Athlete of the Week: Tigers flying high behind Hennigan

conhoops-henniganThere’s a lot of noise coming from Conway High these days, and it’s not from The Backyard. Long regarded as a football school, it’s the basketball Tigers who are starting to turn heads with a 5-0 start, thanks in part to guard Jalen Hennigan.

Averaging 18 points per game so far this season, Hennigan has led the Tigers to a 5-0 start, including a series sweep of Myrtle Beach and an overtime victory at North Myrtle Beach. It’s one of the reasons he was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week.

“We wanted to get some payback because last year Myrtle Beach beat us twice and North Myrtle Beach beat us once,” said Hennigan. “I know the region is when it really counts as far as making the playoffs, but we wanted to let some teams know that just because you’re not in our region doesn’t mean you’re not in our target zone.”

Mission accomplished so far for the Tigers, but Hennigan has bigger goals in mind. Although the Tigers made the playoffs two years ago, it’s been a long time since Conway has captured a region title or more in boys basketball. Hennigan hopes to change that.

“I think the main difference this year is we are playing as a unit and not individuals,” Hennigan said. “We’ve got a team full of guys that don’t like to lose, and I’m one of them. It’s my senior year and my goal is to hang a banner in the gym.”

Hennigan has a lot of help in the scoring department this season, with teammate Christian Jeffords also filling it up this season. But loftier goals in mind, Hennigan has also had to turn his attention to his defensive game to help the Tigers’ chances.

“We’ve got some good bigs inside (including wide receiver turned forward Bryan Edwards) inside so me and Christian have to put up points outside,” he said. “And I’ve really had to lock up on defense. It doesn’t do any good for me to score 30 and give up 30.”

By helping his team reach its goal, Hennigan is also helping reach his individual goal of playing basketball at the next level. He has already visited Coker College and considers it an early favorite, but first he has some unfinished business in high school.

“Basketball has always been my love and I want to get the opportunity to play in college, but I also want to make the most out of my senior year,” he said. “It’s been a long time since Conway had some success in basketball and I want to help start the foundation.”

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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