As usual, the Greenwood Lady Bulldogs are off to another great start, improving to 13-2 overall after earning four more victories last week in tournament play at Springfield, Missouri. The event featured 32 schools divided into two 16-team brackets played over four days starting on December 27th. The GHS girls defeated four teams from the Show Me state to win their division as they look ahead to the start of 5A West conference play this coming Friday at home against Russellville.
The irony of the Lady Bulldogs’ first round game was obvious. Their opponents were the Lady Blue Jays of Greenwood, Missouri. But the similarities ended with the shared names of their sponsoring schools as the GHS girls rolled to a lopsided 75-23 victory to jumpstart their run through the tournament. Head Coach Clay Reeves and assistant coach Ryan Lensing were able to clear their bench and play everyone in the second half.
The poor Lady Blue Jays were blindsided in the first period, unable to handle the Lady Bulldogs’ pressure defense. The girls from Missouri failed to score a single point over the first eight minutes while the GHS ladies netted 28 points. The second quarter was closer to normal, but the Arkansas girls were still able to win the period, 25-10, for a 53-10 lead at the half.
Knowing that the game was secure, Coach Reeves benched most of his starters and allowed his varsity backups and junior varsity players to play in the second half. The Lady Bulldogs won the third quarter, 14-10, and the fourth period, 8-3, for the 52-point victory. As a result, a host of players were able to contribute offensively to the win.
Junior Anna Trusty led the way with 14 points and senior Mady Cartwright had 11 points. Both players scored all their points in the first half and saw little or no action in the second half. But freshman guard Kylah Pearcy also chipped in with 12 points. Fellow ninth grader Izzy Smith added eight points along with senior Ella Williams. Another freshman, Liddie-Ann Adams, also scored six points.
Greenwood’s next three games were much more competitive, starting with game two against Ozark, Missouri, a neighboring town outside Springfield. The Lady Tigers held their own through the first eight minutes and trailed by only four points when the quarter ended, 18-14. But Greenwood was able to build on its lead before the intermission, 31-22.
The Lady Bulldogs continued to gradually increase their hold on the game in the second half, outscoring Ozark 13-12 in the third quarter and 18-13 in the fourth before concluding their efforts with a solid 62-47 victory. Greenwood had five players reach double figures in scoring, including Cartwright and Trusty with 12 points each, junior Brooklyn Woolsey with 11 points and junior Carley Sexton with 10 points. Kylah Pearcy also added eight points.
Rock Ridge, MO
Up next for the GHS girls were the Lady Bruins of Rock Ridge, Missouri. The Lady Bulldogs battled to an 11-all tie after one period, but slumped offensively in the second quarter, trailing 23-16 at the break. But Coach Reeves rallied his girls in the third stanza and they roared out of halftime with a 25-6 run to take charge of the game heading into he fourth quarter. Both teams coasted over the final eight minutes, with neither scoring in double digits. Greenwood won the contest, 50-34.
Three GHS players scored in double figures. They were Mady Cartwright with 14 points, Anna Trusty with 12 points, and Carley Sexton with 11 points. Izzy Smith also contributed with eight points. The victory set up the Lady Bulldogs to play for the championship of their half of the bracket the following day.
Greenwood concluded its play in Springfield against the Lady Eagles of Nixa, Missouri, famously the hometown of the popular fictional character Jason Bourne, a.k.a. David Webb. But the Lady Bulldogs took care of business in their final game, winning the first three periods and battling to a near draw in the fourth quarter of their 66-51 victory.
Greenwood led 11-9 after one period, 32-22 at the half, 54-38 after three quarters, and held on for the 15-point win in the fourth stanza. Anna Trusty shined offensively with 23 points, easily the best scoring performance of any GHS player in the tournament. Mady Cartwright also added 18 points, while Izzy Smith netted 10 points. Kylah Pearcy scored six points.
The GHS coach talked about their tournament experience and their preparations for the upcoming conference opener. Asked if his girls were able to do any outside activities during their trip, he said, “No. It was just basketball and out to eat. With the way our schedule worked that’s pretty [much] all the time we had.
“Coming back from the [holiday] break I thought we weren’t where we were before [Christmas],” said the coach. “Our first game wasn’t very tough, but our game against Ozark (MO) was. But I think each game we got a little better, getting back to [form]. We were playing a specific defense against Rock Ridge [in the first half], but we weren’t scoring very well and turned it over a few times, so we changed back to our normal defense [in the third quarter]. We weren’t familiar with their teams and players.”
Asked about the play of his freshman, particularly Kylah Pearcy and Izzy Smith, who have contributed offensively almost since the start of the season, Coach Reeves expressed his satisfaction with their efforts. “We’ve got a lot of returning players and new players, and [girls] are stepping up and doing more, so we are expanding their roles as they get better.”
As for the conference race ahead, Reeves said, “I told our players yesterday that we are okay right now. We’ve made progress and I see a lot of good things, but we’ve got a whole lot of room for improvement, and there are 14 conference games to get there. We’ve played half the season and we’re okay, but the second half of the season we want to get better and [become] great before we get to the end. That’s what our goal is, and we’ve got the players to do it. We’ll get a lot more done between now and the end of the season because of the Tuesday-Friday games. We can get on a regular routine. We’re good, and ready to go for Friday,” concluded the coach.