The Greenwood Lady Bulldogs are 10-3 on the season and will begin 5A West conference play Friday night on the road. They are coming off a loss at Fort Smith Northside last Saturday and will get a major test in their league opener at Little Rock Christian, the defending 5A state champions.
The Lady Warriors defeated Greenwood all three times they played last season. It’s also unknown if GHS Head Coach Clay Reeves will be with his team Friday after the death of his father earlier this week. Reeves missed the entire conference season last year with a health-related issue of his own.
This Greenwood team has been knocking at the door for the past two years, reaching the state finals two years ago and the semi-finals last year. It’s a junior dominated team with lots of talent and experience with two years remaining to win at least one championship, if not two. But it won’t be easy.
During the long holiday break, the Lady Bulldogs played four games, winning three of them over Jacksonville, Oxford (MS), and Farmington before last Saturday’s loss to the Lady Bears.
The Lady Bulldogs were on fire offensively against the visiting Lady Red Devils, scoring 23, 22, and 29 points, respectively, over the first three periods of play en route to a convincing 82-59 victory.
Greenwood buried 10 three-pointers in the game, including five by junior guard Kinley Fisher, who led all scorers with 24 points in the game.
The Lady Bulldogs led 23-14 after one period, 45-28 at the half, and 74-45 after three quarters before Coach Reeves pulled his starters and went to his bench exclusively.
Besides Fisher’s exemplary performance, fellow junior Ally Sockey and senior Jaelin Glass both scored 13 points and freshman Mady Cartwright added 11 points off the bench.
A week later and two days after Christmas, the GHS girls traveled to Morrilton to face a team from Oxford, Mississippi, somewhat splitting the distance between the two schools.
But despite playing on a neutral court, the Oxford girls were no match for Greenwood’s experienced lineup and aggressive style of play. The Lady Bulldogs pulled away early and won handily, 57-23.
Greenwood’s pressure defense held Oxford to single digit scoring in all four quarters and did not allow more than seven points in any period.
The Lady Bulldogs led 18-7, 36-12, and 53-17 by the start of the fourth quarter. Greenwood also got scoring contributions from numerous players, including Fisher (12 points), Glass (10), Maggie Rozell (7), Cartwright (7), and Shea Goodwin (6).
Last Friday’s non-conference tilt against the Lady Cardinals was an absolute shootout in the opening minutes. The home team led 24-23 over Greenwood after eight minutes in a blistering first period that featured a combined 47 points.
The Lady Cards also scored a very respectable 19 points in the second quarter, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the visiting Lady Bulldogs, who continued to pour it on, scoring 31 additional points leading into halftime.
Ahead 54-43 at the break, the GHS girls cooled off in the third period, but still led 68-58 heading into the final stanza. They won the fourth quarter by a margin of 20-14 and the game by a score of 88-72.
Ally Sockey scored 24 points to lead the team, while Kinley Fisher added 21. Junior Shea Goodwin also added 12 points, including a trio of three-pointers. Greenwood hit a total of nine long-distance bombs in the game.
Farmington closed to within three points in the second half, but Greenwood withstood the rally with tough defense and an offensive effort that featured six players scoring at least seven points each.
"We've got a bunch of kids who work hard and contribute in a lot of ways," said Coach Reeves after the win. "We usually play 10 or more, and all of them [bring] something good to the court whether it’s offense or defense."
Last Saturday’s game was a rematch between the Lady Bulldogs and Lady Grizzlies. The same two teams met in December in the Taco Bell Tournament of Champions, an 11-point victory for Greenwood.
Game two was all about redemption and revenge for the Lady Bears, a perennial state power in girls basketball and the defending 6A state champions. They played like it too.
The Northsiders led from start to finish to avenge their earlier loss, winning this time, 68-50.
The Lady Bears (11-3) put together a strong defensive showing in the first quarter against Greenwood, perhaps a little weary after scoring 88 points and beating Farmington the day before.
Northside scored the game’s first six points and led handily, 16-2, when the period ended. Greenwood rallied in the second stanza, scoring 27 points, but would never fully recover.
The Lady Grizzlies led 34-29 at the intermission, but stretched that lead to nine points (49-40) after three periods. The home team then closed out the win in the fourth quarter, outscoring Greenwood 19-10.
For the Lady Bulldogs, Kinley Fisher scored 19 points, followed by Jaelin Glass (11), Ally Sockey (5), Shea Goodwin (5), and Mady Cartwright (4).
After Friday’s league opener at Little Rock Christian, the GHS girls will host Russellville next Tuesday at H.B. Stewart Arena, then travel to Vilonia next Friday.