BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
As one of the state’s most successful high school girls basketball coaches, Greenwood’s Clay Reeves is always excited about the arrival of the state tournament.
This season is no different as Reeves looks for his 10th title overall and his seventh in 20 years at the helm of the Lady Bulldogs.
Defending state and 5A West conference champ Greenwood (27-2, 14-0) battles 5A East fourth seed Nettleton Wednesday at 1 p.m. as its begins action in the Class 5A State Tournament in Pine Bluff.
“We’ve played well, we’ve kept improving and we keep working on things that we continually need to get better on,” Reeves said. “We see by continually playing tough teams along the way that just show us things we have got to keep getting better at.
“This team has formed its identity. They kind of understand what each other needs to do to help their teammates. The chemistry has gotten real well, which is what you have to do every year when you start with a new team.
“They have developed and come together great.”
The Lady Bulldogs won their conference games by an average of 40 points, made even more incredible when you throw in a 60-58 win at Siloam Springs in their only close league contest.
They are led junior guard Anna Trusty, who has over 1,200 career points, and senior guard Maddie Cartwright, who has surpassed the 1,500-point mark.
“Trusty is about a 6-1 guard and that gives her a lot of advantages of being a guard,” Reeves said. “She is tall, shoots great from the outside and handles the ball good, makes great passes. And then Maddie Cartwright is a 5-11 guard. I have never had two guards with that height that are able to handle the ball, shoot and play like point guards.”
That height at guard is a big advantage for Greenwood according to Reeves, who has won over 400 games at Greenwood and is nearing 800 career victories.
“They do a great job of scoring and getting the ball to our other players,” Reeves said. “ We have got some great shooters on our team. Cartwright and Trusty do a lot of driving and creating things at the basket. And a lot of times when people focus on them taking it to the basket, that are able to kick it out and we have some great shooters that are ready.
“So it is a really good balance for us Anna Rankin, when people miss, she goes and gets the rebound and just starts our offense all over again.”
Greenwood returned three starters and several players who were significant contributors off last season’s title squad.
“We lost two starters – Megan Gray is playing at Hendrix and Abby Summitt is playing at UA-Fort Smith,” Reeves said. “But we always play a lot of players to give them a lot of experience for the current year and also to help develop our players for the next season. So coming back was a lot of experience from the previous year.
“We are not a tall team,” Reeves said. “I have two really tall guards, but we are not very tall inside. But our kids compete hard, they play hard, they do all the little things right to help make up for the difference in height.”
Reeves, whose team will take on the Little Rock Parkview-El Dorado victor Friday if it wins, won three state championships in 12 seasons at Greenland before taking over at Greenwood.
“It’s been great,” Reeves said. “We were blessed that kids at both places grow up playing basketball and their parents support them, they have great travel coaches and then the junior high coaches help us a lot and then we get them and just try to build on what they have learned.”
Photo courtesy of Greenwood Athletics