alexis Tolefree scored 28 points in leading the Lady Cats (28-5) to a 75-56 victory over Rogers in the first round at Buzz Bolding Arena. Sophomore Hailey Estes added 11 points on four-of-seven shooting.
Later, Fayetteville sophomore Payton Willlis took over a tight game in overtime, leading the Bulldogs to a 54-49 victory in the extra period.
"If Alexis doesn’t do what she did tonight, we don’t win," said CHS coach Ashley Nance, whose team will play Springdale in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Saturday. "The thing that separates her, she can drive but also she can hit the outside shot."
The Lady Cats trailed 16-9 at the half.
"We’re young and our players have never been to a state tournament before, so I felt we would come out a little nervous," Nance said. "The officiating was different than it had been in our conference. Not bad. Just different and we had to adjust to that. We did some things at first we normally don’t do. Once, we discovered we could get fouled taking it to the basket, we were fine.
At one point in the second half, Tolefree scored inside, broke from a fast-break layup, then hit a 3-pointer for seven straight points.
"Both Alexis and Hailey hit some huge momentum shots for us," Nance said. "The thing about those two sophomores is they play with confidence you don’t normally see in sophomores. They play big."
Asia Willard added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Conway.
In the back-and-forth boys game, Willis scored six straight points in overtime as Fayetteville broke from a 38-38 tie to a 54-49 victory.
"It was a game of runs and they got the last one," said Conway coach James Bates.
The Cats had a chance to win at the end of regulation but A.J. Burton’s 3-point attempt with two seconds left bounced off the side of the rim.
"We really wanted to take it more to the rack, but that’s the shot he’s been hitting and felt comfortable with. We weren’t as consistent scoring as you should be this time of year. Fayetteville played good defense, but things that had been going in didn’t go in."
The Wampus Cats shot 30 percent (15 of 50) from the field.
Javonte Ellis led CHS with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Burton, three of 13 from the field, had 10 points and five rebounds and Damarian Johnson added 10 points and four rebounds.
ST JOSEPH BOYS
In the Class 2A tournament at Hampton, Drake Cooper had 25 points and 10 rebounds as St. Joseph’s boys (27-6) defeated Hughes, 50-46.
Dylan Schrekenhofer added 11 points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs. Taylor Schrekenhofer had eight points, six assists and two steals. Nash Nichols had four points and two steals. William Fields added four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
"I’m so proud of how the boys played tonight and for them advancing and living to play another day," said St. Joseph coach Brent Bruich. "We did a great job of controlling the tempo and not turning the ball over and we did a great job of rebounding and containing drives, especially in the second half after some adjustments. It over gets tougher, so we have to raise our level of play even more."
The Bulldogs play either Junction City or East Poinsett County at 8:30 p.m. Monday.