As usual, GHS Head Coach Donnie Husband and his Bulldogs are playing shorthanded until football season ends when several of his top players make the transition from the gridiron to the hard court. That could happen as soon as next week after this coming Friday’s playoff game against the Benton Panthers. But GHS fans are hoping and betting the season will end the following week with a December 3rd date at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium in the 6A state title game. The Bulldogs have reached the championship game in six of the last seven seasons.
In the meantime, the door of opportunity is open for other players to step up and make a positive impression, earning playing time with the varsity squad even after the reinforcements arrive in a week or two. That’s what Coach Husband and assistant coach Dexter Pearcy are hoping for, at least.
Over the past two weeks the Bulldogs have played four games, splitting them for a 2-2 record, losing one of those games by just four points. They won’t play again until a December 6th date at Springdale, followed by a return trip to Northwest Arkansas on the 9th to take on Springdale Har-Ber.
On November 19th the Bulldogs traveled to Gravette to do battle with the Lions in a competitive back-and-forth contest. The home team outscored the visitors 13-7 in the opening stanza, but Greenwood rallied to win the second quarter, 13-9. Trailing 22-20 at the half, the game was still very much up for grabs, despite the Lions building a 37-30 advantage after three quarters.
The Bulldogs closed the gap over the final eight minutes, but it wasn’t enough, missing chances to tie the score or take a late lead. Ultimately, Gravette held on for the 48-44 victory. Coach Husband’s son, junior Josh Ligon, led his teammates in scoring with 14 points, followed by junior Braden Bollman with nine points.
Last Tuesday, November 15th, the GHS boys traveled to Clarksville for a tournament, opening with a 45-42 victory over the host Panthers. The game was close throughout with Greenwood leading 13-11 after one quarter and 27-21 at halftime. But a 14-8 scoring advantage in the third period gave the ‘Dogs some separation, though the Panthers rallied in the final period, outscoring Greenwood to narrow the final gap to three points. Once again it was Ligon and Bollman who led the way offensively for the Bulldogs with 18 and 16 points, respectively.
Two days later it was a different story against the Cyclones, also members of the 5A West conference along with Greenwood. Russellville is a perennial contender in the league and the two teams will meet again twice in conference play in 2023. But last week they bested the Bulldogs, 64-31, though the final margin was somewhat deceiving with Greenwood playing a lot of youngsters in the fourth period.
The Cyclones won all four quarters, leading 22-12 after eight minutes and 33-19 at the half. Russellville outscored Greenwood 13-9 in the third stanza and 18-3 in the fourth for the 33-point victory. No Greenwood player reached double figures in scoring. Sophomore Caleb Burnette led the way with nine points while Bollman added six points. Senior Dawson Holt and sophomore Jayden Garnes both had five points and senior Gavin White added four points.
The tournament finale for Greenwood last Saturday was against the Saints of Shiloh Christian, also playing shorthanded until football season is over, ending with a lopsided GHS victory, 52-21. A 20-8 scoring advantage in the first period set the tone, followed by a 10-2 GHS run in the second quarter. Trailing 30-10 at the half, the Saints failed to score a point in the third quarter as Greenwood built a 46-10 lead after three periods. The Saints did win the fourth stanza, 11-6. Josh Ligon and Dawson Holt both scored 13 points for the Bulldogs, while Jayden Garnes added 10 points.
Coach Husband was pleased with the two wins while lamenting the close loss at Gravette. Speaking of the Clarksville tournament he said, “I saw improvement as the week went on. I thought the Clarksville win was good. They had all their guys and we went into their building after losing that opener [at Gravette] and squeaked out a win. We had some good performances.
“The Russellville [game] turned out to be a blowout at the end, but I put some young guys in, and it was kind of an ugly finish to what had been a pretty decent game. I thought we competed pretty well. Even without some of our better players we didn’t wilt all night long,” he continued.
“Then we had a solid performance Saturday [against Shiloh] on both ends of the floor. We really guarded them and didn’t give them anything. After a slow start we settled in offensively and did a good job of getting shots. As the week went on, we got more comfortable. There’s just no substitute for putting the uniform on and going out and playing.
“I think down the road it will be beneficial to us. It will make those young guys better in practice and make them hungrier to compete hard, and some of the older guys will gain confidence to play varsity,” said the coach.