The Greenwood Lady Bulldogs have been through a lot recently and have used it for motivation.
Last year, they played the entire conference schedule and state tournament without veteran head coach Clay Reeves, who took a medical leave of absence in early December. Boys’ assistant coach Matt Bryant took over the team and guided them to the semifinals, where they lost to eventual state champion Little Rock Christian.
Two seasons ago, the Lady Bulldogs lost to Jonesboro in the Class 6A state championship game, falling behind early and losing, 57-44.
Three seasons ago, Greenwood lost to West Memphis in the first round, 52-46.
Seniors Harley Terry and Jaelin Glass have been there throughout that time, being called up as freshmen.
It’s all served as motivation to stand at center court as state champions.
“I think most of it is Coach Reeves being back with us,” Terry said. “Going to the semifinals under Coach Bryant was unbelievable but having Coach Reeves back has been a big motivator for us. Our sophomore year, we made it to the finals and lost. Our freshman year, we weren’t the expected team to get there, but we also know that we haven’t been there. We’re all determined that we deserve a ring.”
Terry was usually one of the first ones off the bench as a freshman, finishing third on the team in rebounding, and her game has progressed each season.
“To me, it’s how much she has improved every year since she was a freshman,” Reeves said. “From the second round of conference on, she’s really came on with her scoring and her rebounding whether it’s in practice or games. Whether it’s being a senior and knowing that it’s winding down, she’s really stepped it up a notch. It’s especially noticeable to me.”
Greenwood takes on Jonesboro in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament at Russellville on Thursday.
The Lady Bulldogs finished second in the 5A-West and have been one of the top contenders for the state title all season
Like when Terry and Glass were freshmen three years ago, this year, the Lady Bulldogs have again meshed freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors together.
“For us in general, we know what jobs we need to take of,” Terry said. “We all flow together pretty well.”
Reeves’ relentless drive for teamwork has been evident with the Lady Bulldogs.
“He does a good job of that, but in the locker room, we’ll have team meetings,” Terry said. “We have to do this, we have to do that. If we want to win a state championship, we have to play together like we know how to play.”
The Lady Bulldogs’ style of play this season has been heavily reliant on perimeter shooting or driving to the basket. Neither of those traits is a strength of Terry, more of a traditional post player.
“I know we’re a guard-playing team,” Terry said. “I have to accept that. When I get in there, I have to make the most of it. If we’re scoring and we’re winning, I don’t care. It’s a team sport. The five that’s in there, I want the best for them.”
Terry has started the last two seasons, but the Lady Bulldogs routinely play 11 players each night.
“Whether it’s practice or in games, she’s always pleasant and encouraging to our players,” Reeves said. “If she plays half the game, she’s going to be encouraging who’s out there on our team. If she’s out there, she’s going to be positive and encouraging to those other players that are out there. She’s always done what’s best for the team.”
Terry knows, too, her actions and attitude are also under the microscope as the daughter of Tim Terry, a Greenwood native and a city councilman as well as popular radio voice for the Greenwood athletic teams. All that’s done, though, is fuel the fire of wanting to add to the long athletic success of the town.
“Especially the 2010 state championship team, I remember going and getting all the girls’ autographs when they came to arena after they won,” Terry said. “I’m just a home-town girl. I want the best for Greenwood. I want this senior class to go out strong.”
Terry, Glass, Angela Price, Maggie Rozell, and Stephanie Shay are seniors that will suit up for the Lady Bulldogs for the final time over the next nine days.
“This senior class has done a great job,” Reeves said. “Every year, we have a lot of each group. That chemistry has always came together. Everybody does what they need to do for our team to be successful. It takes all of the classes for our team to be successful, and our senior class has done an exception job of always putting our team first.”