The Greenwood Bulldogs started 5A West conference play nearly two weeks ago on January 10th at Little Rock Christian Academy. Last week they hosted Russellville on Tuesday before traveling to Vilonia last Friday. They welcomed Siloam Springs to H.B. Stewart Arena this past Tuesday, but results were not available at press time.
Head Coach Donnie Husband, assistant Matt Bryant, and their players continue to look for their first conference victory in the past two years after going winless in league play last season.
The hard-working but undersized Bulldogs continue to struggle offensively against bigger, quicker teams, averaging less than 40 points per game so far this season in league play.
Greenwood’s offensive troubles were never more apparent than last Friday at Vilonia, a 49-19 loss to the highly ranked Eagles (14-2), the favorite to win the league title.
The ‘Dogs did not reach double digits in points in any quarter. Greenwood trailed 22-6 after one period and 39-11 at the half. Vilonia coasted through the second half, but still outscored the Bulldogs 10-8.
Senior Jayce Garnes led Greenwood with eight points.
The Bulldogs actually led (13-12) after one period at home against the Cyclones last Tuesday, January 14th. But that lead vanished abruptly when the visitors went on a 9-0 scoring run to begin the second period.
Russellville’s outburst was aided by multiple Greenwood turnovers. Another 10-0 run soon followed that ended with a 36-21 advantage for the Cyclones at the intermission.
Things didn’t improve for Greenwood in the second half as the visiting Cyclones were 7-of-11 shooting in the third period and increased their lead to 56-31 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Junior center Braden Stein and junior guard Caleb Ligon each scored 10 points for Greenwood.
After the game Coach Husband talked about the early mistakes. “I thought they were unforced turnovers. Obviously [Russellville] was athletic, but I didn’t think we took care of it very well and weren’t strong enough with the basketball in those situations where we needed to make one more pass to get out of the trap.
“It’s hard for us to replicate every day what we see in the game. We’re trying, but we don’t have that kind of quickness, so sometimes it takes us by surprise, and depth also comes into play.
When you get a little winded or mentally fatigued from chasing [the ball], it usually leads to two or three turnovers in a row that end up as layups on the other end.
“I know it’s frustrating,” said the coach. “[The players] want to do it and can do it, but we just have a hard time sustaining it for whatever reason. I’ve got to figure out some way to help them a little more.
Stein and sophomore guard Samuel Forbus each scored 10 points against the Warriors in the conference opener on January 10th. Junior Evan Bartlett added nine points, while Garnes had eight points and Caleb Ligon had seven points in the 63-46 loss.
Unfortunately, the opening quarter set the tone for the rest of the game. The Bulldogs scored just three points and trailed 14-3 after eight minutes.
They recovered somewhat in the second period, but were still down 33-19 at the half. The Warriors won the scoring battle in the third and fourth quarters as well for the 17-point win.
Ironically, the post-game stats weren’t much different for either team except in one area – steals – or turnovers. The Warriors were able to swipe the ball 11 times from Greenwood, while the Bulldogs had just one takeaway.
The Bulldogs were slightly better than LRC in almost every category, including rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, three-pointers, and free throws, yet still lost the game.
“We spotted them 12 points right off the bat and committed a lot of soft, reach-in fouls,” said Coach Husband. We weren’t very aggressive to start with, but after that we settled in and played well.
“There’s always that little stretch where we can’t take care of the ball, and we’re fighting up hill after that,” he added. “It’s just tough.
“In some aspects we really have gotten better offensively, probably at the expense of our defense,” explained the coach. “In the second quarter we probably missed seven or eight shots that were right there, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”