Lady Bulldogs end their season with state tournament loss to Jonesboro, 67-60

Lady Bulldogs end their season with state tournament loss to Jonesboro, 67-60

The Greenwood Lady Bulldogs, listed at the top of the Class 5A rankings for most of the season, bowed out of the state tournament last Friday afternoon, suffering a seven-point loss to the Jonesboro Lady Hurricane in the second round. Greenwood beat Jonesboro last season in the first round, 54-43, but in 2018 the same two teams battled it out for the state title, with Jonesboro winning, 57-44.

Four of Greenwood’s current players, all seniors, were on all those teams. Kinley Fisher, Haven Clements, Shea Goodwin, and Ally Sockey all played significant roles as freshman and some even started back in 2018. That remarkable quartet of players have won 89 games in their varsity careers, certainly rivaling any four-year stretch in school history.

Ironically, the same issue that hurt them in the 2018 state finals reared its head once again in the 2021 state tournament. Greenwood went cold from the floor and especially from beyond the three-point line, which has been this group’s strength throughout their careers. The Lady Bulldogs shot the three-ball poorly against Hot Springs in the first round last Tuesday, though they won the game, 65-44, earning a state tournament rematch with the Lady ‘Canes.

In 2018 the GHS girls made just 12 of 58 shots overall and were an astonishing four-of-32 beyond the arc, and still lost to Jonesboro by just 13 points. They didn’t shoot quite that poorly last Friday, making far fewer long-distance attempts, but again they made only four three-pointers in the game, and none in the first half.

Still, it’s amazing what this group of five seniors (Fisher, Sockey, Clements, Goodwin), plus reserve player Evan Brown has accomplished despite the hurdles they’ve had to overcome. Four of them played and lost in the state finals as freshmen. As sophomores they reached the state semifinals under an interim coach after losing Coach Reeves months earlier due to a health issue. Then in 2020 they qualified for the state finals only to have the game cancelled due to Covid-19. They were awarded a state championship along with their scheduled opponent, Nettleton High School.

All state tournament games are being live-streamed on the internet this year due to Covid-19 concerns, with Tim Terry and Dustin Smith on the broadcast for both of Greenwood’s games. After the loss, Dr. Smith, also Greenwood’s Athletic Director, offered a few words of consolation and congratulations for the Lady Bulldogs.

“It’s all about playing [well] at the right time,” he said, and that’s true of any post-season tournament. The bracket also matters. Jonesboro upset Batesville in their conference tournament final to end up on Greenwood’s side of the bracket. Conversely, the Lady Bulldogs lost to Vilonia in the finals of their league tournament to fall to the #2 seed at state. Greenwood’s three-point shooting woes began in the second half against Vilonia and continued through their two state tournament games.

Enough cannot be said about the work ethic and dedication these seniors have displayed over the past four years and the thrills they have given GHS fans. They are good students as well and represent the school district with distinction, and all of them will likely continue their athletic careers in college, some in basketball and some in softball.

Now, Ally Sockey, Haven Clements, and Kinley Fisher will move on to the Lady Bulldogs’ softball team, expected to make their own run at a state championship later this spring. Sockey’s dad is the team’s head coach, and his daughter is the starting shortstop. Clements is the team’s top pitcher and Fisher is a super sub who can play several positions. Shea Goodwin is planning to join the girls’ soccer team, so these special girls will continue to build on their athletic legacy at Greenwood over the next couple months. GHS sports fans should come out and watch them while they still can.

Dr. Smith also called the starting seniors “an incredible foursome” who have given their all, while also hailing the contributions of the team’s fifth senior, Evan Brown. Becoming Athletic Director at Greenwood while those girls were in junior high, Smith has watched them grow up and develop both as outstanding student-athletes and as young women with bright futures. Their parents should be proud and congratulated for a job well done. So, thanks, ladies, for the great memories.

Greenwood 60, Jonesboro 67

The lack of success from behind the three-point line put added pressure on the Lady Bulldogs (22-5) to drive the ball inside where the Lady Hurricane (21-6) had a definite size advantage with 6’3” Destiny Thomas and 6’1” Lakiya Scott around the paint. Thomas and Jonesboro point guard Ereauna Hardaway, both juniors, are also Division-I college recruits.

Thomas finished the game with a double-double, 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Hardaway led all scorers with 25 points, including 11 of 13 at the line, and deftly handled Greenwood’s pressure defense while playing all 32 minutes. Scott also contributed 17 points, including a trio of three-pointers.

Fouls also played a role in Friday’s contest. Greenwood ultimately had three starters (Clements, Goodwin, Cartwright) with four fouls and Shea Goodwin finally fouled out in the final moments. Jonesboro was also in foul trouble when Thomas picked up her fourth in the third quarter, but after spending some time on the bench she was able to navigate her way to the final buzzer. The Lady Hurricane were able to hold off Greenwood in the fourth period at the free throw line.

