By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
For most of the first quarter the Greenwood boys trailed Purdy in a Class 2 sectional Wednesday night.
For most of the fourth the Blue Jays benefited from a running clock.
In a game that finished much differently than it started, Greenwood rolled to a 79-50 victory at Carthage High School and the defending state champs advanced to a quarterfinal matchup against Hartville on Saturday.
So how’d the Blue Jays go from trailing by as many as eight points in the first quarter to leading by as many as 36 in the fourth?
“I’m not exactly sure to be honest,” Greenwood coach Darren Taylor said. “I thought we turned the energy up a little bit after we got down 18-11. After we got down I think we realized they were here to play and they were well prepared and knew what we were going to do. I think we got a little more energy.”
Purdy was red hot at the start. The Eagles jumped out to a 12-4 lead with junior Osiel Aldava scoring six early points and juniors Clay Henderson and Zackary Brewer knocking down three pointers.
The Eagles led 18-11 with 2:43 left in the first after senior Scotty Henry scored. And then the 7-foot big man blocked a shot at the other end.
But Purdy didn’t score on its next seven possessions. The Blue Jays closed the first quarter on an 8-0 run and turned that into a bigger 21-2 run capped by an Aminu Mohammed dunk with 3:24 left in the half that made it 32-20.
“We started shooting the ball a little better,” Taylor said. “When you start scoring it helps your defense I think. Energy feeds off of it.”
Still, Purdy coach Ryan Stokes felt good about a 36-26 halftime deficit. The third quarter got off to a disastrous start, though – the Eagles came up empty on their first five possessions and Greenwood scored 10-unanswered points.
“You put so much focus on something and then when it doesn’t go the way you do it’s hard to keep those hopes up,” Stokes said. “I felt we were in a great spot at halftime. We’ve done that all year. We’ve just had droughts but I was proud of them. We worked hard we just missed out on the little things. Those fundamentals pay off.”
“We didn’t block out,” he said. “I think we forced quite a few misses but they got second and third and fourth chances. They’re so good. We were going to have to be great and we were going to have to hope they were average tonight or off. We believed we could win we just didn’t do the little things right.”
By the end of the third quarter it was a 62-35 game and then the Blue Jays scored the first eight points of the fourth and added to the highlight reel when Mohammed assisted on a Tommy Pinegar goal with a behind-the-back pass in the paint.
Mohammed, a junior, later added a monstrous one-handed dunk that gave Greenwood its biggest lead of the night, 74-36. He finished the game with a team-high 20 points. Freshman Kaden Stuckey added 14, Pinegar, a sophomore, scored 13 and junior Grant Harper had 12.
“I was pleased with our overall team effort,” Taylor said. “We had four in double figures and two more with nine and if we can get that kind of a balanced scoring it really makes us dangerous.”
Aldava led Purdy with 27 points and Henry added 10. The Eagles finish with a 15-13 record.
Greenwood, now 26-3 and winners of 13 straight, will attempt to end Hartville’s season for the second-straight year when they play at 2:45 p.m. Saturday in Republic. The Blue Jays beat those Eagles 73-71 in last year’s sectional round.