A ring for an injured colleague

HOT SPRINGS — As she carted off the 7A state tournament MVP hardware Thursday, Conway’s Jordan Danberry was elated.

But not just for herself and her team.

This one was for her buddy and colleague on last year’s team, Kianna Speight.

Speight, one of the top scorers on last year’s team, missed her junior season with a torn ACL.

“This was my motivation all season,” said Danberry, who scored 25 points in Conway’s 74-67 victory. “We had played together eight years. We wanted a ring for her.”

“Kee Kee (Speight) was the glue that held things together,” said Conway coach Ashley Nance. “She always played 110 percent and we missed that. We had to find a different identity.”

Danberry and sophomore guard Alexis Tolefree combined for 41 points.

Nance said a lot of the identity came farther down the stat line from Asia Willard, the team’s only senior, inside players Allie Pack and Christin Rogers and Hailey Estes coming off the bench.

“Asia did our grunt work,” Nance said. “We put her on the toughest offensive player.

“The others played their roles. Estes is the most fearless player coming off the bench I’ve ever seen. Our guards were good, but those players, particularly Asia, made a difference on the defensive end. They altered everyone’s game offensively.”

Tolefree, who complemented Danberry nicely, hit four 3-pointers in a row the first half in firing the Lady Cats to a 39-19 halftime lead.

“With ‘Lex’ you sometimes ride a roller-coaster,” Nance said. “but when she’s at the top of that roller-caster, she’s unbelievable.”

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