After a pair of Kinley Fisher free throws put them up 2-0, the Lady Bulldogs fell behind early and played catchup for the rest of the game. Greenwood led briefly 4-3 and 10-9 midway through the opening period, but Haven Clements, the team’s top rebounder, picked up her third foul less than five minutes into the game and was forced to the bench. Jonesboro led 17-14 after eight minutes.

The teams traded baskets through the first five minutes of the second period and the Lady Bulldogs cut the margin to one point on two occasions. But Jonesboro expanded its lead to eight points (34-26) with about a minute left in the half before Mady Cartwright scored Greenwood’s last four points to make the halftime margin 36-30.

Both teams held their ground in the third stanza, though a three-point basket by Jonesboro just before the buzzer was a blow to the Lady Bulldogs, making their mountain a little higher and harder to climb in the fourth quarter, trailing 52-44. Greenwood finally hit a pair of three-pointers in the period to match the opposition.

With the clock ticking down on their season and the careers of their four starting seniors, the GHS girls did their best to make a run in the fourth quarter, despite falling behind by ten points (54-44) early in the period. A Kinley Fisher trey and a basket by freshman Anna Trusty cut the margin to five points, prompting a timeout from the Jonesboro bench.

But when play resumed, Greenwood could get no closer than two points (58-56) at the 3:30 mark, battling Jonesboro’s size inside and unable to hit a sufficient number of outside jumpers. At the same time, the Lady Hurricane were deadly from the free throw line, hitting 18 of 24 charity shots for the game.

Kinley Fisher scored 25 points and finished her four-year career at Greenwood as the school’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing recent Lady Bulldogs’ greats Megan Hartness and Lundon Williams, all of which have played for Head Coach Clay Reeves. Fisher also had four rebounds in the game to go along with two steals and an assist.

In a preview of coming attractions, ninth-grader Anna Trusty had a great game off the bench with 16 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. She has three years remaining in her GHS career and will likely become a starter next season as the Lady Bulldogs look to replace four-fifths of their starting lineup.

The only returning starter next season will be Mady Cartwright. The sophomore forward had 10 points, two rebounds, two steals, and two assists in the game despite her foul troubles. Ally Sockey, hampered of late by a tender ankle, also scored seven points and had seven rebounds. Junior Abby Summitt, another starting candidate next season, had two points and nine rebounds.

Besides hitting no three-pointers in the first half and only four for the game, the Lady Bulldogs made just 22 field goals in 64 attempts or just 34%. “Overall, we didn’t shoot very well,” said Coach Reeves after the game. “We got a lot of shots. Tons of great shots that we shoot every day. Shots that we make all the time. Shots that we wanted, that were right there on the rim that [were] just barely off.”

Greenwood 65, Hot Springs 44

The Hot Springs Lady Trojans had the dubious privilege of facing the defending state champions in the opening round of the 5A state tournament last Wednesday. But the 4 p.m. tip-off was merely a formality as the Lady Bulldogs rolled to a 21-point win despite poor outside shooting throughout the game. Still, the Hot Springs girls put up a good fight.

With the aid of Mady Cartwright’s three-pointer, the GHS girls took a 5-0 lead after the first minute, then added to it with three scores down low, the first by Ally Sockey then two more by Cartwright, the second of which came after a steal. Sockey then added a pair of free throws for a 13-0 Greenwood lead.

The host Lady Trojans finally got on the scoreboard at the 3:28 mark, and found themselves trailing 19-4 after one period. The Lady Bulldogs got additional baskets from Haven Clements and Anna Trusty, plus a pair of free throws from Kinley Fisher, adding to her career scoring record.

Greenwood scored 13 points in the second stanza, 12 of those points coming on three-pointers, accounting for four of their seven total treys in the game. The long-distance bombs came from Fisher and Abby Summitt, who hit two each, but the team missed many more threes throughout the game. Fisher also added a free throw to complete a four-point play, making the halftime score 32-21 as Hot Springs scored the last five points of the period.

The Lady Bulldogs nearly doubled their lead in the third quarter, sparked by an early three-ball from Mady Cartwright, putting them up 35-21. Cartwright also drove to the basket and scored, drawing a foul and making the free throw, giving Greenwood a 15-point lead at 38-23.

Ahead 46-32 with about two minutes remaining in the period, Greenwood scored the last seven points of the quarter to lead 53-32 as the game entered the fourth stanza. Fisher accounted for all seven points with a three-pointer, an inside basket, and a pair of free throws.

The Lady Bulldogs then went up by 25 early in the final period on successive layups by Anna Trusty, Fisher, and Trusty again. Shea Goodwin added a layup, Cartwright scored inside, and junior Megan Gray drained a long jumper at the buzzer to account for the final margin of 65-44.

Kinley Fisher led the way with 20 points, followed by Mady Cartwright with 18 to go along with four rebounds and four steals. Abby Summitt added seven points with three boards, three steals, and two assists. Ally Sockey had six points with four rebounds, five steals, and two assists. Anna Trusty also scored six points, while Shea Goodwin had four points, four assists, and three steals.

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