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Lady Bulldogs earned 20th win, suffer second loss

Lady Bulldogs earned 20th win, suffer second loss

By Richard White

The Greenwood Lady Bulldogs are the cream of the crop in Class 6A girls’ basketball in Arkansas for 2014-15, at least so far. They proved their metal once again with a tough road win at Van Buren on January 27th, followed by their 20th victory of the season three days later at home against overmatched Mount St. Mary of Little Rock. But they also suffered only their second loss of the season last Friday night at Class 7A Bryant.

The GHS girls are now 20-2 overall and finished the first half of the 7A/6A Central conference schedule unbeaten at 7-0. Their first loss was to Little Rock Hall on a neutral court in tournament play, though they won an earlier contest at Hall in November.

After last Friday’s league loss to Bryant, six conference games remain before the start of post-season play, starting with last Tuesday’s home contest with Siloam Springs (results unavailable) and this Friday’s game at Conway. The Lady Bulldogs appear destined to earn the top seed from the 6A Central for the state tournament in their quest for a second consecutive 6A championship.

 

At Bryant

No team or coach wants to lose, but sometimes a strategic loss can be a wakeup call to spur a good team on to future greatness. GHS Head Coach Clay Reeves hopes that’s the case with his Lady Bulldogs after suffering a narrow 55-51 road lost at Bryant last Friday night.

The contest was close throughout, with Greenwood trailing 13-10 after a sluggish first quarter offensively. But the Lady Bulldogs battled back to lead 26-22 at the half and were still clinging to a narrow 37-36 lead after three periods. But the Bryant girls made more plays than the visitors in the fourth quarter to earn the four-point upset victory.

Senior Peyton Clements had her best game of the season, according to Coach Reeves. She scored 15 points despite having just barely recovered from a bout of sickness. Senior Megan Hartness added 13 points, while senior Brittany Branum scored nine points and junior Maddie Goodner contributed eight points.

“Bryant did a great job,” said Coach Reeves. “I’ve got to give them credit. They moved the ball well and got open shots, and they hit their shots. They made all the plays they needed to make down the stretch in the fourth quarter. We just need to make those defensive plays in the fourth quarter when the other team gets on a roll.

“[Bryant] got a few too many open looks, and we’ve got to get out on them a little better,” said the coach. “But I think from watching the video on this game, our team will get better, and this is the time of year when we need to step it up another notch and get ready.

“We don’t look at the losses and wins, we just look at the effort. We don’t need to worry about the scoreboard, we just need to take care of ourselves and we’re going to be fine,” added Reeves.

Asked about the league standings, Reeves admitted, “I guess us and Conway are tied at 7-1, but the way they’ve got the 6A and 7A divided up, I don’t know if there’s a conference championship for 6A or 7A or whatever. Our ultimate goal is to be the best when we get to the state tournament, and try to win a state championship. I don’t think in the 12 years I’ve been here that we’ve talked about a conference championship. It’s the bigger goal that we are looking at. That’s still what we have our eyes on now.”

 

Mount St. Mary

GHS senior guard Megan Hartness (32) walks the ball up the court at H.B. Stewart Arena.

GHS senior guard Megan Hartness (32) walks the ball up the court at H.B. Stewart Arena.

The Lady Bulldogs had a much easier time of it on January 30th, closing out the first half of the 7A/6A Central schedule at home against the Mount St. Mary (MSM) Belles, taking an early lead and coasting to a 57-44 win. The contest wasn’t as close as the final score indicates, since Coach Reeves played his starters for only half of the game. Greenwood led 22-7 after one period and could have won by 50 points or more.

Maddie Goodner scored 15 points and Megan Hartness finished with 13 points, though she played less than two quarters, as the Lady Bulldogs remained perfect in league play and notched their 20th win, marking the seventh straight season they have done so under Coach Reeves. Others who scored for Greenwood included Peyton Clements with 10 points, while Brittany Branum and Emma Jewel added six points each.

The game’s outcome was never in doubt. The Lady Bulldogs led by 20 at the half (33-11) and enjoyed a double-digit margin throughout the game. Few of Greenwood’s regulars saw much time on the floor in the second half. MSM, winners of only four games all season, actually won the second half offensively, outscoring the GHS reserves 16-9 and 17-15 in the final two quarters.

Despite the ease of the victory, Greenwood was just 11-of-34 shooting from the field in the first half, and finished 18-for-60 overall. But the Belles contributed to a big start for Greenwood by turning the ball over 18 times in the first half alone. They finished with 30 turnovers total for the game.

The Lady Bulldogs enjoyed some well-deserved time off last weekend, but return to the practice floor this week to polish their game for the stretch run of the conference season that begins Friday at Bryant. They will play again at home next Tuesday against 6A opponent Siloam Springs.

 

At Van Buren

Coming off a lackluster, foul-plagued, low-scoring victory at Russellville, the GHS girls had their hands full with the Lady Pointers at Van Buren on January 27th. Senior Megan Hartness hit six free throws in the final 36 seconds, allowing Greenwood to finally pull away for a 58-54 win. The Lady ‘Dogs trailed at the half for the first time in league play, and also trailed at the start of the fourth quarter.

But Greenwood forced a very good Lady Pointers squad into five straight scoreless possessions, including four turnovers, and answered with a 6-0 scoring run in the opening minutes of the final stanza to take the lead for good at 49-45. The visitors led 12-9 after one period, but trailed 29-27 at the half.

“We didn’t do much different,” said GHS Head Coach Clay Reeves. “Our kids just played a little bit harder. Van Buren did a great job game planning, and that slowed us down. That disrupted us. [But] Megan [Hartness] hit some shots, and Brittany [Branum] got some great rebounds when we weren’t scoring,” added Reeves.

Trailing by two points (45-43) after three periods, the Lady Bulldogs regained the lead with their 6-0 run and tight defense, forcing the home team to play catch-up the rest of the way. A three-pointer at 2:41 kept Van Buren close at 50-49, but the Lady Pointers were never able to tie the score or regain the lead.

In the closing minutes, Megan Hartness used the glass to bank home a jumper with 2:18 left, then nailed a pair of crucial free throws with 36 seconds showing on the clock. Another Van Buren trey kept the score close, but Hartness added two more charity shots with 18 ticks left. Both teams traded free throws in the remaining time, the last two again by Hartness to seal the four-point win.

 

“When it came time in the fourth quarter, and it was tied or we were down, we hit the baskets we needed and got the rebounds we needed to get,” said Coach Reeves. “Van Buren played great. They moved the ball well and they shot the ball well. They did everything they needed to do. We just won the game.”

Hartness finished the contest with a team-high 21 points. Brittany Branum added 16 points and snatched eight rebounds, including a pair of offensive rebounds that she converted into three-point plays under the basket. The first one came at the start of the second quarter, while the second one ended the third quarter and moved Greenwood to within two points of the lead. She also added a three-pointer. Senior Sydnie Henson added nine points and junior Maddie Goodner had seven points.

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