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Bulldogs need scoring help says Coach Martin
Senior guard Evan Lensing (24) is Greenwood’s most experienced player and its best shooter and scorer. The Bulldogs are rebuilding this season and need more players to shoulder the scoring load, according to head coach Brian Martin. The team recently competed in tournament play at Siloam Springs, winning one of its three games. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

Bulldogs need scoring help says Coach Martin

After losing the majority of his starting five to graduation, along with most of his team size and scoring punch, GHS boys basketball coach Brian Martin has his work cut out for him. The rebuilding Bulldogs are 3-7 on the season after dropping two of three games last weekend in tournament play in Siloam Springs. They will open 7A/6A Central conference play this Friday night at home against Little Rock Parkview. Tip-off for the girls contest will be at 6 p.m. with the boys game to follow.

At Siloam Springs, Greenwood fell to Prairie Grove 43-38 last Thursday. The game was close throughout, with neither team able to pull away. The Bulldogs were led in scoring by senior Evan Lensing with 13 points, while Ryan Davis added six points. On Friday Greenwood defeated Tahlequah, Oklahoma by a score of 60-47. A big first half and a strong finish were the keys to the GHS victory.

The Bulldogs scored 35 first half points, then added 18 in the fourth quarter, overcoming an anemic third quarter that produced only seven points. Lensing had the hot hand again for the ‘Dogs, scoring 34 points, while sophomore Grant Morgan added eight points.

On Saturday Greenwood suffered through a horrific first quarter offensively, trailing 9-0 after being shutout over the first eight minutes of play. They rallied to score 19 points in the second period and trailed 30-19 at the half, before losing 62-48. Lensing led the team once again with 21 points, while fellow senior Logan Hollinsaid added six points.

Coach Martin, struggling with a back ailment over the holiday break, admits that his team struggles to score points as well. Aside from Evan Lensing, the Bulldogs haven’t yet found a consistent shot maker this season. “He’s been carrying us from a scoring standpoint. But we’re going to need some other guys to step up and take some of that weight off his shoulders. So far it’s been a weakness of ours, putting the ball in the hole. Scoring will be a challenge for us.”

Lensing is also the only returning Bulldog with much game experience. “He’s the only [player] that’s really had any significant minutes,” said the coach. “We’re definitely inexperienced. And with the exception of Jordan Hernandez (6’8”) and Ryan Davis (6-5”), we’re a pretty small team,” he added.

Senior Ryan Davis (12) recently returned from an injury and will add some much needed depth and size to the Bulldogs’ reconstituted lineup, after most of last year’s starters graduated. The 6’5” Davis is one of the tallest players on the team. The ‘Dogs are 3-7 so far this season. Conference play begins this Friday at home against Little Rock Parkview. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

Senior Ryan Davis (12) recently returned from an injury and will add some much needed depth and size to the Bulldogs’ reconstituted lineup, after most of last year’s starters graduated. The 6’5” Davis is one of the tallest players on the team. The ‘Dogs are 3-7 so far this season. Conference play begins this Friday at home against Little Rock Parkview. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

While Martin likes the athleticism of his squad, especially since the arrival of several football players, he also understands the strength of the 7A/6A Central. “We’re very athletic,” he said. “We compare with Fort Smith Southside and Little Rock Catholic from an athletic standpoint,” but then added that the other league teams (Conway, Russellville, FS Northside, LR Parkview, and LR Hall) “have a leg up on us athletically.” Some of Martin’s best athletes have only been playing basketball for a few weeks since football ended. “We’ve got a lot of guys who haven’t been in the gym,” said Martin.

Still, that fact means there is room for improvement, and that’s what the coach is banking on as the conference season unfolds. “We’ve got a lot of hustle and heart in those guys. We just hope to get better game-by-game and get some experience under our belts and try to [improve] as the year goes on. One of our challenges is going to be playing through adversity,” he said.

“Obviously we’re in an extremely talented basketball conference, and we’re going to have to face some adversity and get through it. Our goal is to get better in the first half of the conference season for the second half. We did that last year. We want to play our best basketball, whatever that is, in late February.” Once again, all 16 Class 6A teams in the state will qualify for the postseason tournament.

Asked if he has been forced to adapt his basketball philosophy and style to fit this current crop of players, the coach said, “We’ve definitely had to make some philosophy changes. Every year you have to make some tweaks based on personnel. This year we are playing a lot more zone [defense], trying to shorten the game up. Offensively, we’d like to move the ball a little more and make several passes until we can get a high quality shot. We want to be a little more patient and shorten the game and make teams play longer defensive possessions.”

To be competitive, Martin said this year’s Bulldogs need to keep their game scores in the 40s and 50s. “I think we’re averaging 60 possessions a game right now, which is a lot fewer than in the past, and we’d like to get that a little lower if possible to give this team a better chance for success.”

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