The last time the Greenwood High School girls’ basketball team lost a Region I-4A contest was January of 2008, a 57-54 loss to Laurens. That is, until midway through the 2012-2013 season, when the J.L. Mann Patriots handed Greenwood their first region loss in over four years, a 59-42 stunner in Greenville.
Following that loss, the Lady Eagles have rattled off five straight wins, setting up a rematch with the Patriots Tuesday night in Greenwood. If they were to win,Greenwood would move into a tie for first place with the Patriots.
“I think it was a good experience for us,” senior guard Yonna Jones said. “We came out thinking we could push teams over, and it showed us that we can be beaten at any moment.”
A major point of emphasis leading up to the much anticipated rematch is containing Patriots’ guard Angel McGowan, who exploded for 29 points against the Lady Eagles in their first contest.
“I’ve got to play better defense against her,” Jones said. “Whoever is guarding her has to do a better job containing her.”
Senior center Da’Sherel Day has been a starter on the varsity squad since her freshman year, and explained that the loss served as an eye opener for many on the team, resulting in a new found work ethic for the 18-1 squad.
“It was a new experience for me,” Day said. “Ever since I’ve been here, we haven’t lost a region game until then. We’ve all started doing what we’re supposed to do, working harder in practice and getting better everyday.”
Normally a guard-oriented offense, Greenwood Head Coach Susan Thompson explained that she and her coaching staff have been working hard to build more consistent post play.
“We’ve been trying to get our posts to realize they can’t just tiptoe around in the paint,” Thompson said. “We are trying to get them to understand that sometimes they have to get rough down there.”
A calling card for previous Thompson-led teams has been their ability to seize momentum in the early portion of games, something that the Patriots were able to do in the first meeting.
“I think they did to us what we were used to doing to everyone else, gave us a taste of what we usually do,” Jones said. “It helped us work harder and now we got another shot at them (Tuesday).”
If the Patriots were to win Tuesday night, they would essentially clinch the Region I-4A title. However, if the Lady Eagles win, and both teams win the remaining two games on their schedule after Tuesday night, it would force a one game playoff, with the region title on the line. According to Thompson, the loss has revealed the true character of her team. Tip-off is set for 6:00 p.m. at Greenwood High School.
“I think it shows the type of girls we have on this team,” Thompson said. “When we lost, they could have very easily gotten down on themselves. But they decided to keep working hard, keep getting better. They have been watching a lot of film, seeing the things they did and didn’t do right. They looked at it and said, ‘We’re going to get them another time, and we’re going to do what it takes to get them the next time.’”