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Bobcats contend with COVID-19 in basketball shift

By Ken McLemore/Hope Public Schools, 11/10/20 9:21 PM

HOPE – The shift in athletics seasons for the Hope High School Bobcats from football to basketball will be complicated this year by the carryover of COVID-19 protocols and concerns from the football field to Jones Field House.

HHS Basketball Head Coach Sam Bradford said the Cats will comply.

“Our number one priority will be player safety,” Bradford said. “We will comply with CDC guidelines, Arkansas Department of Education guidelines, Arkansas Activities Association guidelines, and district policy.”

Primarily those guidelines will require the following concerning Bobcat home games:

–Face masks that cover the mouth and nose will be required inside Jones Field House.

–Seating will be limited based upon 66 percent of capacity similar to football season.

–Limited ticket sales will be required on a first come basis for each game. Each participating Hope player, cheerleader and band member will be allowed to purchase two tickets. A total of 100 tickets will be available for sale to grades 7-9 Hope athletes.

–Only AAA passes will be recognized for free admission; otherwise, only participating athletes and staff will be admitted free.

–Concessions will be open and operated by the Hope Booster Club, and only sealed or packaged items will be sold.

–No visiting band or cheerleaders will attend.

–Students in sixth grade and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Bradford has a team this year he believes can get things done.

“This year’s Bobcat team will be one of the more experienced teams in recent years,” he said. “I feel good about this year’s team, if we can keep everyone healthy.”

The 5A South will be a challenge, Bradford admits.

“We have a very good conference, and non-conference schedule,” he said.

Ladycat Assistant Basketball Coach Kelly Muldrew takes over the season this year for Head Coach Susan Powers, sidelined from surgery.

Muldrew has a diverse squad of three seniors, three juniors and five sophomores.

“Our schedule will be in the same conference this year, with the addition of Fountain Lake,” she said.

Muldrew said she plans to have the Ladycats mix it up on both ends of the court.

“Our plan is to run a lot of motion offense, which allows us to get the ball movement to open up the court and get the ball up and down the floor pretty quickly,” she said. “Defense will be a mixture of man-to-man and zone defenses, depending upon the opposing team.”

Both varsity squads will take the floor Nov. 17 against New Boston in Jones Field House at 5 p.m. to open the season; then, Hope hosts Arkansas High boys and girls on Nov. 20, again at 5 p.m.

The remainder of the varsity Bobcat/Ladycat schedule is as follows:

Dec. 11 – Bauxite, Home, 6 p.m.

Dec. 18 – Arkadelphia, Away, 5 p.m.

Jan. 5 – DeQueen, Home, 5 p.m.

Jan. 8 – Malvern, Home, 5 p.m.

Jan. 12 – Mena, Away, 6 p.m.

Jan. 15 – Fountain Lake, Home, 6 p.m.

Jan. 19 – Nashville, Away, 5 p.m.

Jan. 22 – Bauxite, Away, 6 p.m.

Jan. 26 – DeQueen, Away, 5 p.m.

Jan. 29 – Arkadelpha, Home, 5 p.m.

Feb. 2 – Mena, Home, 6 p.m.

Feb. 5 – Malvern, Away, 5 p.m.

Feb. 9 – Nashville, Home, 5 p.m.

Feb. 12 – Fountain Lake, Away, 6 p.m.

Feb. 15-20 – District Tournament, TBA.

Feb. 22-27 – Regional Tournament, TBA.

March 1-6 – State Tournament, TBA.