The year in basketball anticipates some intense and excitement for 2016-17 and all teams are looking to make noise on the hardwood.

The year in basketball anticipates some intense and excitement for 2016-17 and all teams are looking to make noise on the hardwood.

Once again it's time for hoop season to tip-off in Hempstead County. Local schools such as Blevins, Garrett Memorial Christian School, Spring Hill and the hometown school Hope have begun their season to some early success on the hardwood for this year in basketball.

All schools have produce success in previous seasons and they're returning to achieve more for 2016-17 year in hoops.

A lot of history has been achieved in all programs with new additions along veteran guidance return to keep the flow of accomplishment high heading into this season.

The hometown Hope Bobcats and Ladycats both had productive season last year and return several key players with new talented underclassman to guide them through the 5A Classification. State tournament play seeks to be another quest for the Bobcats and Ladycats as they'll challenge their opponents to qualify for postseason competition.

The Spring Hill Bears and Lady Bears will strive to complete this year with success in their programs this season. The Lady Bears program has qualified to be state tournament competitors for several consecutive season. They have a strong force of championship background with a little experience returning to their team for this season. Blevins Hornets and Lady Hornets have already made early statements in key wins this season. They're both young but soaring to strong contenders in 2A Classification for history to make it back to the state tournament in March 2017.

Garrett Memorial Christian School Saints and Lady Saints teams continue to keep their performance on the hardwood impressive in the AACS. The Saints and Lady Saints basketball squads are progressing well to remain as strong contenders and earn impressive win thus far into the season.

 

HEMPSTEAD COUNTY BASKETBALL TEAM PREVIEWS FOR 2016-17

HOPE BOBCATS

The Bobcats have taken advantage through their offseason to be well prepared for this year as they've officially shined on the court for action for an impressive season-opening victory . Winning in convincingly fashion, the hometown Hope Bobcats took care of business on the hardwood Tuesday night to knock off the talented reigning 5A South Conference champs of Spa City Hot Springs Trojans 68-57 in the season-opener at Jones Fieldhouse Gymnasium. Led by a impressive shooting display from Bobcats' T.D. Walton draining four trifecta's behind the arc in third quarter action finished the night with 20 points, helped seal a win for Hope over Hot Springs. Bobcats' senior big man Desmond McDonald went beast mode inside the paint to spark Hope with 15 points and showing his outside shooting touch to knock one three-pointer. Seniors' Clyde Rick posted 11 points with one trey from behind the arc and Markel Haynie hit 10 points to round out Hope's four man double-digit scorers. Hope basketball head coach Sam Bradford was pleased how his Bobcats found a way to win by their hard play against a talented Hot Springs squad. There are still some things to work on for improvement, but Bradford believes his team can be successful for a challenging season of hoops.

"I thought we played ok in the first half. We played hard and shot the ball better than I thought we would. We have to improve our defense, but Hot Springs was a big test for us early and gave us opportunity to see where we are," said Bradford. "We've got to build a deeper bench for the style we want to play," said Bradford. Despite the early exit from the state tournament last season, the Bobcats finished one of their most successful seasons on the hardwood. The Cats earned some hardware this season finishing fifth place in the Gunslinger tournament in New Boston, Texas and third place in the Paris, Texas tourney back in December 2015. Hope exceeded their conference record the last two years at 9-5 this season and producing another winning year at 17-10 overall under coaches Sam Bradford and assistant coach Jonathan Turner. They'll look to contend back to state to compete in a district tournament which will be hosted at Watson Chapel. Their schedule of competing against 6A schools such as El Dorado, Lake Hamilton and Arkansas High will prepare them for the challenge to come out victorious during the district tournament, in hopes to return to the state platform in March 2017.

