Conway boys’ basketball team putting together solid season

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The Conway High School boys’ basketball team are having a successful season so far this winter under head coach Jeff Coper. The Bears earned the No. 1 seed in the Spokane tournament that will be played on January 15.

By: 
ALEX BOYER ALEX@LEBANONDAILYRECORD.COM

The Conway High School boys’ basketball team has flown under the radar so far this season in southwest Missouri as the Bears have put together a solid start in the first half of the year.

Conway (8-2) has embarked on a season with fresh memories of their successes and shortcomings from last year, where they lost a heart-breaker game against Mountain Grove in district semifinal play.

“I think we surprised everybody but the guys wearing Conway Bears uniforms that night,”Conway head basketball coach Jeff Cope said. “I think most people really expected Mountain Grove to roll over us, and the kids decided the story was going to be told a different way,” he said.

Down by one point, Conway had a great look at an eight-footer, a shot taken by last year’s senior and best player Tayler Simpson, which came up short.

In his fifth year as the Bears’ head coach, Cope has his team playing at a high-level at the moment. Recently, the Bears won their fifth straight game knocking off the Ava Bears on Tuesday night.

The only two losses the Bears have suffered this season are to the Strafford Indians and Mountain Grove Panthers. The Panthers are currently the No. 1 ranked team in Missouri Class 3.
Besides those two games, Cope said the Bears have otherwise risen to the occasion against good teams and has surprised even themselves at times this season.

CHS currently holds wins overs Fair Grove, Gainesville, Fordland and Forsyth which all having winning records this season.

“We’ve just found a way to make things work, get some points on the board and get some stops,” Cope said. “The nice thing about this group is everybody has a job to do, and nobody tries to do anything more than what they are capable of.”

Recently, the Bears were awarded the No. 1 seed in the Spokane Tournament that will take place on January 15 at Spokane High School. Conway will face the No. 8 seed Galena Bears at 6 p.m. and should they win, will face the winner between Reeds Spring and Spokane.

Throughout the first half of the season, Conway has been led by senior big man Tanner Pippins. The 6’5” post presence is currently averaging 17.3 points and eight rebounds per game this year.

“He has emerged as an offensive weapon for us this year, and he has done a great job for us,” Cope said. “He virtually never comes off the floor.”

Senior guards Cody Delcour and Gunnar Berger have done a great job in the Bears’ backcourt, and Cope had high praise for two guys who had extensive varsity experience under their belts.

“Gunnar has really stepped into the role of being a more reliable scorer where he shows up in a box score all four quarters … he has really worked hard and been disciplined and put points on the board consistently,” Cope said.

Delcour has made a name for himself as one of the better shooters in the Summit Conference.

Cope says Caleb Little and Colby Vavruska have done an excellent job of doing their jobs on the court for the Bears this season.

“They’re not flashy, but they have handled the ball extremely well, and besides the first game against Crane, turnovers have been the same they have been the past five years, in the 11-13 range, which is acceptable,” Cope said. “They handle the ball, and they get it to the people that can do something with it.

“When their time is there to hit a shot, they have each hit a big shot for us.”

Another key member for CHS this year has been the presence of Hunter Wissbaum who is averaging four points and five rebounds per game and has done a nice job on the defensive side for Cope.

“We’re not a flashy team, but they do a great job of playing with each other and for each other,” Cope said. “It is fun to watch.”

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