GIRLS BASKETBALL: Greenwood earns spot in regional tournament with win over Denver City

ANDREWS Several months ago when Greenwood head coach Quint Anthony planned out the Rangerettes 2016-17 nondistrict schedule he wanted his team to go through a “meat-grinder.”

By that he means to face the toughest competition possible before January in hopes it pays off in the playoffs.

Tuesday night in Greenwood’s regional quarterfinal against Denver City — that schedule more than paid itself back.

Greenwood took down Denver City 60-56 at the Andrews Performance Center to advance to the Region I-4A Tournament for the second straight season.

Denver City’s Morgan Dial led all scorers with 24 points. Natalee Karcher led Greenwood with 20 points, including going 12 of 14 from the free-throw line. Cassi Mebane chipped in 15 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

“I got to give credit to these girls, they played their hearts out and they did everything that we asked them to do, as many times as we asked them to do,” Greenwood head coach Quint Anthony said. “This could be a rematch next year. Most of those girls are a strong junior class and I’ve got a lot of mine coming back. I look forward to playing them again sometime down the road.”

After coming out of the gates slow in its last two playoff games, Greenwood (25-12) got the start it needed, jumping out to an 11-point lead before the game was three minutes old.

“They did have a great start tonight,” Anthony said. “That’s what we have to do from here on out.”

Denver City didn’t score until halfway through the game’s opening quarter but stormed back to bring Greenwood’s lead to four by the start of the second quarter.

Slowly but surely, Denver City (25-7) climbed back into it and tied the game early in the second quarter and kept in close until after the halftime break.

The Rangerettes again started a half strong in the third quarter, jumping out to a 13-point lead by the start of the fourth.

Then that “meat-grinder” experience came into play when the Fillies repeated history from the first half by cutting time after time into the Rangerettes’ lead.

By the time the fourth quarter was halfway done, the Rangerettes led by eight and by the time the game reached its final two minutes, the lead was down to four.

“You just try to take it play-by-play,” Karcher said. “You don’t want to see the end of the ballgame; it’s never over until the last buzzer rings.”

Denver City ramped up its pressure on its full-court defense causing a few Greenwood turnovers.

In turn, Greenwood ramped up its perimeter defense, not allowing a single Denver City 3-pointer in the game’s final quarter.

From there, Greenwood was able to keep the ball away from Denver City just enough to make sure it secured the victory.

“When we played that meat-grinder schedule early in the year, you develop those qualities to hang on this kind of situation,” Anthony said. “We’ve been in this situation with other teams in close games and I think our girls have learned to bond together when the going gets tough.”

Greenwood will play in a Region I-4A semifinal Friday against Godley at Lubbock Christian University’s Rip Griffin Center.

“It’s exciting,” Anthony said about returning to the regional tournament. “No matter who we play, we’re just excited to be back there.”