 

 

HOPE LADYCATS

The Ladycats have the depth with several returning starters and some talented sophomores and juniors to make a run at qualifying to play in the Class 5A state girls basketball tournament. Veteran head coach Susan Powers is very confident about her Ladycat squad this season. With the return of third year assistant coach Kelly Muldrew to help lead the team through a challenging season, Powers looks to keep her team focused and competitive against about the up coming year of senior high girls basketball. The hometown Hope Ladycats hosted the Hot Springs Lady Trojans Tuesday night for the season-home opener at Jones Fieldhouse Gymnasium. Despite a tough loss for Hope, Ladycats' sophomore Raley Potter and senior Tazharia Woodberry led scoring with eight points apiece, Andria Curtis followed with five points, Zahria Woods added four points and Morris finished with three points. This year's featured seniors' Ameiah Trotter, Quiana Gulley, Tatyanna Smith and Woodberry bring some experience and chemistry to the team as they'll be the key leaders for the Ladycats through their tough schedule to contend to make the state tournament.

 

BLEVINS HORNETS

Already off to a hot, blazing and stinging start on the hardwood for 2016-17, the Blevins Hornets are more than determined to make this basketball season a successful year. Veteran 30 year plus head coach Scott Kelton returns to guide a very talented, young group of guys to anticipate a productive season. Thus far, the Hornets are making noise on the hardwood for early season success. The Hornets are 7-2 overall and unbeaten at home heading into the Thanksgiving break. Kelton is pleased by the way his Hornets are stepping up and making improvements in their play to produce victories against worthy and challenging opponents. This season the Hornets will feature seniors' Hunter Choate, Terin Martin and Glen Tate to provide the leadership roles. With a superb underclassmen of sophomores and juniors, the Hornets are building an excitement of team chemistry. Big man Zane Kirkham has displayed two 30 plus scoring performances with Bailey Lee, Monterian Todd, Ernan Gomez, Corta Young and the addition of Deandre Burton amongst several key players to provide major production for the Hornets. Last season, the Hornets produced another historic year of success on the hardwood for 2015-16. Blevins completed their basketball season with a winning season at 35-7 overall; captured the 7-2A West Conference, District and 2A South Regional Tournament titles; and finished out the year advancing to the quarterfinal round of the Class 2A State Tournament Elite Eight. Kelton believes this year's group will make similar or more success as being a fun bunch that's working hard to gain the necessary skills to be winners.

 

BLEVINS LADY HORNETS

Blevins Lady Hornets bring a lot of excitement to the hardwood with a talented and young group of sophomores to make some noise for the 2016-17 basketball year. Off to one of their most impressive starts 6-1 overall, the Lady Hornets are bringing back some productive success in their girls basketball program under the veteran and leadership of third year head coach Mark Hall. Led by talented players of Jasmine Batson posting in 30 and 20 plus point scoring games thus far and Amani Furlow, Diana Samuel and Madison all have broke into the double-digit performances this season. Seniors' Kaylee Kelton, Emily Graham and Michelle Walters all have played the big role of leadership for the Lady Hornets. Coach Mark Hall (son of Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Legendary Coach Melba Hall), continues to bring the great coaching expertise to the Lady Hornets program. Mark's success results of five conference titles, one regional title, state quarterfinals and semifinals appearances. He's had several players participate in the AHSCA All-Star games and developed long winning-streaks during seasons as the commander-in-chief from the sidelines. The Lady Hornets advanced to the state tournament semifinals during the last season of head coach Shalon Crow to mark one of their best seasons. The Lady Hornets are off to a similar start to Crow's talent group with Hall looking to grasp some history and a return back to the state tournament for this season.

SPRING HILL LADY BEARS

This year, the Spring Hill Lady Bears return with experience and newcomers of talent to help their young group make some successful noise on the hardwood. For a championship built of success in their program under head coaches Laura Kidd and current head coach Roy Whatley anticipate the Lady Bears season to continue their streaks of achievement in senior high girls basketball. Last season, the The Lady Bears posted another winning season under veteran head coach Roy Whatley for 2015-16. The Lady Bears finished third place in the OBU Tip-off Classic back in November 2015, won the Bradley Sr. High tournament, clinch their sixth 7-2A West Conference (13-1 record) and district tourney titles and winning the programs' second 2A South Regional tournament. The Lady Bears went unbeaten at home and wrapped up the year for a 26-5 overall record falling in the first round of the state tournament. This season, the Lady Bears are 1-3 overall, but slowly grasping into learning each other as a young talented team. Seniors' include Cait Light and the return of Southwest Arkansas All-Area team standout Lilly Kidd to lead the Lady Bears playing leadership roles. (Lilly) Kidd was apart of helping the first ever state championship Lady Bears team during the last part of the 2013-14 season as a freshman. She had success her sophomores and junior seasons at Nashville and return back her senior season to play for the Lady Bears. Underclassman Katie Rivera has shown her spark thus far leading the scoring category with addition of Christy Randle to help the inside play around the paint and free-throw line area. Graycee Barham, Maegan Ward, Maleigh Moore, Jessi Park and Abbi Fisher will fulfill big roles this season.

