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Bulldogs Still Searching for Offensive Spark
Drake Lee (21) looks to score or pass against the Airedales last week. Also pictured is teammate Dustin Lunsford. (Photo by Richard White courtesy of the Greenwood Dog Pound)

Bulldogs Still Searching for Offensive Spark

By Richard White

It’s been a difficult season so far for the Greenwood Bulldogs and Head Coach Brian Martin. The GHS boys have a 4-12 record and have lost six games in a row, including five straight at the beginning of their 7A/6A Central schedule. But more critically, they have lost all three of their 6A games that will determine if they qualify for post-season play. They have three more such games remaining.

The problem has been the offense – the Bulldogs don’t really have one or two players they can count on to score in double digits every game. During their recent six game slide they have averaged just over 45 points per game, and that’s not enough offense to win consistently, even on the high school level.

The biggest point total in their last six games has been 57 at Siloam Springs, and that game included an overtime period. The Bulldogs need to find some offense quickly if they hope to reach the state tournament in March. On the plus side, two of their three remaining 6A games are at home against Siloam Springs and Russellville. They must also play at Alma.

At Russellville

Last Friday the Bulldogs traveled down I-40 to take on the Russellville Cyclones, who had only one win in conference play. But once again the lack of offense haunted Greenwood as the home team built a large second half lead and invoked the mercy rule en route to a 69-41 victory.

The Bulldogs won the opening tip and scored the first points, but then Russellville quickly built a lead that the visitors would never overcome. After Greenwood’s opening jumper, the Cyclones scored 10 unanswered points to take charge of the contest early. They led 18-5 after one period.

Russellville opened the second quarter with a basket to lead 20-5 before the Bulldogs scored again on a three-pointer by Dylan Hughes. But the Cyclones answered with a 12-0 run to go up 32-8. Greenwood ended the first half with a 7-0 run to make it 32-15 at the break.

Russellville poured it on after halftime. The Bulldogs scored the first bucket, but the Cyclones went on another scoring spree, this time for eight unanswered points. Greenwood scored on two straight possessions before Russellville’s offense picked back up where it left off. The home team led 54-25 at the end of the third quarter. A Cyclones’ steal and lay-up in the opening moments of the fourth quarter was enough to invoke the mercy rule, shortening the game.

Scoring for the Bulldogs was anemic, with no player reaching double figures. With junior starting forward Dustin Lunsford in foul trouble, several players came off the bench, including sophomore Devin Gilbert who led the team with seven points. Another sophomore, Dylan Hughes, added a pair of three-pointers and had six points. Senior Hunter Thompson also came off the bench and contributed six points.

Alma at Greenwood

After losing a heartbreaker in overtime at Siloam Springs a week earlier, the Bulldogs needed to get back on track against 6A competition when they hosted the Alma Airedales on January 20th. But the Airedales came into the contest with only two losses on the season, and used a big run in the first quarter to erase an early deficit and build a 15-12 lead after one period.

Trailing 3-0, Greenwood scored nine consecutive points in the opening quarter for a 9-3 lead, until the visitors ripped off 12 unanswered points to turn the tables. The Bulldogs did score the final three points of the period, but that was as close as Greenwood would get. The Airedales opened the second quarter with an 11-0 run and never looked back en route to their 70-50 win.

The Bulldogs had just one field goal during an 11-minute stretch spanning two quarters, and trailed 37-18 before Greenwood junior Grant Morgan ended the first half with a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer. His heave from just across the mid-court line made the score 37-21 at the intermission.

The ‘Dogs kept their fans in the game by making a mini-run in the third-quarter with the help of two three-pointers by senior Drake Lee, closing the gap to just 10 points at 48-38. But Hunter Johnston’s bucket with 1:36 left in the quarter ended the Greenwood surge. Alma scored the final four points in the quarter to lead 52-38, then outscored the Bulldogs 18-12 over the final eight minutes.

