It’s been a difficult start to the season for the Greenwood Bulldogs (3-10) varsity basketball team under new Head Coach Donnie Husband. But the team got a much-needed boost of morale and confidence with a pair of wins in tournament play in Hot Springs right after Christmas.
The event was the Spa City Classic and the Bulldogs played three games in three days starting on December 27th, winning twice. They also played Dardanelle six days before Christmas and opened their 5A West conference schedule last Friday by hosting the Warriors of Little Rock Christian.
The ‘Dogs continue league play by traveling to Russellville this coming Friday before hosting Vilonia next Tuesday at H.B. Stewart Arena after the varsity girls’ contest, which begins at 6 p.m.
Last Friday’s conference opener got off to a rough start for the Bulldogs, who trailed the visiting Warriors 13-4 at the 3:29 mark of the first period. Junior forward Jayce Garnes then scored twice in the paint and junior Cameron Hampton sank a three-pointer, cutting the deficit to 15-11 with :45 seconds remaining.
The visitors led 17-11 as the second stanza began and both teams traded three-pointers to start the scoring, with senior guard James Christian doing the honors for the Bulldogs. But LRC scored six straight points to go up 26-14 at the five-minute mark.
Garnes scored the next three baskets for Greenwood, but the Warriors continued to push their lead with another six-point run. By the time senior forward Jack Gaston hit the final bucket of the half for the ‘Dogs, the visitors were up by double digits, 38-24.
The Warriors exploded offensively in the third period, putting the game away. They scored 27 points, jump-started by an 8-0 run to begin the quarter, including a pair of three-pointers, putting them up 46-24 before Coach Husband called a timeout from the GHS bench.
When play resumed, the LRC scoring barrage was only temporarily interrupted by a pair of GHS buckets from junior guard Aaron Ligon. The Warriors then strung together 19 consecutive points before sophomore center Braden Stein scored the final basket of the quarter for Greenwood.
Trailing 65-30 with eight minutes left, the Bulldogs scored the first seven points of the final period, including baskets by Hampton and Garnes and a trey by sophomore guard Caleb Ligon. LRC then pulled its starters and finished the game with reserves on their way to the 67-41 victory.
Jayce Garnes scored 16 points to pace Greenwood offensively, followed by Hampton and Caleb Ligon with five points each. Coach Husband was disappointed with his team’s effort in the loss.
“I didn’t think we defended well at all,” said the coach. “[LRC] shot the ball extremely well, better than at any time all season long. I’ve seen most of their games on film, [but] their peripheral guys killed us.
“We didn’t have many answers tonight. We turned the ball over too many times and had too many questionable shot selections,” he added.
“We just don’t do a very good job of getting into our offense. When you’ve got young kids trying to play the point, we just struggle to have any flow offensively. We can’t get the ball where we need it. I’m not laying it on them. In the end it’s on me. It was tough. I expected more tonight,” said Husband.
The new GHS coach, with over 30 years of head coaching experience in Oklahoma, also learned recently that his assistant, Matt Bryant, has been reassigned to lead the Lady Bulldogs program in the absence of Head Coach Clay Reeves, who is taking medical leave for the remainder of the school year.
Bryant was previously a head coach in Oklahoma and even won a state title, but has never coached high school girls. That leaves Husband alone to run his practices, though he is joined on the bench for games by junior high Head Coach Jake Hindman.
Spa City Classic
Two days after Christmas the Bulldogs played the first of three games in Hot Springs against Fountain Lake, a very good Class 3A school sporting an excellent record (14-3).
But a disastrous first period quickly put the ‘Dogs behind the Cobras, who led 8-0 after eight minutes. After failing to score in the opening period, Greenwood rebounded with 12 second-quarter points to trail at the half, 16-12.
The Bulldogs remained close after three periods, down by just six points, 26-20, but they failed to make a run in the fourth quarter and were outscored 15-6 down the stretch, losing 41-26.
Jayce Garnes led the team in scoring with 10 points, the only Bulldog in double figures offensively. Cameron Hampton added six points and Jack Gaston five points.
The next two days saw better results for Greenwood, winning a pair of games over Mt. Ida and Mountain Pine. Coach Husband talked about the victories and their impact on his players.
“I think it made them feel a little bit better about themselves. I was happy for them because they have worked extremely hard,” he said.
But the coach, who got his 600th career win earlier this season, identified his team’s major challenge so far this season. “Our biggest problem is that we can’t take the things we do every day in practice and transfer them to [our] games.”
The ‘Dogs had a veritable offensive explosion against Class 2A Mt. Ida, scoring 15, 20, 22, and 12 points, respectively, in each quarter. They led 15-14 after one period, and 35-20 at the break before putting the game out-of-reach in the second half, winning 69-39.
Eleven Bulldogs scored in the contest, led by senior forward Dalton Russell with 15 points, including four three-pointers. Jayce Garnes added 13 points and Cameron Hampton 10 points.
Against Class 1A Mountain Pine the ‘Dogs fell behind early, trailing 9-4 after one period, but rallied in the second half for the win after being down 21-17 at the intermission.
Greenwood won the third and fourth quarter scoring battles 12-11 and 18-7, respectively, to pull out their third victory of the season, 47-39.
Jack Gaston had one of his best games of the season offensively, with 18 points to top the scoring chart. Jayce Garnes added eight points while Cameron Hampton contributed seven points.
Before Christmas, on December 19th, Greenwood travelled to Dardanelle in Yell County to face the Class 4A school, losing to the Sand Lizards (13-2) in a close battle, 38-35.
The game was competitive throughout, with the Bulldogs leading 9-7 after one period and 22-18 at the break. But a poor offensive showing by Greenwood in the third quarter allowed Dardanelle to grab the lead after 24 minutes, 31-26.
The ‘Dogs narrowly won the battle of the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, 9-7, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the three-point loss.
Jayce Garnes led the scoring for Greenwood with 13 points, followed by Cameron Hampton with eight points and Jack Gaston with six points.