 

SPRING HILL BEARS

The Bears have opened the season with an exciting victory over Genoa Central to begin the year of basketball 1-0. Led by productive scoring displays in double-figures from Cameron Middleton posting 15 points, Hays Martin with 13 points and Ross Townsend contributing nine strong points gave the Bears an impressive first game season-opener victory to tip-off their year into the win column. Head coach Roy Whatley feels if the Bears keep playing with intensity they provided against Genoa, they can be successful as a contender. Leading the way for their roles of guidance features seniors' Josh Winfield, Will Walton, Daden Reed, Tanner Baumeister and Richard Liu. Despite have Payton Massanelli out and recovering over an season-ending injury during football season, Whatley hopes he'll be able to return to play some time if not this year. Whatley looks for the Bears to build their chemistry to be a very good team that can play together. Entering into a new conference of teams will be challenging for Whatley and the Bears this year. With early productive practices thus far after the conclusion of football, the Bears are gearing into their conditioning to ready to run and compete with teams to qualify for regional and hopefully the state tournament. Last season the Bears finished 7-2A West Conference seventh with wins over Gurdon and sweeping series against Murfreeboro. They advanced to the second round of the district tournament, but losing to Foreman to fall short of qualifying for regional. They look to rebound this season for success.

 

GMCS SAINTS

Garrett Memorial Christian School Saints return for senior high boys action this 2016-17 season. With several talented underclassman to make up for this season will keep the Saints rolling in the AACS. They sparked big for a impressive season-home opening victory over New Life 51-48. Led by Saints' Colton Phillips with 14 points, Jordan Keener with 10 points, John Carlin eight points and Cole Storey adding six points to provide them with balance scoring to victory. Since losing their head coach Matt Nicholson, who guided the GMCS basketball into high climax of success, return back to his home state in Illinois to coach. Now, the return of Jimmy Walker to head over the basketball program believes his teams are competing well. The Saints have been busy on the hardwood thus far into the year of 2016-17. Key road battles against Columbia Christian, Premier and competing in preseason tournament action has prepared the Saints to be ready to compete for upcoming brawls to be polished to challenge in the district and state tournaments. Other Saints' Ty Watkins, Zane Walker, Andrew Miller and Cole Clements has stepped up to provide production and spark the team for contributions.

 

 

 

 

GMCS LADY SAINTS

Already tipping off the 2016-17 basketball season victorious, Garrett Memorial Christian School Lady Saints have built excitement for this year. With a unbeaten season thus far, the Lady Saints have displayed a path of being victorious on the hardwood for some early year success. They captured a fourth consecutive AACS preseason tournament title to collect victories over CMA, Columbia Christian, West Side during tourney play. The Lady Saints topped ACA and a impressive season-home opener against New Life earlier this week to show their dominance on the hardwood. Head coach Jimmy Walker has been proud of their play and performance during games. Seniors' Morgan Peek, Jordan Stocklager and Jacklyn Wingfield lead the Lady Saints for the leadership roles for season 2016-17. Last season, the Lady Saints competed in state tournament competition in a dominating fashion outlasting Cornerstone Christian 64-20 in the quarterfinals, but came up short to West Side in the semifinals 47-42 to end their title run at state. The Lady Saints had a impressive year on the hardwood with several key victories throughout the season. They began the season unbeaten through most of the first half part of the year and finished strong in tournaments. Several players including junior varsity team members competed well in individual state competition contests with varsity Lady Saints earning All-State, All-District honors for postseason accolades for 2015-16 under coach Nicholson.

This season continues to keep rolling in the same direction as Walker and Lady Saints look to go all the way to capture the AACS state title to build more championship hardware for their sports program at GMCS.