Ashby a ‘steadying presence’ for Conway Wampus Cats

by Levi Gilbert 

With a win Tuesday over Catholic, the Conway Wampus Cats have locked up a berth into the 7A state playoffs. With one game remaining, the goal is pretty simple for Scott Ashby and the Wampus Cats. Win at Bryant on Friday, and the No. 3 seed is Conway’s. 

“Our focus is to have a good week of practice and to finish conference play with a win,” Ashby said. “We have so much talent on this year’s team, and we need to focus on locking in and coming together to play our best basketball entering the state tournament.”

Ashby, a senior point guard for the Wampus Cats, is a member to this year’s 501 Basketball Team — 37 players representing the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the court. The team is sponsored by Conway Ortho and Sports Medicine, Conway Regional Health System and First Security Bank. The senior was nominated by his head coach, Brian “Salty” Longing.


“Scott is a heady point guard,” Longing said. “He’s an outstanding ball handler and an excellent leader on the floor. He’s extremely unselfish and the type of player that puts the team first. He has a strong work ethic.

“Playing Scott is like having a coach on the floor. He only plays one position, but he knows all five. He shows up 30 minutes early every day to get up additional shots. Ultimately, all he cares about is winning. He will take whatever role he is given and maximize his effectiveness in that role. He’s the type of leader you want in your practices and in games.”

Last season as a junior, Ashby started several games, and if he wasn’t starting, he was the first point guard subbing in off the bench. 

“I think he is definitely a steadying presence on the court at guard,” said Jeff Matthews, play-by-play announcer for Conway Corporation’s Channel 5 Sports. “He makes good decisions on the court, both offensively and defensively and has the feel of being a coach on the court. 

“Watch a Wampus Cat game and just keep your eyes on Scott while he is setting up teammates. He is a superb passer. Chest passes hit shooters where they can get a shot up quickly. Bounce passes hit, cutting teammates in perfect stride. Lob passes into the post are on target.”

This season, Ashby worked his way into a starting role during conference play.

“It means everything,” Ashby said. “I’ve put in so much work this year and my whole life to get to this moment. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to start, and I’m going to do everything I can with it.”

Ashby has come up through the ranks of Conway basketball. Throughout his high school journey, Longing has been there for every step as an assistant coach. That all changed this year when Longing took over the head spot. 

“It’s been great playing for Coach Longing,” Ashby said. “He’s a great coach, but an even better guy. He’s a coach that really cares for his players and will do anything for them. I couldn’t ask for a better coach.”

And Longing hasn’t been the only mentor along Ashby’s journey. 

“Ryan Webb, the FCA representative at Conway High School, has played a huge role in my life over the last year,” Ashby said. “He has helped me grow in my relationship with God and focus on living my life for Him off and on the court. Ryan is a great role model and is always there to give me advice. 

“My assistant coach, Coach Harrell, has played a huge role in my success on the court. He has always pushed me to work and get better every day in practice. I’ve never had a coach that has believed in me more than him.”

In addition to basketball, Ashby has also played soccer for the Wampus Cats since the ninth grade. At Conway High, he participates in FCA and National Honor Society. In the community, he’s involved at K-Life and First United Methodist Church. After graduation this May, Ashby plans to attend the University of Arkansas this fall.

“Several generations of my family attended the U of A, and my older sister is currently a sophomore there,” Ashby said. “My grandfather played football and coached for the Razorbacks. I can’t imagine attending college anywhere else.”

Although he’ll soon be attending school in the 479, Ashby won’t soon forget his 501 roots. 

“It’s home,” he said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and am so thankful for my family and lifelong friends who’ve always supported me in everything I do. Conway schools have provided so many opportunities, both academically and athletically. I couldn’t ask for a better school or hometown.”

Conway closes out the regular season at Bryant at 7 p.m. Friday for a battle for the No. 3 seed out of the 7A Central.