The hometown Hope Bobcats have made their arrival back home from an intense three day of tournament competition in the big state of Texas to compete in the 2017 Gunslinger tourney hosted in New Boston, Texas Dec. 7-9.

The hometown Hope Bobcats have made their arrival back home from an intense three day of tournament competition in the big state of Texas to compete in the 2017 Gunslinger tourney hosted in New Boston, Texas Dec. 7-9.

The Bobcats opened tourney play with an impressive win against Liberty-Eylau JV 52-34 to post three consecutive wins, but the Cats fell to Paris, Texas 38-27 in the second round and Liberty-Eylau 67-45 on the final day of tournament competition.

Hope Bobcat veteran head coach Sam Bradford has seen growth and maturity thus far into the Cats play to begin the 2017-18 basketball season. For several decades, the Bobcats have competed in the Gunslinger tournament and Bradford has always believed it's a helpful tourney to prepare the Cats for league season play going into the second half of their basketball game schedule each year.

The Cats posted a big first round win, but the scoring aspect from the last two games in the tourney concerns Bradford, but knows the team is progressing and looks to finish strong heading into conference tournament play in February 2018.

"We're maturing, just not as a basketball team right now. But every game we play, there has been growth. We're struggling to score on the offensive end right now, but scored better on Saturday against a good Liberty-Eylau team. Our competition has been stiff up to this point, but we need to continue to grow," Bradford said.

"We've won three games so far and been at this point last year and won 21 games. We're just going to take it one game at a time. We got about 26 players and they're new and we're still in the evaluating process, but our kids have shown up and done what we've asked then to do and do what we need them to do," Bradford said.

The Bobcats have several new faces and pieces this season but are making the transition to build their team chemistry since starting the year of hoops. The Cats will get everyone's best since they're the defending 5A South Conference Tournament champions and have another tough road ahead of them as they continue through the 5A-6A blended conference schedule.

This Friday night, the Cats have a big showdown hosting Class 6A Arkansas High Razorbacks led by veteran head coach Sam Weaver, whose well known all over the Natural State with a collegiate coaching background. This will be the first of a two game season series meeting in league play as Hope and Arkansas High split wins last season. Friday's game will be intense with the Cats and the Hogs matched up for the featured nightcap at Jones Field House Gymnasium.



Game 1


The Bobcats produced an successful opening quarter performance to outscore Liberty-Eylau 10-2 to end first period play. In the second, LE outscored the Cats 9-7, but at halftime the Bobcats had a 17-11 advantage over Liberty-Eylau. In the second half, the Bobcats drooped 16 points in the third and 19 in the fourth quarter to total 35 points and held LE to 23 points for the final two periods of action. For the game, Bobcats' Jay Conway led scoring with a season-high 20 points and snatched 14 rebounds for a double-double. Keith Brown posted with 15 points in double-figures, had six rebounds, dished three assists and had two steals. Christian Moore added 13 points for double-digits. Nate Carter had three rebounds, one steal and two assists. Zakee Lawson scored three points with two rebounds and one steal. Keyontai Harris had three blocks with a steal, Antwone Casteel and Jaloni Davis each had a steal apiece. TEAM TOTALS: The Bobcats shot 38 percent from the field 17-for-48, 64 percent from free-throws 16-of-25 shots, 39 rebounds, eight assists, seven steals, five blocks.


Game 2


The Cats sparked for a early first half advantage over Paris, Texas despite trailing at the end of first quarter play 13-8. In the second, the Cats outscored Paris 14-8. At halftime, the Cats led Paris 22-21. In the second half, Paris outscored Hope 17-5 for both third and fourth quarter scoring with the Cats falling in a 11 point defeat, to end their three-game winning-steak. For the game, Bobcats' Lawson led scoring with 13 points for double-figures, Brown followed with eight points and Davis added six points.


Game 3


In the finale game of tourney play, the Bobcats went up against a polished Liberty-Eylau varsity squad but the Cats would fall 67-45. The Cats trailed at the break 35-22 to LE going into the locker room. In the second half, the Cats dropped 22 points on the scoreboard, but LE poured 32 points for combine third and fourth quarters to hand Hope an 18 point defeat and end tourney play 1-2. For the game, Castell led scoring with 15 points and Davis had 13 points with a steal and two assist for double-figures. Moore had five points, David Horton scored four points with two steals, Carter added two points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out two assists and had one steal. Lawson chipped in two points, had one key block and a steal. TEAM TOTALS: The Bobcat shot 42 percent from the field 13-for-32, 69 percent from the free-throw line shooting 18-for-26, had 22 points scored in the paint, six points in transition, 31 rebounds, five assist, six steals and one block.