The Conway Big Three may be down to just two for Friday night’s Class 7A state championship game against Fayetteville.
Or, maybe not.
Starting senior point guard Kenyon McNeaill has been cleared to practice and see what he can manage after suffering an injury in last Saturday night’s semifinal game against Little Rock Central, according to Wampus Cat coach James Bates. The Conway coach said a doctor’s report said the injury was a severe sprain, and McNeaill has been fitted in a splint for protection.
"He’s going to try to do what he can do," Bates said. "We’re going to try to see what all is legal with a splint. The manufacturing specs are all legal."
McNeaill injured his wrist after going up for a layup midway through the first quarter of the Cats’ 44-43 overtime win over the Tigers. Bates said the two-time all-stater was about to land face first but used his hand to try to break the fall.
McNeaill was fouled on the play but couldn’t get much of a shot off on the first free-throw attempt. Glen Norris came on for second foul shot, which was good.
But with or without McNeaill, Conway is back in the title game for the second time in three years. The Cats fell 46-44 to Little Rock Catholic in the 2008 finals. As big of a loss as it would be to not have McNeaill, Bates knows it’s not a completely foreign situation of playing without his standout ballhandler.
"It’s just one of those things that’s going to take time," Bates said. "Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of that. But we practice with Kenyon and we practice without him all the time. So, it’s not like we’ve never done that before."
Bates said McNeaill is listed as day-to-day, and that "we’ll just have to see how he responds. Hopefully, he’ll be better by Friday."
Micah Delph and Teshawn Sims will shoulder most of the point guard duties. But the Cats will still heavily rely on senior Preston Purifoy, whose 22 points helped the Cats win their semifinal game.
Depth isn’t something Bates has been too worried about in the past. While that’s taken a hit, there is still some strength there.
"You can’t replace a guy like that, but everybody else can step up," Bates said.
If McNeaill isn’t able to play, Norris is an option as a possible starter. However, Bates said he may turn to one of the sophomore duo of Xavier Clardy and Everett Reed for added size since the Bulldogs have quite a bit themselves.
Friday’s game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. at Hot Springs’ Summit Arena.