After returning from tournament competition in Paris, Texas over the Christmas holiday break, the hometown Hope Bobcats welcomed Hot Springs Lakeside Rams to Jones Field House Gymnasium for new year hoops at home last Friday night to begin the second half of the 2017-18 season schedule.

After returning from tournament competition in Paris, Texas over the Christmas holiday break, the hometown Hope Bobcats welcomed Hot Springs Lakeside Rams to Jones Field House Gymnasium for new year hoops at home last Friday night to begin the second half of the 2017-18 season schedule.

The Cats sparked early with the Rams staying close for an back and forth contest down to the wire. In the end, the Rams would prevail over the Bobcats 37-36 in their first of two game conference series meeting.

The difference was made up at the charity stripe as the Cats went perfect 100 percent from the line hitting 3-for-3 free throws, but the Rams shot 9-for-19 at the foul line for 47 percent with Hope only making three trips to the line the entire game. Several questionable calls occurred that may have been the difference in the game, but the Rams would escape with victory.

In opening period play, the Cats built early momentum to lead 6-0 down to the 4:05 mark with Jay Conway, Jaloni Davis and Zakee Lawson scoring a basket apiece from the field. The Rams got on the board making their first trip to the foul line knocking down 2-for-2 free throws to trail 6-2 at the 3:50 mark. Nate Carter put the Cats up 8-2 with a bucket, but the Rams answered back with a trey from behind the arc to cut Hope's lead to 8-5.

Antwone Casteel scored Hope's final bucket of the first quarter just under the three minute mark, but the Rams finished the period by scoring the back to back baskets. At the end of the first quarter, Hope led Lakeside 10-9.

In the second period, the Cats dropped eight points on the scoreboard, but the Rams posted an 13 point scoring quarter with draining a trey (3-pointer) at the buzzer to end first half action. At the break, Hope trailed Lakeside 22-18.

In the second half, the Cats rallied back in the third period to take a slim 30-37 lead going into the fourth and final quarter. In the fourth, Lakeside outscored the Cats 10-6 with Conway, Davis and Lawson all contributing a bucket apiece for Hope. The Rams' lead was cut to one point from Lawson's basket with 6.7 seconds remaining in the game. Lakeside was fouled at .9 seconds going to the free-throw, but missed both attempts with Hope unable to score in the closing second for the win.

For the game, Bobcats' Conway led scoring with 10 points for double-figures. Lawson and Carter each scored eight points apiece, Davis added six points and Casteel added four points.

The Bobcats shot 52 percent from the field, 1-for-5 from 3-point line, scored 26 points in the paint, 10 points off turnovers and second chance points, totaled for 25 rebounds off the glass, seven deflections, four steals, three blocks and committed 16 fouls to Lakeside's 10 for the game.

The Cats will have a busy week of hoops facing Magnolia on tonight and on the road at El Dorado this coming Friday night for the blended 5A-6A Conference play.