Strafford avenges Senior Night loss to Conway

By Israel Potoczny The Daily Record

STRAFFORD  — The Conway Bears saw its season come to an end on Thursday in the semifinals of the Missouri Class 3 District 11 tournament as they fell to host Strafford, 75-65.

The loss comes just days after the Bears spoiled the top-seeded Indians’ senior night with a 71-69 win.

Strafford (21-6) advances to the championship where they will face Marion C. Early at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Conway ends its season 19-7, and says goodbye to a deep senior class that featured varsity mainstays Nathan Huckaby, Tyler Yelvington, Josh Howerton, Matthew McClanahan and reserves Tyler Forbes and Stephen House.

“Our seniors have been great the entire time they have been there,” Conway head coach Adam Thornhill said. “All those seniors helped transform a program that had a six-win three years ago to a 19-win season this year.”

On Thursday, the two teams were neck-and-neck as the Bears were within three points (19-16) midway through the second quarter.

But freshman guard Kyle Foley had a big stretch to help the Indians gain separation as he scored 13 of the Indians final 15 points in the first half, including back-to-back 3-pointers, the second of which with 1:10 remaining gave Strafford a 29-20 lead.

Conway finished the first half strong scoring the final four points of the second quarter. Sophomore Josh Cunningham scored on a baseline drive and a spin move to the basket and Howerton closed the frame with a basket.

Strafford built a nine-point lead at the end of the third, then scored first to open the final frame to take an 11-point lead early in the fourth. But after the Bears rallied from 11 down in the fourth quarter against Catholic for a thrilling 53-50 win on Tuesday, they couldn’t climb out of the hole on Thursday.

Conway got as close as 56-50 after a steal and a coast-to-coast lay-up by Yelvington with two minutes remaining, but the Indians responded with a parade to the free throw line.

Crucial turnovers hurt Conway on Thursday as they committed 18 in the contest, and several at key moments in the second half.

They were led by McClanahan’s 20 points, while Foley led the Indians with 19 points.

<p><strong>Conway senior Matthew McClanahan</strong> (22) chases down a loose ball during Thursday’s Missouri Class 3 District 11 semifinal game against Strafford. The Indians lost the contest.</p>

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