Lady Bulldogs looking for 3-peat at state tourney; Trusty becomes GHS top scorer in school history

Lady Bulldogs looking for 3-peat at state tourney; Trusty becomes GHS top scorer in school history

The Greenwood Lady Bulldogs are back in the 5A state tournament and hope to accomplish the rare feat of winning back-to-back-to-back state championships. It would be another shining accolade for Head Coach Clay Reeves after winning his 800th career game during the regular season. He already has 10 state titles – three at Greenland and seven at Greenwood – and this year’s team (24-4, 13-1) must be considered a favorite to win it all again.

That’s not a slight against the competition, because there are some good teams in the tournament field that hope to dethrone the Lady Bulldogs. Teams like Vilonia, Greene County Tech, Searcy, Lake Hamilton, and others, including Russellville and Mountain Home, both from the 5A West. Vilonia beat Greenwood earlier this season, 68-63, and Russellville is ranked 10th overall in the state.

The GHS girls beat Russellville both times this season and split with Mountain Home in league play. According to the national Scorebook Live website, Greenwood is also ranked fourth in the state behind North Little Rock, Farmington, and Conway. The Lady Bulldogs lost to NLR (62-44) and defeated Conway (73-67) in non-conference play. So, the GHS ladies are accustomed to playing top notch opponents and have won more than their fair share of such games this season and in years past.

The Greenwood girls are also coming into the postseason tournament riding a 10-game conference winning streak, so they are peaking at the right time. Over the past two weeks they closed out their regular season and league schedule with dominant victories over Siloam Springs, Mountain Home, Alma, and Greenbrier. The Lady Bulldogs have also scored 80 or more points in each of their last five games. They have been nothing but dominant down the stretch.

Siloam Springs

Greenwood traveled to Siloam Springs the day before Valentine’s Day and allowed the Lady Panthers to take a 2-0 lead before tying the game on a pair of free throws by senior Carley Sexton. Junior Izzy Smith followed with a three-pointer and sophomore Kylah Pearcy added three consecutive buckets in the paint for an 11-7 lead. Greenwood then went on a 21-0 run to the end of the period, sparked by stifling defense that forced numerous turnovers leading to easy baskets on the other end. The Lady Bulldogs lead 32-7 after eight minutes.

The visitors scored 21 additional points in the second quarter to lead 53-14 at the break. Coach Reeves started subbing early, relieving his starters in favor of players like Pate Jones, Jenna Honkala, Piper Pitts, and Journey Clements. Greenwood led by more than 50 points after three quarters, 75-22, and cleared the bench in the fourth stanza. The final score was 85-25.

Senior Anna Trusty and Izzy Smith shared the scoring honors with 19 points each. Kylah Pearcy added 13 points and Pate Jones added 10 points off the bench. Senior Brooklyn Woolsey scored eight points and Carly Sexton had seven points. Jenna Honkala scored four points and Journey Clements hit a three-pointer.

Mountain Home

Three days later, on Friday, February 16th, Greenwood hosted the Lady Bombers, who earlier defeated Greenwood, 55-46. But Mountain Home lost to Russellville for the second time on the Tuesday before coming to H.B. Stewart Arena on Friday, leaving the Lady Bulldogs alone in first place at 10-1 with Mountain Home one game behind at 9-2, tied with Russellville. A win over the Lady Bombers would secure the conference title and #1 playoff seed for the Lady Bulldogs.

Anna Trusty scored on a short jumper and Carley Sexton hit a three-pointer for an early 5-0 GHS lead. But the Mountain Home girls rallied to tie the score at 16-all after one period. But in the second quarter the Lady Bulldogs began to create some distance between themselves and the Lady Bombers. A Brooklyn Woolsey three-pointer made it 19-16 at the 7:00 mark and an Anna Trusty long-range bomb made it 26-20 at the 4:00 mark. A Trusty putback and a Carley Sexton jumper gave Greenwood a double-digit lead at 30-20 with two minutes left. The home team led 34-24 at halftime.

Woolsey hit consecutive three-pointers to start the GHS scoring in the second half as the Lady Bulldogs gradually padded their lead, going up 56-38 at the end of the third quarter. It was Woolsey again with a scoop shot and free throw that started the scoring in the fourth period, putting Greenwood up by more than 20 points. The GHS starters stayed in the game until the outcome was clearly determined as the Lady Bulldogs rolled to an 80-55 victory.

All five GHS starters were in double-digits offensively, led by Brooklyn Woolsey with 19 points. Anna Trusty scored 18 points, as did Carley Sexton. Kylah Pearcy contributed 15 points and Izzy Smith scored 10 points, accounting for all 80 points scored by the Lady Bulldogs. They walked off the floor after the win knowing they had secured the league’s top seed in the playoffs and at least a share of the conference title.

Alma

Greenwood made it official last week with wins over Alma and Greenbrier to close the conference season with a 13-1 record, with Russellville (12-2) in second place and Mountain Home (11-3) third. The Lady Bulldogs left nothing to chance on the road against the Lady Airedales last Tuesday, jumping out to a 33-7 lead after one period on the strength of a 13-0 scoring run.

That onslaught continued early in the second quarter and Greenwood led 42-7 before the home team finally scored a bucket to break the GHS run. Before halftime, Coach Reeves began to substitute for his starting five and the visitors walked off the floor to the locker room for halftime with a 49-21 advantage on the scoreboard.

