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GHS Basketball Teams Endure Tough Conference Stretch

By Richard White

While the second half of the 7A/6A Central conference schedule seemed to favor Greenwood’s two varsity basketball teams, Old Man Winter had other plans. With four of their seven remaining games scheduled at home, the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs hoped to close out the league schedule on a positive note heading into the post-season. But the weather conspired against them, forcing each squad to play three games in five days, resulting in five losses and just one victory.

Snow forced the cancellation of Greenwood’s scheduled games at Little Rock Parkview on February 7th. So Greenwood opened the second half of its league schedule on February 11th at home against Fort Smith Southside, losing both games. They then traveled to Little Rock Hall last Friday and against lost both games, then played at Little Rock Parkview on Saturday, with the GHS girls salvaging a victory and avoiding a three-game conference losing streak for the highly-ranked Lady Bulldogs.

 

GHS vs. Southside

Greenwood’s Brittany Branum (13) eyes the basketball just before tip-off against Fort Smith Southside in action last week at H.B. Stewart Arena. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

Greenwood’s Brittany Branum (13) eyes the basketball just before tip-off against Fort Smith Southside in action last week at H.B. Stewart Arena. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

The Lady Rebels of Fort Smith Southside overcame a 10-point deficit for a 67-64 7A/6A-Central win last Tuesday (Feb. 11th) in the first action for both teams since January 31st. In a very competitive and entertaining game, the lead changed 13 times in the first 10 ½ minutes.

But Haleigh Henson’s go-ahead free throws with 2:49 left in the first half sparked an 11-0 run for the Lady Bulldogs that included a rare five-point play. Sydney Henson nailed a three-pointer and was fouled after the shot. She made both free throws and Greenwood’s lead blossomed to 38-30 at halftime.

GHS girls head coach Clay Reeves makes a point to junior Sarah Elkins (center) and her teammates during a timeout against Fort Smith Southside. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

GHS girls head coach Clay Reeves makes a point to junior Sarah Elkins (center) and her teammates during a timeout against Fort Smith Southside. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

The Lady Rebels closed to within seven points (51-44) at the end of three quarters, but Greenwood (16-5, 6-3) still led by eight after a Megan Hartness basket with 5:52 left to play.

Unfortunately for GHS fans, Southside then went on a 9-0 run to claim a 58-57 lead. Haleigh Henson’s three-pointer put Greenwood ahead 60-58 with 3:16 remaining, but Southside quickly answered to tie the score at 60, and that’s when things got crazy, with the lead changing hands three times in the final 1:25 of play. But in the end it was Southside that came out on top, 67-64, with the Lady Bulldogs missing some critical scoring opportunities late.

Greenwood Lady Bulldogs

Junior Megan Hartness handles the basketball against the Lady Rebels last week. Southside upset the highly ranked Lady Bulldogs on their home court. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

Senior guard Lundon Williams scored 17 points to lead the GHS girls, while senior Haleigh Henson added 14 points. Sydnie Henson and Megan Hartness, both juniors, had seven points each in the conference loss.

As for the Bulldogs, they played hard as they always do, but once again lacked the weapons and experience needed to pull out the victory, losing to the Rebels, 52-44. Both Greenwood and Southside have struggled this season, each winning four games overall and just once in conference play against one another. The Rebels rallied from six points down early and posted their first league win in two years.

Brian Martin

Bulldogs’ head coach Brian Martin talks things over with his team during a timeout. The struggling Bulldogs had a tough stretch of league games last week, losing at home to Fort Smith Southside and to both Little Rock Hall and Parkview on the road. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

Greenwood led 13-8 after eight minutes, hitting a trio of three-point shots, but Southside rallied to tie the score at 24 at the intermission. The long-distance shots stopped falling for the Bulldogs in the second half, allowing the Rebels to lead 34-28 after three quarters.

Greenwood senior Jordan Hernandez (32) reaches high to control the opening tip against the Southside Rebels last week at Greenwood’s H.B. Stewart Arena. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

Greenwood senior Jordan Hernandez (32) reaches high to control the opening tip against the Southside Rebels last week at Greenwood’s H.B. Stewart Arena. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

The home team managed to trim the deficit to just two points at 42-40 with about two minutes to play, but a Rebels’ three-pointer kept the Bulldogs from getting any closer. Greenwood did not score a field goal in the final two minutes, getting their only points at the free throw line.

