United front: Gruver’s veteran leadership fuels run to state tournament
Gruver is led by a talented senior class of Bo Butler, from left, Carter Armes, Jalin Conyers, Matthew Felderhoff and Hunter Haynes. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
Anyone that watches the Gruver Greyhounds play basketball immediately turn their eyes to the electric Jalin Conyers.
The 6-foot-5, do-it-all University of Oklahoma football commit is a human highlight reel on the court, and a big reason why Gruver is playing in their second straight UIL Class 2A state tournament when they take on Shelbyville in a semifinal at 10 a.m. Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
But Conyers — who is making his third appearance in San Antonio after helping lead West Texas High to a Class 2A state title in 2018 — knows he didn’t get the Greyhounds to state on his own.
This Gruver team (30-5 overall) is a savvy veteran group surrounded by a talented senior class.
Sure, Conyers steals the show, but guard Carter Armes can shoot and dish the rock, Bo Butler is deadly from outside, and Hunter Haynes as well as Matthew Felderhoff supply superior defense.
“We’re a team,” said Conyers, who is 18-1 in his last 19 postseason games. “These guys mean everything. This is my third time to state, and this is a testament to what kind of teammates I’ve had each year. Carter, Hunter and Matthew were a big part of what we did last year. Bo played in a regional tournament for Spearman last year. We have nine seniors on this team. To me, we’re one unit combined.”
Haynes agreed with Conyers comment.
“Jalin deserves all the praise he gets,” said Haynes, who averages 8.3 points and three rebounds per game. “Carter and I have been on varsity since we were sophomores. This year we felt being all seniors, and having the success we’ve had that we could help carry the load. I think we’ve done a great job of that.”
Haynes is a great defender, and can score when called upon. For Armes, he came into his own during last years playoffs, and hasn’t slowed down since, averaging 13.1 ppg and four assists per contest.
“I’ve been able to gain a lot of confidence through the year,” Armes said. “We all just want to do whatever it takes to win a state championship,” Armes said. “We all know our role, and what we need to do on the floor.”
Being a veteran squad, one thing first-year coach Brittin East has been impressed with the most in his team is their discipline. There isn’t a moment where his Greyhounds lose their composure or get rattled. They always play on an even keel.
“Our main focus has been staying consistent,” East said. “These guys did a great job on focusing on getting better every single day. They’ve gained a lot of trust with each other, and they are always calm. They know how to handle any situation, it does’t matter if it’s Jalin, Carter or Hunter. They gel well together.”
If Gruver beats Shelbyville, which is a rematch of last year’s state title game, the Greyhounds will play the Martin’s Mill-San Saba winner in the state championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
UIL Class 2A state tournament
Friday’s state semifinals
Martin’s Mill (39-0) vs. San Saba (21-8), 8:30 a.m.
Shelbyville (36-3) vs. Gruver (30-5), 10 a.m.
Saturday’s state championship