“Alma played well. They shot the ball real well,” said Coach Martin. “We had a good first quarter, right we we needed to be, but the big second quarter by Alma turned out to be too big of a lead to overcome. In the third quarter we picked up our scoring, but we couldn’t get [Alma’s lead] into single digits. We had a hard time stopping them. But I’m proud of our guys for continuing to fight. We’ve just got to string more positive possessions together and not shot ourselves in the foot.”

Junior guard Ryan Padilla led the Greenwood offense with 15 points. Drake Lee added 13 points, including a trio of three-point baskets in the second half. He was followed by Dustin Lunsford with seven points, while Dylan Hughes and Grant Morgan had five points each.

Conway at Greenwood

Lack of scoring punch by the home team was again the issue when Conway visited H.B. Stewart Arena on January 16th. The Wampus Cats arrived in Greenwood with a 10-4 overall record, and promptly limited the Bulldogs to just seven points in the first quarter and only 11 points in the entire first half. Conway led 18-7 after one period and 34-11 at the break.

The Bulldogs finally found some offense in the second half, actually outscoring Conway in both quarters. But the visitor’s lead was just too big to overcome. Greenwood trailed 48-27 after three stanzas and lost by 17 points, 64-47, despite scoring 36 points over the final 16 minutes of play.

“We just couldn’t buy a bucket,” said Coach Martin after the game. “We couldn’t finish at the rim and we missed some open looks and it just got away from us.

The Bulldogs were led by Dustin Lunsford with 10 points, the only GHS player to reach double figures offensively. Grant Morgan and Devin Gilbert both had eight points, while Drake Lee chipped in with six points. Dylan Hughes, sophomore Luke Hales, and junior exchange student Jeff Dementjeff each had three points.

 

At Siloam Springs

The Bulldogs missed a golden opportunity to steal a victory on the road when they visited 6A rival Siloam Springs on January 13th. A hard-fought game throughout, the Bulldogs had a strong fourth quarter to force the game into overtime. But the Panthers outscored Greenwood 8-5 in extra period to earn a critical 6A win in the 7A/6A-Central. Siloam Springs will host the 6A state tournament in March, and the overtime victory gives them the early edge over Greenwood in qualifying for the post-season.

Greenwood led 11-8 after eight minutes, but trailed 20-16 at the half. The home team added to its lead in the third period, outscoring the Bulldogs 21-17 for a 41-33 lead. But the visitors won the fourth quarter by a margin of 19-11 to tie the score at 52-all and force the extra period.

In overtime, the Panthers used a pair of free throws to take a 59-57 lead with 6.9 seconds remaining, but Greenwood’s Grant Morgan was fouled with 4.3 seconds left. He went to the line with a chance to tie the score, but missed the first free throw.

To give the Bulldogs a chance, he intentionally missed the second free throw, but Siloam Springs grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 3.0 seconds left. The Panthers then hit one of two shots for a three-point lead, but Morgan’s prayer for a half-court buzzer-beater was not answered.

“It was a close game throughout,” said Coach Martin, “and we battled and found a way to put that thing into overtime. Just a shot here or there was going to make the difference, and they made the last play. But we learned from it and hopefully we can get them when they come here.”

Morgan led Greenwood with 12 points, while Drake Lee added 10 points. Ryan Padilla had nine points, Luke Hales and Dustin Lunsford contributed eight points each, and Matt Ludwig had seven points. The ‘Dogs hit 10 of 28 shots from behind the three-point line, accounting for over half of their points.

 

Upcoming

The Bulldogs will finish out the first half of their conference slate this week with games scheduled for Van Buren this past Tuesday night and Friday night at home against Little Rock Catholic, both Class 7A schools. Tuesday’s results were not available at press time, but Van Buren is generally considered to be the best team in the 7A/6A Central. Tip-off for Friday’s game at H.B. Stewart Arena will be around 7:30 p.m. shortly after the conclusion of the varsity girls’ contest.

 

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