PHOTO BY BRIAN D. SANDERFORD
Greenwood’s Lundon Williams, left, scores as Conway’s Jordan Danberry defends on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at H.B. Stewart Bulldog Arena in Greenwood.
Greenwood and Conway are definitely ready for their respective state tournaments next week. Friday, they put on a show worthy of a state tournament.
Conway jumped to a big lead and then held off the Lady Bulldogs’ dizzying rally in a 77-72 win in the 7A/6A-Central finale.
Conway (23-5, 11-3), ranked No. 4 by FearlessFriday.com, will be the fourth seed in the 7A State Tournament, which it hosts next week.
Greenwood (19-6, 10-4), ranked No. 2 by the same website, will be the top seed in the 6A State Tournament in Jonesboro.
“It was a great game,” Conway head coach Ashley Nance said. “Greenwood is one of the top teams in the state, if not the top team in the state. We’ve been a little bit of an underdog in the conference. We don’t play a senior, both of them are out with injuries. We talked about now toward the end of the season that they’re not young anymore and it’s our time.”
Conway still needed important points in the power ratings while Greenwood already had their top seed sewed up.
“That whole thing is crazy,” Nance said. “You can drive yourself nuts trying to figure that out. We probably have power ranking anxiety. You obviously have to look at that, but we just talked about winning tonight and we’d be exactly where we wanted to be.”
The Lady Wampus Cats never trailed and led 8-1 on the way to a 23-14 lead after the first quarter.
Conway scored the final nine points of the first quarter to crack a 14-14 tie and then scored the first eight points of the second quarter to build a 31-14 lead. Conway increased its lead to 35-17 before Greenwood starting chipping away.
“Conway played unbelievable,” Greenwood head coach Clay Reeves said. “That’s the best I’ve seen them play. They hit shots and just played unbelievable. I think the first half we took a combined quarter off, not at one time but a little bit of the first quarter and a little bit of the second quarter and let them get a lead on us.”
Megan Hartness started a 9-0 run to end the first half with a 3-pointer with 2:31 left. She added a pair of buckets, and Sarah Elkins converted a fast-break layup off a dish from Lundon Williams.
Three-pointers by Alexis Tolefree and Jordan Danberry spurred Conway to a 49-35 lead with 2:52 left in the third quarter, but Greenwood closed within 12 at 55-43 at the end of the quarter.
Greenwood had two 7-0 runs, a 6-0 run and scored 29 points in the final quarter but could never wrangle the lead away from the Lady Cats.
Haleigh Henson capped Greenwood’s second 7-0 run with a fast-break layup to cut Conway’s lead to 61-59 with 3:31 left.
Conway increased its lead back to 69-61, but Henson’s 3 and a three-point play by Hartness had Greenwood within two at 69-67 with 1:00 left.
Williams scored on a putback with 21 seconds left to keep Greenwood within three at 75-72, but Conway held on.
“My kids showed me they’re not going to quit,” Reeves said. “They’re going to keep trying to come back and trying to find a way to win. We played one of the best 7A teams in the state and showed a lot of guts and heart. This is exactly what I wanted to see before we go to the state tournament.”
Tolefree and Danberry each had 20 points.
Hartness led Greenwood with 21 points. Williams added 16, and Henson 13.
Conway 64, Greenwood 49
BOYS – Greenwood led at the halfway point, but Conway exploded for 23 points in the third quarter and 22 more in the last quarter.
Greenwood (6-18, 2-12) led 15-9 after a quarter behind Evan Lensing’s 11 points, and led 31-19 at the half.
Conway went on a 10-2 run to open the third quarter to creep within, 33-29, and then scored 11 straight points before settling for a 42-38 lead after the quarter.
Conway (15-9, 7-7) was led by Jalen Jones, who scored 13 of his 20 points in the pivotal third quarter.
Lensing finished with 21 points, including 17 in the first half, for Greenwood.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
CONWAY 77, GREENWOOD 72
Conway 23 12 20 22 — 77
Greenwood 14 12 17 29 — 72
Conway (23-5, 11-3): Tolefree 20, Danberry 20, Estes 14, Williard 12, Rogers 9, Pack 2.
Greenwood (19-6, 10-4): Hartness 21, Williams 16, H.Henson 13, Crase 8, Branum 8, Elkins 6.
CONWAY 64, GREENWOOD 49
Conway 9 10 23 22 — 64
Greenwood 15 16 7 11 — 49
Conway (15-9, 7-7): Jones 20, Burton 18, Walder 11, Johnson 7, Nekonchuk 3, Ellis 2, Smith 2, Criswell 1.
Greenwood (6-18, 2-12): Lensing 21, Padilla 10, Ludwig 6, Morgan 5, Hernandez 3, Jones 2, Hollingsaid 2.