Against Lady Hornets, Greenwood shows why it may win a fourth straight State title

Photos by Kevin Nagle

Emily Ridgell goes up for a shot inside. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Emily Ridgell goes up for a shot inside. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

GREENWOOD — The three-time defending Class 6A State champion Greenwood Lady Bulldogs put on a clinic on how to execute the 1-3-1 half-court trap particularly in the first half of the 7A/6A-Central Conference season-opening game against the Bryant Lady Hornets on Friday night at H.B. Stewart Bulldog Arena.

The Lady Bulldogs, who came in with a 13-1 record, trapped at just the right time, stood solid in their traps without reaching in and slapping, then anticipated passes and tipping or stealing all too many for the Lady Hornets to deal with.

Though Bryant got better at handling it as the game went along, a 14-0 run in the first quarter by Greenwood created too big a hill for the Lady Hornets to climb.

Greenwood proved to be more than that, however. The Lady Bulldogs shot the eyes out of the baskets, going 6 of 15 from 3-point range and 17 of 30 from inside the arc and 19 of 25 at the free-throw line on the way to a 71-42 win.

Lauren Carroll (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Lauren Carroll (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

It was just the second double-digit deficit for the Lady Hornets this season and, the other, a 15-point loss to unbeaten Riverview in the championship game of a holiday tournament in Beebe, was much closer until right at the end.

“They’re just super talented,” said Bryant coach Brad Matthews. “They’ve been beating everybody by 20, 30 points. When you play a team like this, they’re going to show you mistakes. It’ll be good to go back and watch the film. We can learn from it.”

Bryant actually had a 6-4 lead on baskets by Maddie Baxter and Raija Todd plus two free throws by Jakeria Otey. And they had a chance to extend the margin but that opportunity was negated by a turnover.

Two free throws by Brittany Branum started Greenwood’s surge. It was 18-6 before the Lady Hornets scored again on a pair of free throws by Cayla McDowell.

It was 22-9 at the end of the period. The Lady Hornets had suffered seven turnovers in the quarter. They would finish with 23 in the game.

“We just had way too many turnovers,” acknowledged Matthews. “They’re big and really aggressive in (the trap). We made some mistakes just because we hadn’t seen it before. Then we made some other mistakes just due to lack of execution. When you turn it over 15, 16 times in the first half, at any level, you’re going to be behind and that was definitely the case the first half.”

Annie Patton (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Annie Patton (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

It was 39-13 at the half. The Lady Bulldogs were 4 of 8 from 3-point range and 11-13 at the charity stripe. Defensively, they not only forced all the turnovers they frustrated the Lady Hornets into a 3 of 11 half from the field.

Point guard Megan Hartness led Greenwood with 25 points including a three-point play with 1:08 left in the game that gave her team a 68-40 lead.

Bryant came out in the second half and put together its own push, whittling the 26-point deficit down to 15 at one point.

Otey, who finished with 14 points, 12 in the second half, opened the third quarter with a driving jumper. Lauren Carroll canned a pair of free throws.

Branum countered with a pair from the line but, at the other end, Todd fed Emily Ridgell for a layup. Branum hit a free throw but Todd drilled a pull-up jumper and, after one of Greenwood’s 11 turnovers, Carroll grabbed an offensive rebound, scored and was fouled.

She made it 42-24 but Greenwood answered with a run to build the lead back to 48-26. But Otey drained a trey then hit a jumper in the lane to make it a 17-point game going into the fourth quarter.

Early in the final stanza, Carroll made a steal and turned it into points with two at the free-throw line, trimming the margin to 15. Sarah Elkins who finished with 10 points, drove for a bucket but Otey scored off a drive, making it 50-35 with 5:34 left.

But Greenwood finished with a flurry. The final was the largest difference of the game.

“I was proud of our kids,” Matthews stated. “They came out in the third quarter and really executed better. I thought we adapted to their trap. And it wasn’t like they pulled off. I thought we did better but then started turning it over again there at the end.

“You’ve got to take better care of the ball,” he asserted. “With that, then you get more shots, you keep them out of transition and all the other things that come with that. But when you turn it over, bad things are going to happen and bad things happened tonight.”

The Lady Hornets, now 8-6 overall and 0-1 in conference play, host Mount St. Mary Academy on Tuesday in another league contest.

LADY BULLDOGS 71, LADY HORNETS 42

Score by quarters

BRYANT       9          4          18       11 — 42

Greenwood   22       17       9          23 — 71

LADY HORNETS (8-6, 0-1) 42

Otey 5-12 2-4 14, Carroll 2-7 7-10 11, Baxter 1-3 0-0 2, Todd 3-5 0-2 6, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Ridgell 1-6 3-5 5, McDowell 0-0 2-2 2, Martin 0-1 0-0 0, Rogers 0-0 0-0 0, Patton 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 13-35 (37%) 14-23 (61%) 42.

LADY BULLDOGS (14-1, 1-0) 71

Clements 0-1 0-0 0, Branum 3-6 7-9 14, Crase 1-4 2-2 4, Hartness 8-15 8-10 25, Elkins 5-10 0-0 10, Goodner 2-4 2-2 8, Henson 0-1 0-2 0, Jewell 4-4 0-0 10, Young 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-45 (51%) 19-25 (76%) 71.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-6 (Otey 2-4, Baxter 0-2), Greenwood 6-15 (Goodner 2-4, Jewell 2-2, Branum 1-4, Hartness 1-3, Elkins 0-1, Henson 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 23, Greenwood 11. Rebounds: Bryant 11-20 31 (Carroll 5-3 8, Ridgell 4-3 7, Otey 0-7 7, Baxter 0-2 2, Todd 0-1 1, McDowell 0-1 1, Martin 0-1 1, team 2-1 3), Greenwood 11-20 31 (Branum 2-5 7, Elkins 2-1 3, Clements 0-2 2, Hartness 0-1 1, team 0-6 6). Team fouls: Bryant 21, Greenwood 20. Fouled out: Bryant, Baxter, Todd.

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