Pope, Bulldogs take charge

By Mark Oliver

After last year’s first-round exit from the playoffs, the St. Joseph Bulldogs are taking charge of their own destiny this season. Off to a red-hot 10-2 start, the Bulldogs are quickly making waves in the Class 5-2A conference.

“Our goals for this season are to get better every day and make the Regional tournament and more,” St. Joseph senior guard Luke Pope said. “My personal goals are to do what I can to help my team win as well as help my younger teammates get better. I’d like to bring excitement and school spirit to St. Joseph School.” 

St. Joseph High School’s Maggie Mooney is a member of this year’s 501 Basketball Team, sponsored by Conway Regional Health System, Velda Luders of Coldwell Banker RPM Group, Moix Equipment and Toy Company and First Security Bank. (Mike Kemp photo)

After starting the season with a five-game winning streak, the Bulldogs hit a roadblock with back-to-back losses to Mayflower and Lisa Academy North. Pope says those two losses were the most important games for St. Joseph this season.

“We took a couple of tough losses and we were able to learn from them and get better and it has helped us win some important games,” Pope said.

Pope was selected to this year’s 501 Basketball Team — 40 players representing the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the court. The team is sponsored by Conway Regional Health System, Velda Luders of Coldwell Banker RPM Group, Moix Equipment and Toy Company and First Security Bank. The senior was nominated by his head coach, Brent Bruich. 

“Luke is a very hard worker,” Bruich said. “He loves the game very much. He’s very intense and plays with a lot of heart. Great shooter, passer, rebounder, scorer.” 

A two-time All-Conference honoree, Pope carries both responsibility and leadership on his shoulders in his final season with St. Joseph. 

“Luke was our leading scorer last season and was a big contributor in other statistical categories,” Bruich said. “This season, I expect him to have a great senior year by leading us and stuffing the stat sheet in all categories every game.”

In his swan song with the Bulldogs, the senior cherishes each moment on the court this season.

“I have been playing basketball since I was around 6 years old,” Pope said. “My older brother and my dad played. My favorite memories would be all the times I went to get some work in with my dad at the gym. He’s my biggest fan and pushes the hardest to help me achieve my personal best.”

Outside of basketball, Pope is involved with Interact Club and National Honor Society at St. Joseph High School. The senior plays baseball for the Bulldogs and gives back to his community through St. Joseph Catholic Church in Conway. 

“Luke is a leader who motivates his teammates, cares about his classmates and leads by example,” Bruich said. “He volunteers and works service projects for the school, the parish of St. Joseph and the city of Conway.” 

“I like to play video games and spend time with my family,” Pope said. “I have lived here all my life. My favorite part is being close to all my friends and family. There is also so much to do in Conway.”

St. Joseph plays host to Conway Christian at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

Mark Oliver
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