Defending 5A South Conference Champions Hope Bobcats would suffer an season ending loss in the opening round of the 2018 5A South Conference Tournament Monday night to rivals' Magnolia Panthers 47-29 hosted at Hot Springs High School Gymnasium.

Defending 5A South Conference Champions Hope Bobcats would suffer an season ending loss in the opening round of the 2018 5A South Conference Tournament Monday night to rivals' Magnolia Panthers 47-29 hosted at Hot Springs High School Gymnasium. This would present a rematch from last years semifinals at the district tournament between Hope and Magnolia, but the Panthers seek redemption in Spa City as the Cats hard fought reign as the champs came to an end for 2018.

The Bobcat kept it close early in first period play only having a five-point deficit to Magnolia 14-9 to end opening quarter action. Bobcats' Christian Moore, Zakee Lawson and Cory Lewis all posted first period scoring for Hope. In the second quarter, the Bobcats were held to only four points scored with Jaloni Davis connecting on a pair of free-throws and Lawson with a bucket from the field made to beat the buzzer. The Panthers opening the second quarter scoring 15 consecutive points down to the 2:44 mark that helped them take an 32-13 lead at the break to total for 18 points scored in the second period. 

In the third, the Cats posted in double-digits with 10 points, but Magnolia scored 11 points and at the end of three periods, the Panthers had a 43-23 lead going into the fourth and final quarter of the game.

In the fourth, the Cats sparked for six points scored with Keith Brown scoring two consecutive baskets and Lawson posting the final bucket of the game under 20 seconds to play. The Panthers finished the game with four points scored in the fourth to defeat Hope for the third time this season and advancing to the semifinals.

For the game, Hope shot 34 percent from the field, made 2-for-12 behind the arc 3-pointers for 17 percent and 5-for-10 free-throws for 50 percent. Hope scored five points in transition, six points off turnovers, two second chance points and 10 points in the paint. Hope snatched 21 rebounds, had five assists, six deflections, five steals and two blocks.

Bobcats' Brown led scoring with 11 points for double-figures, with four rebounds, three assists, four deflections and one steal. Moore scored seven points with three rebounds and one steal. Lawson added six points with five rebounds, one deflection and two steals. Davis scored two points with four rebounds, one deflection and Travion Rhodes scored two points with two rebounds. Nate Carter had two assists and Zykeis Raglon with a steal. 

The semifinals of the conference tournament continues Thursday night with the finals on Friday night in Hot Springs.