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Bulldogs Split Conference Games Last Week
Junior guard Mason Cantrell (3) races down the court with a Little Rock Hall defender in this action from last Friday’s game at H.B. Stewart Arena. The inexperienced Bulldogs had their chances early, but eventually lost by double digits to the talented Warriors. (Photo courtesy of

Bulldogs Split Conference Games Last Week

 By Richard White

Head coach Brian Martin and his inexperienced Greenwood Bulldogs understand the difficult road ahead of them. With just one returning starter from last season, the GHS boys know they must gain experience and compete while playing in one of the toughest basketball leagues in the state, the 7A/6A Central. To that end, they managed to split a pair of conference games last week with Fort Smith Southside and Little Rock Hall.

Senior guard Evan Lensing is the team’s only consistent scoring threat and the only player with much starting experience prior to this season. Lensing had a great game at Southside last Tuesday night, especially in the first and fourth quarters, leading the Bulldogs to a 61-45 win. But against Hall last Friday the senior sharpshooter was limited to six points and fouled out in the third period of a 63-39 loss.

At Southside, Greenwood fell behind early, but rallied when Southside went cold from the floor in the second quarter. Still, the Bulldogs saw their 10-point halftime lead (33-23) trimmed to 40-38 heading into the final eight minutes. But Greenwood responded with 20 points in the final quarter, hitting 12-of-17 free throw attempts to seal the victory.

Lensing, who also scored 10 of Greenwood’s 13 first quarter points, hit 7-of-9 charity shots in the fourth period to finish with a team-high 21 points. Fellow seniors Jordan Hernandez and Michael Rhea added 14 and nine points, respectively.

“We attacked a whole lot in the second half,” said Martin. “We took it to the rim and took high-percentage shots. We kept our composure when they made their run, and we put the game away in the fourth quarter. It was a great win for us,” added Martin. “Our kids are showing a little more fight and confidence in themselves.”

The win was the third straight for the Bulldogs against the Rebels since the conference was formed last season. “Southside has turned into a good rivalry in all sports,” Martin said. “Our kids know their kids, so that motivation is already there. Our kids were ready to play.”

Back home for last Friday’s conference game against Little Rock Hall, the Bulldogs had their chances early, hanging with the talented Warriors for the first 10 minutes or so before succumbing to a 10-0 scoring run by Hall that ended the first half. Along the way Greenwood missed a pair of lay-ups and a couple of crucial free throws that might have kept them in the game longer.

Hall was cold early, scoring just one basket over the first 5:30 minutes of play, but then outscored Greenwood 10-2 over the final 2:30 of the opening quarter for a 12-8 Warriors’ lead. The Bulldogs’ Evan Lensing hit his first three-point shot for the first points of the game, but had another trey wiped out by a foul away from the ball. After that the senior wasn’t much of a factor in the game offensively.

Senior Ryan Davis opened the second stanza with a pair of baskets, the second one coming off an alley-oop toss from sophomore Grant Morgan to tie the score at 12-all. Lensing then nailed his second and final three-pointer of the game to tie the score at 15 with just under five minutes left in the period.

Hall then took advantage of some Greenwood miscues to reel off 10 unanswered points to finish the half leading 25-15. They expanded their margin to 53-27 after three periods and led by as many as 31 points (61-30) before backing off offensively and milking the clock in the fourth quarter.

“When we made a mistake, we turned it into two and then three,” said Coach Martin after the game. “We can’t do that, especially against a good team. When we took care of the ball, I felt good about our opportunity to score. And [then] we hit a lull there late in the second quarter where they go on a 10-0 run to finish the half. I really felt like we were just beating ourselves and shooting ourselves in the foot. It was just some silly mistakes that we haven’t been doing lately.”

Despite the lopsided loss to Hall, Martin remained optimistic about his team, despite receiving some bad news earlier in the day regarding senior forward Ryan Davis and his injured left wrist. “Besides that little stretch at the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third, I saw some really good things,” said the coach. “I saw us able to score. We were making the right passes. I thought we battled. But we just didn’t take advantage of some opportunities that were given to us. We’ve just got to focus.

“This has been a good week for us,” he continued. “We’ve gotten better this week. We’ve improved. We’ve just got to come together and not let this [loss] get our confidence down. Our goal is to just get better these next 11 games and have a good showing at state, no matter who the opponent is. That team we played tonight has the ability to make a deep run in the tournament, so we’re playing a couple of the best teams in 6A four times in our conference. Our conference is definitely going to get us ready for state.”

Asked about the performance of senior Ryan Davis, who scored 15 points in the game, Martin revealed that it might be the senior’s final game this season. “He [gave] some bad news to me just before the game,” said the coach. “His doctor told him this would be his last game of the [season]. He’s got two breaks in his wrist and he’s going to have to cast it up for six weeks.

“He’s a senior and I know he wants to continue to play. I can tell it pains him, but we just want to do what’s safest for him,” said Martin. “If he is done for the year, we’ll hate to lose him. He’s a senior and he starts and he’s a great kid and a great competitor, but the other kids will just have to step up.”

With or without Davis, the Bulldogs will continue to play through their tough league schedule this week with games against Fort Smith Northside and Little Rock Catholic, both on the road. Greenwood was slated to face the Northside Grizzlies this past Tuesday, before going to Little Rock for a 6 p.m. start on Friday.


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