The Greenwood varsity girls’ basketball team improved its overall record to 12-4 last Friday with an impressive league win at Vilonia. The Lady Bulldogs are now 2-1 in 5A West conference play that also includes a loss at Little Rock Christian and a win over Russellville.
The GHS girls hosted league foe Siloam Springs this past Tuesday night at H.B. Stewart Arena, but results were unavailable at press time. They travel to Beebe on Friday.
Greenwood opened conference play on January 10th at Little Rock Christian, the defending 5A state champions, then hosted Russellville last Tuesday before going to Vilonia this past Friday.
Expected to compete for the conference title, the Lady Bulldogs now have several winnable games ahead of them against Siloam Springs, Beebe, Greenbrier, and Alma before the schedule turns over again.
Little Rock Christian comes to Greenwood on February 2nd, followed by Vilonia on Valentine’s Day. Both schools are highly ranked in Class 5A and stand between the Lady Bulldogs and a conference championship.
The Lady Eagles entered last Friday’s contest riding a 14-game winning streak after losing their season opener to Class 6A Fayetteville. Despite their loss to Greenwood, the Vilonia girls remain highly ranked.
The first half last Friday reflected the status of both teams as state title contenders. The two squads slugged it out offensively over the first two periods before Greenwood pulled away in the second half for the 67-52 victory.
Senior Jaelin Glass and junior Kinley Fisher were the shot makers for Greenwood, especially in the first half when Glass hit four three-pointers, accounting for more than half of her 21 points in the game.
But it was Fisher who really shined, pumping in 31 points, almost all of which came from inside the three-point arc or from the free throw line.
During the game the third-year letterman surpassed the 1,000-point mark in her career, putting her among the best scorers in school history midway through her junior season.
Vilonia led 17-16 after eight minutes, but trailed Greenwood at the half, 36-34. The Lady Bulldogs added to their lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Eagles 14-11.
Leading 50-45 after three periods, Greenwood dominated the final stanza, 17-7, to pull away for the 15-point win. Head Coach Clay Reeves talked about the Greenwood victory.
“I think early in the game [Vilonia] executed pretty [well] and it took us a little while to get going and see what they were going to do. Our kids did a good job adjusting and guarding their post [player] a little better.
“Offensively, we had different players step up at different times, which is one of the strengths of our team. In the second half, once we got the lead, we let our players spread out and force them to play us more one-on-one. The second half we didn’t play quite as up-tempo as we usually do offensively.”
Reeves also talked about his number one offensive player, Kinley Fisher, and her 31 points.
“It was a pretty quiet [performance],” he said. “Normally she hits a lot of threes. She hit a couple and they tried to get out on her, but she does a great job driving also, so she got a lot of [points] going to the basket.
“She’s always been a good shooter,” added the coach. “But when we started school in the fall, I noticed a big difference in her. She was really getting her shot up and scoring at a high percentage. She’s always had that scorer’s mentality, and I know she has confidence, but she just keeps getting better.”
As for his team’s 2-1 start in league play, Reeves was both pleased and practical in his response.
“I felt like we would split with Little Rock Christian and Vilonia,” he said. “We try to win every game, but getting a split out of the two toughest road games was good for us. They’re coming back to our place [later].
Last Tuesday (Jan. 14) the Lady Bulldogs scored 44 points in the first half on their way to a 76-29 mercy rule win over the Russellville Lady Cyclones at Greenwood’s H.B. Stewart Arena.
Persistent defensive pressure by the GHS girls led to numerous Russellville turnovers and easy Greenwood baskets over the first three quarters. Greenwood led 19-11 after one period and 44-22 at the half.
“That’s what we try to work on the most,” said Coach Reeves after the game. “We play a lot of kids and have good depth, so we try to make it an up-tempo game with our defense. We get a lot of offense out of our defense.”
Greenwood forced 11 turnovers in the opening stanza and nine more in the second quarter. Six Russellville turnovers in the third quarter and a 64-27 GHS lead invoked the Sportsmanship Rule for the final eight minutes.
“Every night different people lead us in different categories,” Reeves said. “That’s the strength of our team. We have the numbers, and everybody can [contribute] something.”
For Greenwood, Fisher led in scoring with 19 points, followed by Glass with nine. Ally Sockey and Shea Goodwin finished with eight points each.
Scoring six points each were Harley Terry, Megan Gray, and Olivia Walker. Both of Walker’s baskets were three-pointers. Altogether, a dozen players scored points for the Lady Bulldogs.
With the recent death of his father, Coach Reeves was not able to be with his team in their conference opener at Little Rock Christian Academy on January 10th.
Assistant coach Ryan Lensing, in his second year with the program, took the helm in Reeves’ absence and acquitted himself nicely.
“I wasn’t too nervous about it,” said Lensing. “I’ve watched [Coach Reeves] for the last year and a half, so I’m accustomed to it. I was just ready to go out there and get it done.”
After falling behind 8-1 to start the game, Greenwood held a one-point lead (19-18) after eight minutes, mostly on the strength of a 10-1 scoring run midway through the first period. The Lady Bulldogs trailed 35-33 at the half.
The game remained close throughout the second half, with the home team continuing to hold a slight lead. The Lady Warriors led 62-56 with 3:47 remaining when Greenwood’s Shea Goodwin hit an 8-footer from the lane to cut the margin to four points with 2:43 left to play.
The Warriors failed to score on their next three possessions, but the Lady Bulldogs were unable to take advantage. With a chance to pull within one score, a 5-foot shot by Greenwood’s Haven Clements rimmed out with 52 seconds showing on the clock.
Greenwood later cut the lead to three points, 65-62, with 13 seconds remaining, but the Lady Warriors held on to the lead by making their charity shots. LRC hit 8-of-11 free throws in the fourth quarter.
"If she makes it, we're not pressing as hard," Lensing said of Clements’ short jumper in the final minute. "We're just trying to make them turn it over, and we wouldn't have had to foul. But they were in the bonus, and that makes it tough. They stepped up and made their free throws, and that was the difference in the game."
Three Lady Bulldogs finished in double figures offensively. Kinley Fisher scored 17 points to lead Greenwood, while Clements added 12 and junior guard Ally Sockey had 10 points.