Senior Evan Lensing led the team in scoring with 10 points, while junior Mason Cantrell had seven points and junior Kevin Jones added six points. The home conference losses were tough to swallow for both Greenwood head coaches.

“They best team definitely won tonight,” said Lady Bulldogs’ head coach Clay Reeves. “They fought a lot harder than we did and had a lot more effort than we did. They hit the shots when they needed to, and came up with the loose balls and rebounds when they needed to. We just didn’t attack hard enough, didn’t rebound well enough, and didn’t play defense well enough. I’ll take the responsibility for that. If we don’t do it well enough, that’s my fault. But we’ll get better.”

As for GHS boys coach Brian Martin, he said, “We didn’t shoot the ball well. I know that our percentage was low again tonight. We’ve just got to make more shots. We’ve got to stay on attack and find ways to get to the free throw line.” Martin also lamented a series of turnovers in the third quarter, saying, “Our guards just didn’t take care of the ball, which is unacceptable against a zone [defense]. We’ve just got to make better decisions. You can’t turn the ball over and have a chance to win. I thought they wanted it a little more than we did in the second half.”

 

GHS vs. LR Hall

Both Greenwood teams traveled to Little Rock last Friday to take on the Warriors and Lady Warriors of Hall High School, two of the best teams in the state in any classification. The Lady Bulldogs made a game of it before losing in a nail-biter, 70-68, while the Bulldogs were never in the game against the defending 6A state champs, losing 56-24.

For the GHS girls, senior point guard Lundon Williams put on a show offensively, scoring 34 points in the game to lead all GHS scorers. But it wasn’t enough to prevent a second straight conference loss. Greenwood actually led throughout the first half, 19-15 after one period and 33-27 at the half.

But the Lady Warriors stayed the course and gradually overtook the visitors in the second half, trimming their deficit to 49-48 after three quarters, before outscoring the Lady Bulldogs 22-19 over the final eight minutes, avenging an earlier loss at Greenwood.

The scoring woes continued for the GHS boys in the second game, with the Bulldogs netting just two points in the first quarter. After trailing 17-2, they fell behind by more than 30 points by the time the halftime buzzer sounded, with Hall comfortably on top, 39-8.

Greenwood managed just four points in the third quarter with the mercy rule in play and the clock running. Behind 46-13 after 24 minutes, the Bulldogs finally reached double digits in scoring in the fourth period before losing by 32 points. Senior Jordan Hernandez had nine points, while junior Pierce Evans came off the bench to score six points for Greenwood.

 

GHS vs. Parkview

The Greenwood boys stayed overnight in Little Rock, but the Lady Bulldogs returned home so some of the girls could take their ACT tests last Saturday morning before returning to Little Rock that afternoon for a 6 p.m. tip-off at Little Rock Parkview. But it was worth the effort as the GHS girls notched a much-needed conference win in surprisingly easy fashion, 65-40.

Greenwood led throughout the game after a big first quarter, outscoring the Lady Patriots 20-7 over the first eight minutes. The Lady ‘Dogs kept up the pressure with an equally impressive second period for a 40-19 halftime lead. Once again, Lundon Williams carried the load offensively for the visitors, on her way to back-to-back 30-point performances.

Down by 21 points, Parkview never made a serious effort to rally in the second half, trailing 55-40 after three periods, on their way to a 65-40 conference loss. Williams finished with 30 points for Greenwood after scoring 34 the night before against Little Rock Hall. Haleigh Henson also had 16 points.

In the boys’ contest, the Bulldogs made it somewhat competitive in the first half, trailing 13-9 after one period and 26-16 at the half. But the talented Patriots blew the game open in the second half on their way to a 64-33 victory. Evan Lensing had 12 points for Greenwood, followed by Kevin Jones and Drake Lee with six points each. Grant Morgan added four points.

 

This Week

This past Tuesday both Greenwood teams were at home against Fort Smith Northside. The Northsiders boast two of the top teams in the state with the Lady Grizzlies ranked number one in some polls, just ahead of the Lady Bulldogs. On Friday Greenwood will also host Mt. Saint Mary’s and Little Rock Catholic, with tip-off for the girls’ contest set for 6 p.m. with the boys to follow.

Greenwood will close out its regular season and conference schedule next week with games at Russellville (Tuesday) and at home against Conway (Friday). They will then prepare for the 6A state tournament to be played in Jonesboro on March 4-8.

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