By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
With a state championship comes a target on your back.
The Greenwood Blue Jays welcome that challenge.
Greenwood passed one of its biggest early season tests Tuesday night in impressive fashion.
The Blue Jays used a dominant third quarter to pull away from Class 4 state-ranked Logan-Rogersville and win going away, 61-48.
Junior guard Aminu Mohammed had a game-high 31 points and 18 rebounds, while sophomore guard Tommy Pinegar hit a 3-pointer in each quarter and finished with 12 points.
Greenwood, which won the Pierce City Tournament last week, improved to 4-0 overall.
The Blue Jays entered this season as defending state champs and the No. 1-ranked team in the MBCA/MOSports.com Class 2 preseason poll.
“We understand we’re going to get every team’s best shot,” said Greenwood coach Darren Taylor.
Up by two at halftime, Greenwood took control in the first minute of the third quarter.
Mohammed scored twice on powerful drives to the basket. He then fed freshman Kaden Stuckey for a basket that gave Greenwood its biggest lead, 33-25, up to that point.
Despite two timeouts from Logan-Rogersville, Greenwood struck the knockout blow over the next few minutes. Mohammed followed a step-back 3-pointer with a three-point play that put Greenwood ahead for good at 45-29.
“We executed much better in the second half,” Taylor said. “I was disappointed with what we tried to do in the first half. We didn’t really make any adjustments; we just started running the stuff correctly that we were supposed to run in the first half.”
Thanks to improved ball movement and a pesky zone defense, Greenwood outscored Logan-Rogersville 15-4 in the decisive third quarter.
“Our defense was the key in the second half. Then, we started executing more on offense,” Pinegar said. “But really, the defense was the biggest key.”
Logan-Rogersville, ranked No. 5 in the Class 4 preseason poll, was out for revenge and had a fired-up home crowd on its side.
Last season, Greenwood knocked off the Wildcats 70-68 at home leading up to the Blue and Gold Tournament.
“Whenever you beat a team one year, they’re always going to come back and want to beat you bad,” Pinegar said. “Especially (Logan-Rogersville). That’s a really good team.”
Said Taylor: “We knew it’d be extremely tough to come into this environment. I really thought their fans did an excellent job in the first half of taking us out of some stuff we were wanting to do. I was having problems communicating with my team.”
Josh Linehan scored a team-high 19 for Logan-Rogersville, which led 15-11 after the first quarter. The Wildcats fell to 1-4 overall amid a loaded early-season schedule that’s included games against Class 5 schools Parkview, Republic and Ozark.
Tuesday night’s game was also a reunion for the head coaches.
Logan-Rogersville’s head coach, John Schaefer, played for Taylor in high school when the two were at Hartville in the early 1990s.
“John’s teams are always so well prepared,” Taylor said. “I take no special pleasure in beating one of my friends.”
Logan-Rogersville returns to action next Tuesday night at home against Branson. Greenwood hosts Weaubleau for its home opener on Dec. 19.
Greenwood 61, Logan-Rogersville 49
Greenwood 11 16 15 19 — 61
LR 15 10 4 19 — 49
Greenwood – Aminu Mohammed 31, Tommy Pinegar 12, Kaden Stuckey 8, Nic Burri 6, Grant Harper 4
Logan-Rogersville – Josh Linehan 19, Zach Bergmann 14, Cade Blevins 4, Max Goff 3, Kanon Gipson 4, Jordan Williams 2, JJ O’Neal 2