Bulldogs facing must-win games as regular season nears end

Bulldogs facing must-win games as regular season nears end

Two weeks ago the GHS varsity boys put themselves into the conference post-season conversation with a four-game victory streak, ultimately winning five of six against league opponents. But recent back-to-back losses to Russellville and Van Buren have put a dent in their playoff hopes, forcing them into a must-win situation with three games remaining in the regular season.

Last Friday’s planned road trip to Vilonia was postponed due to travel concerns related to wintry weather, and the week ahead does not look promising for a makeup date. With a major winter storm approaching, Greenwood’s scheduled home games next Tuesday against Siloam Springs appears very questionable. They are slated to travel to Mountain Home next Friday, their last and longest road trip of the season.

Any league games that can’t be made up will require a conference tournament to determine the four playoff teams to represent the 5A West in the state tournament the first week of March. The teams with the best league record would host those games starting the week of February 22nd. The GHS boys are currently 9-12 overall and 5-6 in conference play.

Greenwood 42, Russellville 66

Neither team scored in the game’s opening two minutes. After the Cyclones went up 2-0, a quick response by the Bulldogs led to an easy bucket underneath by center Braden Stein off a pass from sophomore Aiden Kennon. But Russellville scored the next 15 points to close the period up 17-2.

Senior Evan Bartlett finally broke the GHS scoring drought with a nice inside move 12 seconds into the new quarter, but the Cyclones (14-6, 9-1) maintained their double-digit advantage throughout the period, leading 32-18 after 16 minutes.

It was Bartlett who netted the first basket of the third quarter for Greenwood, scoring off an offensive rebound after teammate Sam Forbus missed on a three-pointer. But the ‘Dogs simply couldn’t find a crack in the Cyclones’ armor, never able to get the deficit below double figures.

With 4:15 left in the period Russellville went up by 20 points, 45-25, and never looked back. Russellville led 52-32 after three quarters and both teams pulled their starters midway through the final period. The Cyclones won the last eight minutes by a score of 14-10 to account for the final margin of 24 points.

Statistically, the Bulldogs were led in scoring by Evan Bartlett with 15 points to go along with four rebounds, the only GHS player in double figures. Aiden Kennon added eight points and Chase Beshears scored six points off the bench. Seniors Caleb Ligon and Braden Stein scored five and four points, respectively, suffering some early foul trouble.

Van Buren 60, Greenwood 45

The last time these teams met, a makeup game on January 30th, the Bulldogs’ nemesis was the Pointers’ Avery Salisbury, who hit six three-pointers in Van Buren’s four-point home victory. But last Tuesday at H.B. Stewart Arena he got plenty of help from his teammates, three of which scored in double digits to support Salisbury’s 19 points.

Van Buren opened the scoring with a long three-pointer, countered on the other end of the court by Braden Stein with an offensive rebound and put back off the glass. Another Van Buren three was followed by a reverse layup by Greenwood’s Aiden Kennon. But the Pointers soon went ahead 11-4 before Greenwood Head Coach Donnie Husband called a timeout.

Caleb Ligon hit a three-pointer coming out of the timeout, but Van Buren’s Jose Estrada hit his fourth trey of the period to put the Pointers up 14-7. Sam Forbus nailed a three-pointer for the Bulldogs, but Van Buren’s Brandon Miller countered with a three of his own. The visitors led 17-10 after one period.

Things only got worse for Greenwood in the second period with Van Buren scoring the first four points for a double-digit lead at 21-10. Braden Stein scored inside at the 3:55 mark to trim the GHS deficit to 27-21, but moments later the Pointers converted a four-point play to push their lead back to 10 points. Van Buren led 33-21 at the half.

Caleb Ligon scored early in the third period and Braden Stein followed with a nice inside move and basket, cutting the Van Buren lead to eight points. But a pair of Van Buren three-pointers quickly pushed the Greenwood deficit back to 14 points at 39-25. The Bulldogs trailed 50-35 after three periods.

Van Buren expanded its lead to 20 points, 59-39, just over three minutes into the final period, and the Bulldogs were never able to make a serious run over the last five minutes. The Bulldogs got it down to 17 points, but the Pointers milked the clock to protect their lead.

Sam Forbus and Aiden Kennon each scored 12 points for Greenwood, while Braden Stein added 10 to go along with seven rebounds. Evan Bartlett did not score but grabbed five boards. Caleb Ligon added seven points as Greenwood and Van Buren evened their conference records at 5-6, though the Pointers won both games against the Bulldogs this season.

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