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Bulldogs’ Struggles Continue on the Road at Conway
GHS senior guard Evan Lensing (24) scored 24 points last Friday at Conway, though the Bulldogs lost yet another close game. Lensing is the only returning starter from last year for head coach Brian Martin and is the team’s leading scorer this season. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

Bulldogs’ Struggles Continue on the Road at Conway

Greenwood Bulldogs’ Struggles Continue on the Road at Conway

By Richard White

After losing their first four conference games this season, the Conway Wampus Cats won their third straight league contest last Friday night, downing the GHS Bulldogs, 53-41. It was the sixth loss in seven games for Greenwood in the tough 7A/6A Central conference, as they battle through inexperience and injuries at the mid-point of the league schedule.

After losing four of five starters to graduation last spring, Greenwood Bulldogs Basketball head coach Brian Martin knew this would be a rebuilding year for his Bulldogs. But his job got even harder recently when it was learned that 6’5” senior forward Ryan Davis would be lost for the remainder of the season with complications from a broken wrist suffered earlier in pre-season drills.

GHS Senior Ryan Davis (12) handles the basketball against the Northside Grizzlies. Unfortunately, due to an injury, Davis’ season is now over, and his presence on the floor will be sorely missed by the Bulldogs, who need his size, scoring ability, and experience. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

GHS Senior Ryan Davis (12) handles the basketball against the Northside Grizzlies. Unfortunately, due to an injury, Davis’ season is now over, and his presence on the floor will be sorely missed by the Bulldogs, who need his size, scoring ability, and experience. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

Davis had briefly returned to action and turned in a pair of nice performances before getting the bad news from his doctor. Although not a starter last season, Davis was one of only two returning players with significant experience, the other being starting guard Evan Lensing, who paced Greenwood against Conway with a team-high 24 points.

In last Friday’s contest, the Bulldogs kept the game close in the first half and trailed only by two points at the intermission, 21-19. But the Wampus Cats won the third quarter 16-10 to take a 37-29 advantage into the final period on their way to the 53-41 victory.

The loss dropped the Bulldogs’ record to 4-13 overall and 1-6 in league play. The GHS boys enjoyed a day off this past Tuesday, an open date on the conference schedule, but will travel to Little Rock Parkview this Friday. They will return home to H.B. Stewart Arena next Tuesday, hosting Forth Smith Southside. Four of their seven remaining league games will be at home.

 

GHS vs. Russellville

At home last Tuesday (January 28th), the Bulldogs played hard as always, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a loss to the Cyclones of Russellville, 47-41. The game was close throughout, with the home team staying within striking distance, even holding a brief lead after eight minutes of play. Trailing by four points early (9-5), the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run to lead 13-9 late in the first quarter, before a Russellville three-pointer trimmed the margin to a single point.

The visitors also scored the first seven points of the second quarter, prompting Coach Martin to call a timeout. But the move worked, as Greenwood got consecutive baskets from senior center Jordan Hernandez and junior guard Mason Cantrell. A short time later Even Lensing drained a three-pointer to cut the Russellville lead to 21-19, but the Cyclones closed the half strong with a 5-0 run.

Trailing 26-19 at the half, the Bulldogs continued to battle in the third quarter, cutting the visitor’s lead to 32-30 at the 3:27 mark, resulting in a Russellville timeout to regroup. After play resumed, the home team got a rare three-pointer from Hernandez to tie the score at 33-all. The big man also scored Greenwood’s final points of the period after an offensive rebound, and the ‘Dogs trailed only 37-35 with eight minutes remaining.

Senior Evan Lensing helped to keep Greenwood in the game early in the fourth period with a pair of baskets, including a three-pointer, and the Bulldogs trailed 42-41 with 2:30 left to play. But it was all Russellville after that, with the Cyclones scoring the final five points of the contest, all from the charity stripe. The Bulldogs were led offensively by Hernandez and Lensing, both scoring in double digits. Hernandez also had several blocked shots in the game.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end of the game,” said Coach Martin. “But when you lose, you think about the stuff you didn’t do well. I think we had 22 or 23 turnovers, and a lot of those ended up with two points in the other direction. And then free throws. We’ve got to do a better job of making free throws as a team. In hindsight, if we make some free throws and cut down on turnovers? But that’s basketball. On a positive note, I thought we attacked the basket better than we have been, and it worked for us.”

 

At LR Catholic

The Bulldogs traveled to Little Rock on Friday, Janaury 24th, to take on the Catholic Rockets, another team struggling in the 7A/6A Central. But the story was much the same as it’s been all season, with Greenwood playing well enough to keep the score respectable, before ultimately losing the game. And for senior Ryan Davis, it was the last game of the season and of his high school career, due to continuing problems with a broken wrist injured before the season started.

Trailing 37-31 after three periods, the Bulldogs lost by a similar margin, 52-45. In his final performance, Davis played very well despite the wrist pain in his non-shooting hand, scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds. “We’re definitely going to miss him, but the other guys are going to have to step up. I hate it for him. He’s a senior. It’s a tough loss for him,” said Martin.

 

At Northside

On Tuesday, Janaury 22nd, the Bulldogs traveled down Highway 71 to Fort Smith to take on the Class 7A Northside Grizzlies in conference action, losing 69-48 in a game that was never really close. Greenwood fell behind by double digits early in the game and trailed 22-8 after one period and 36-18 at the half. The Grizzlies benefited from some early hot shooting from the perimeter.

 

Greenwood junior Kevin Jones passes the ball in this action shot from Fort Smith Northside in late Janaury. The Bulldogs will travel to Little Rock Parkview this Friday and will host Fort Smith Southside next Tuesday night at H.B. Stewart Arena. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

Greenwood junior Kevin Jones passes the ball in this action shot from Fort Smith Northside in late Janaury. The Bulldogs will travel to Little Rock Parkview this Friday and will host Fort Smith Southside next Tuesday night at H.B. Stewart Arena. (Photo courtesy of thegreenwooddogpound.com)

But when the three-pointers failed to find their mark in the second half, the talented Grizzlies adjusted well to a slower pace and a more traditional half-court offense. The Bulldogs were outscored 22-12 in the third period and trailed 58-30 heading into the fourth quarter, narrowly avoiding implementation of the mercy rule. However, they did win the fourth quarter 18-11 as Northside began to insert several players off its bench.

Greenwood had only one player in double figures offensively. Evan Lensing led the team with 10 points, followed by Kevin Jones with seven, Ryan Padilla with six, Grant Morgan with five, Michael Rhea and Ryan Davis with four points apiece, while Logan Hollinsaid and Jackson Cole each had three points.

 

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