The starters returned to action for Greenwood to begin the second half and went up 61-32 before Coach Reeves called them back to the bench, a job well done. A Pate Jones layup accounted for the final GHS basket of the third quarter with the visitors up by 30 points, 74-34. With the mercy rule in place, the fourth quarter flew by very quickly for the 81-44 GHS victory.

Anna Trusty was the team’s leading scorer with 19 points, adding six steals, five assists, and four rebounds. Brookly Woolsey was second in scoring with 18 points on a trio of three-points. She also had seven steals and two assists. Kylah Pearcy had 13 points with six assists, four steals, and two boards. Izzy Smith scored nine points and had nine assists while Carley Sexton contributed seven points. Pate Jones had six points, three assists, and two steals. Jenna Honkala added four points, Ashlin Rose added three points, and Piper Pitts two points.

Greenbrier

Last Friday’s game was a special one for Greenwood’s Anna Trusty and her teammates. Not only did they close out their regular season with a tenth consecutive conference win, but the senior became the school’s all-time scoring leader with a spectacular performance, nearly pulling off a triple-double in her final appearance at H.B. Stewart Arena. But things didn’t start out well for the hometown ladies, who were perhaps a little too focused on Trusty’s pursuit of the record. Greenbrier jumped out to an 11-3 lead and the shots just weren’t falling for Greenwood.

But Trusty did score her team’s first points after missing her first three shots. Her corner three-pointer put Greenwood up temporarily, 3-2, before the Lady Panthers scored the next eight points. But the GHS hustle and pressure defense was relentless as the home team continued to make steals and create turnovers, even if a lot of their shots weren’t falling. Trusty’s putback bucket after an offensive rebound made it 11-8 and surpassed former GHS scoring leader Kinley Fisher. But Trusty was just getting started as she ended the night with 31 points, unofficially.

By the end of the first quarter the GHS defense had worn down the Lady Panthers and Greenwood had taken the lead, 19-16. The home team increased its advantage to 26-17 to start the second period before the visitors rallied with a 5-0 run. But a Kylah Pearcy steal and layup made it 29-22 and started an explosion of Greenwood points. Back-to-back baskets by Trusty was followed by a Carley Sexton three-pointer, and the rout was on. Greenwood led 45-27 at the half.

The Lady Bulldogs then scored the first 12 points of the third quarter for a 57-27 lead. They continued their offensive barrage to the end of the period and led 71-33 after 24 minutes. Coach Reeves began making substitutions in the fourth quarter and sophomore Journey Clements hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make the final score 85-39.

Unofficially, Anna Trusty scored 31 points to go along with 11 rebounds, nine steals, and four assists. The senior was honored at center court after the game. Coach Reeves presented her with a special commemorative ball for her achievement and she received a nice ovation from the fans. She started the game trailing Kinley Fisher by four points, 1825 to 1821, and finished her night with 1852 points. Should the Lady Bulldogs make a deep run in the playoffs as expected, Trusty will likely finish her prep career with over 1900 points. Sophomore Kylah Pearcy also had a big game against Greenbrier with 19 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double. Junior point guard Izzy Smith and senior Carley Sexton scored 10 points each.

Immediately after Trusty was recognized, members of the 2023 Bulldogs football team received their state championship rings. So far this school year, Greenwood High School has earned three state titles in girls’ cross country, football, and cheer. The girls’ basketball team wants to make it four championships in a couple weeks at Hot Springs.

The Lady Bulldogs will face the Lady Yellowjackets of Sheridan on Tuesday in Searcy at 4 p.m. Sheridan is the #4 seed from the 5A South. Should they win, the Greenwood girls will then play the winner of the Searcy-Beebe contest on Friday at 1 p.m. The semifinals will be held Saturday at 12 noon. The state championship game will be played in Hot Springs at Bank Ozark Arena on Friday, March 8th.

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Coach Reeves offered a few words about his team last week from his office. “They responded well after we got beat at Mountain Home,” he began. “I didn’t think I did a very good job of coaching during that game. There were a lot of adjustments I should have made. But really, [the loss] helped in the long run to show me that I needed to do some different things to help our players to improve.”

Asked about the hallmark of all his teams throughout his incredible career – relentless defense – Reeves said, “Players love offense and fans come to watch offense, but it does take defense and hustle and our kids do a good job of that. They know that if they play defense and rebound and get after it, that leads to more offense. They do a great job of taking care of the ball and a great job of sharing the ball and getting it to whoever is open and hitting [shots],” he continued. “We just have good team chemistry of being able to share the ball and score.”

Asked about the 16-team state tournament qualifiers, the GHS head coach said, “I know there are six or seven teams that could win it, but it doesn’t always work out that way,” hinting at potential upsets next week. Reeves also said he doesn’t spend time worrying about the bracket, because no one can predict what’s going to happen and every opponent is a threat.

“When we go to the state tournament, we want to play our best and win it,” continued Reeves. “The goal is to get to Hot Springs and win, and we’ve got to beat them all (or at least four teams) to get that done. When you get there, you’ve got to play well and take care of business, and I think everything is going great right now. Our rotation of players and playing more kids in different spots, I think we’re where we need to be at this time.”

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