Greenwood avenges Blue & Gold loss to Sparta, advances to C3D11 title game


By Pat Dailey (For

SPARTA — Tyler Harrell responded to his first true taste of postseason pressure in front of a near-capacity crowd like anything but a freshman.

The Greenwood freshman sharpshooter netted four second-half 3-pointers as part of the No. 3 seed Blue Jays’ 66-59 Class 3 District 11 semifinal triumph against second-seeded Sparta on Thursday.

Harrell had a trio of 3s in the third quarter and helped finish off Greenwood’s win with another trey in the fourth quarter.

“This is the biggest stage I’ve ever played on,” Harrell said. “It’s the most people I’ve ever had watch me. I was nervous, but super excited. I knew it was going to be a new experience for me and I was hoping I would be hitting to give the crowd something to watch.”

“Tyler stepped up big time,” guard Collin Clark said. “He hit so many big 3s.”

Midway through the third quarter, Greenwood had three straight possessions that resulted in a 3-pointer, with Logan Sanders swishing a trey followed by back-to-back 3s by Harrell. Suddenly, the Blue Jays were up 40-28.

Harrell and Sanders realize they are contradicting the creed of most 3-point shooters by wearing a long-sleeved shirt under their jerseys. Most shooters don’t like anything on their arms. But given the success of Harrell and Sanders, they might start a new trend.

“My sleeves aren’t very tight. I like them loose so I can get my shot up,” said Sanders, who had a pair of 3s and 13 points, “I started wearing long sleeves a couple weeks ago and started shooting a lot better. Last game, I had five 3s. Since I started playing better, I’ve kept wearing them and haven’t switched back (to short sleeves).”

“I always wear a long-sleeve shirt. Personally, I feel it helps me play better,” Harrell said. “I’m really picky about the shirt I wear under my jersey. I found the right one tonight.”

Harrell and Sanders served as perfect complements to Clark, particularly when Sparta tried to apply extra defensive pressure on Clark.

“We had a game plan to try to see what we could do to make things tough for Collin and I thought for the most part we did,” Sparta coach Deric Link said. “The guys we were leaving made shots. That was the difference in the game. We knew (Harrell) had capabilities to make shots. You have to give up something when you play good players like (Clark). We knew we were going to force (Harrell) to beat us in opportunities and he did. Credit to him. He was ready.”


Clark was 10-of-15 shooting from the field while scoring 26 points, to go along with 11 rebounds. He made his last five field-goal attempts.

Clark scored Greenwood’s final seven points, after Sparta rallied to within 59-57 in the last two minutes.

“I had to pick and choose,” Clark said of his offensive approach. “When they were going to send a double-team at me, I knew I had to get my eyes up and find my teammates. When they only had one (defender) on me, it was time for me to go to work.”

Sanders face-guarded Sparta forward Jake Lafferty as part of Greenwood’s defensive effort against the Trojans’ career scoring leader. The Blue Jays kept Lafferty scoreless in the first quarter and held him to five points in the first half, before he scored 17 points in the second half to finish with 22.

“He was super hard to guard,” Sanders said. “Once a player like him gets going, he is extremely hard to stop. I had to take away my offense a little bit and focus on my defense. That’s what I did. I was trying my hardest to force him to take deeper shots. I had a great supporting cast behind me helping me guard him.”

“We played great team defense,” Clark said. “I’m so proud of us.”

Walker Loveland had four 3s while scoring 16 points for the Trojans.

Sparta (22-6) had won three straight against Greenwood going back to last season.

Greenwood (23-3) will meet No. 1 seed Fair Grove (21-6) in Saturday’s 6 p.m. championship game.

Fair Grove beat Forsyth 49-44 in Thursday’s other semifinal.

“Like I told everyone as soon as we stepped into the locker room, the job is not done,” Clark said. “We’ve got a good Fair Grove team to go against Saturday. The job is not finished.”

Greenwood 66, Sparta 59
Greenwood 11 13 21 21 – 66
Sparta 11 11 15 22 – 59

GREENWOOD (66) — Clark 10 5-6 26, Harrell 5 0-0 14, Sanders 4 3-4 13, Winslow 6 1-2 13.
SPARTA (59) — Loveland 6 0-0 16, Luttrull 5 0-0 13, Letterman 1 4-4 6, Lafferty 9 5-5 24.
3-point goals – Loveland 4, Harrell 4, Luttrull 3, Lafferty, Clark.

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