The Conway basketball teams are appearing to peak at the right time, and their coaches want to make some noise in the upcoming state tournament.
The Wampus Cats haven’t lost a game in 2010, building an overall record of 22-2 and 12-0 in the 7A-Central Conference. Conway’s only in-state loss came early in the season to Watson Chapel. The Lady Cats are clawing for a No. 2 seed, along with Bryant. The Lady Hornets have to lose twice this week and Conway has to win both games for that second seed. Right now, the Lady Cats are pretty much a lock for at least a third seed.
"We’re not content on where we are right now. We’re trying to better our seed," Conway girls coach Janet Taylor said. "Right now, we’ve turned into newspaper watchers. We’re trying to see who is beating who. We’re trying to move up and see what spot, but we’re not trying to focus on that too much. We still have two very important conference games left to go."
The Conway teams travel to Russellville today before the season finale at Wampus Cat Arena on Friday night against Mount St. Mary and Little Rock Catholic. Conway’s last games are on a night that has been marked "Buzz Night." This is the last home basketball game that athletic director Buzz Bolding will be in his position. He’s stepping down at the end of this school year. Friday night is also considered senior night.
The Wampus Cats had to overcome a double-digit deficit in the first half against Van Buren last Friday night. Conway guards Kenyon McNeaill and Micah Delph led the way with 23 and 22 points, respectively. Both players were red hot from the field.
"We just played like a team and all the shots that I got came from my teammates," Delph said. "I give thanks to all teammates. I thought that we came out weak against Van Buren but we were able to get it. We’re getting closer to the tournament, so we have to make sure that we play like that the whole time."
Bates was happy to see his experienced players take a leading role during their last conference game. The Pointers gave Conway all that it wanted in a game earlier this season in their gym. This year’s state tournament site will also be in Van Buren.
"He looked like Micah Delph (Friday) night," Bates said. "He has struggled scoring lately, but his shots were falling. He got some good looks off the dribble when Kenyon was out and he received some. He was knocking them down, and boy it was really nice to see that stroke."
McNeaill is one of four seniors on the team and he wants to play his last game in Hot Springs in the Class 7A state championship game.
"Van Buren gave us a good run in the second half and pretty much did what they wanted," McNeaill said. "I felt like I had to step up in the second half and get us to start focusing on defense. So we came out hard. Playing in that type of atmosphere really bought back memories of us playing here at the state tournament in my sophomore year. We still have some work to do, so we’re gonna concentrate on Russellville for (today)."