After pulling out impressive wins in the big state of Texas to finish fifth place overall in the Annual Guaranty Bond Bank Holiday basketball tournament, the Hope Bobcats return home this week to open 5A South Conference play to begin the new year's hoop action.Competing against tough teams in Texas during tournament play over this past weekend gives the Cats good preparation to excel during conference play.
The Bobcats have been absent from the state tournament for the last past seasons, but look to return this year being more experienced.
Thus far, the Bobcats are 5-4 overall with key victories against Prescott, Ashdown in non-conference play and tournament wins over Texas teams Waskom, Hooks and Sulphur Springs.
The production during the tournament has polished the Cats performance on the hardwood since their previous games in the Gunslinger tourney prior to competing in Paris, Texas.
Head coach Samuel Bradford was pleased of his Cats play in Paris, TX and believes the Guaranty Bond holiday tourney helps prepare them to be competitive against strong quality teams in the 5A South Conference.
“We played some pretty good competition and that's good for us. This tournament gave us a chance to get games in and a better understanding of what we need to do. We played four games to step up our play going into conference. It kept us together three straight days and a good trip for our kids. We've developed depth and played some guys that helped off the bench. Our defense is getting better. We're figuring out things what we can and can't do. We start conference this Friday and we've got to be sharp, because everybody in our conference is good,” said Bradford.
Seniors' Vincent Love, Torre Greene and Cornelius Lindsey have provided the leadership roles thus far for the Bobcats play. Vincent Love leads the Cats in scoring, which he averaged 24 plus points for the first three games of the season.
Love posted 24 points in the season debut (Prescott 11-13-12), 27 pts. for his season-high against Ashdown (11-16-12) and 25 points facing Arkansas High (11-30-12). Since these games, he's posted 12 points in both games in the Gunslingers tourney.
In Paris, Texas Love had two 20 plus point games of 22 pts. (North Lamar, Texas 12-28-12) and 25 pts. (Sulphur Springs 12-29-12).
Love's play has been impressive in leading the Cats during their victories for the first part of hoop season scoring in double-figures in all nine of Hope games.
Greene will be very key for the Cats with his pure outside shooting and defense, which has been solid thus far. Juniors' K.J. Thompson and Jonathan Palmer have been key for the Cats with big games in the Texas tourney. Thompson scored a season-high 25 points in Hope's victory over Waskom, Texas.
Page 2 of 2 - Thompson and Palmer both had 17 points each in the Cats tourney finale game against Sulphur Springs.
Thus far, Thompson and Palmer both have posted several double-figure scoring games as one of the three top scorers for the Bobcats thus far.
Now as the second half of the 2012-13 season begins this Friday January 4 with the Cats hosting the White Hall Bulldogs opening 5A South Conference play, they'll need good production on both ends of the court to be successful.
Bobcats' Steven Caple, Brandon Byrd, Keaton Beasley and Tarmarqus Love have provided good play for Hope this season. Big man Darious Nelson came out strong for the Cats in a key win during the Paris, Texas tourney which will be needed for the Bobcats to prevail during conference play.
The Bobcats look to keep their momentum steady during the conference season as the team's chemistry will be important to stay sharp as a unit for victory.
Tip-off for Friday's 5A South Conference opener is set at 6 p.m. with senior high girls play of the Ladycats facing the White Hall Lady Bulldogs.
Then, the nightcap game features a senior high boys showcase battle of the Bobcats taking on the White Hall Bulldogs at Jones Field House Gymnasium.