The hometown Hope Bobcats wrapped up their season of competition on the hardwood in the 5A South Conference Tournament last week hosted in Hot Springs.

The hometown Hope Bobcats wrapped up their season of competition on the hardwood in the 5A South Conference Tournament last week hosted in Hot Springs.

Despite falling short to return to the Class 5A state tournament this season, the Bobcats presented a strong sense of productive representation throughout the entire year. With a new group of players from losing a senior strong group last year, this year's Bobcats were able to pull out some key wins and finished league season with a impressive victory in their final home game on senior night at Jones Field House Gymnasium.

Coming into the season as the defending 5A South Conference Champs, the Bobcats received everyone's best with difficulty to win as a newly group of players. But, through it all, the Cats competed hard and continued to bring the fight each time stepping onto the hardwood for battle.

Veteran head coach Sam Bradford with assistant coach Jonathan Turner kept a positive and motivating mentality for the Bobcats this season. Although the Bobcats suffered some tough losses on the road and at home, the Cats competed hard in defeat to tougher classifications in Class 6A and during their run in tournament competition in New Boston and Paris, Texas.

Bradford was very pleased by the teams' play despite their losses, but really was proud how they kept themselves highly-spirited to achieve wins during league and tournament competitions for the regular season. 

"I was really proud how our kids competed fairly every ball game that gave us an opportunity to win. I can't say enough how well they competed this season. They set good examples towards wins and losses by showing true character," Bradford said.

"The seniors handled adversity good, which was such a positive for our team. We won some games that was difficult for us. The kids worked so hard and represented us well," Bradford said.

The future looks to be bright for the Bobcat basketball program with some strong additions and talent coming up up that really made an impact on the season towards the end. The Cats competed well in a tough blended 5A/6A Conference that was difficult to play against teams such as Hot Springs, El Dorado, Arkansas High-Texarkana, Lake Hamilton. 

"Our kids brought it and gave ourselves a chance to win. From a physical standpoint, we were smaller, but gave ourselves a chance and that was a big positive. We played a tough schedule and did ok. I look forward to getting started and preparing for next year," Bradford said.

The Bobcats will step down into the Class 4A for next season and will be challenging, but Bradford believes the Cats can be successful and looks forward to competing in a new structure and environment

in a different classification. The Bobcats will be in a conference with Malvern, Arkadelphia, Mena, Bauxite, Nashville and De Queen for the 4A/5A league. The district tournament will be hosted at Malvern next season 2018-19, then at Mena the following year for 2019-20. 

On of the key positives for the Cats this season was the community support. Bradford was pleased by the support for the Bobcats home and on the road despite coming off a successful season with a district tournament championship the previous season. He felt the team competed hard and well and represented Hope High School well.

"I really think our kids did a great job representing Hope High School this year. I'm proud of them as any group I've coached and did what we could with what we had. I thought our support from our basketball community was good as any. From the parents and school support, I heard a lot of encouragement regardless the outcome and that was something very pleasurable," Bradford said.