Ryan Morningstar has been telling his girls basketball team all year to focus on defense, knowing that there will be games when the shots just won’t fall. That’s what happened on Tuesday and No. 4-ranked Greenbrier was still able to prevail.
With shots refusing to drop, the Wolfpack dug in and played defense. Shots were contested. Defenders impeded the dribblers. Greenbrier always had a girl in the middle of a scrum for a loose ball. The result was a 46-39 win over Loganville, which puts the Pack close to nailing down the Region 8 championship.
And that defense? It limited Loganville to two third-quarter points and didn’t allow the Red Devils to score again until 3:30 left in the game.
“All year long we’ve been blessed to shoot the ball well and just taking care of business,” said Morningstar, a 20-year coaching veteran in his third season at Greenbrier. “And then we put our defense with it and we’ve been able to get some big wins. But there are some nights just won’t be there and when that happens that means you’ve got to step it up defensively on the floor and we did that (against Loganville.)”
Greenbrier improved to 17-3 and 9-0 in the region. The Wolfpack has played a road-heavy schedule and the losses have come against Class 7A No. 5 West Forsyth, Class 2A No. 6 Josey and Class 7 No. 10 Woodstock. The win over Loganville gives Greenbrier a two-game sweep over its rival; Loganville defeated Greenbrier in the region title game last year after the two teams split during the regular season.
Greenbrier lost only one player from last year’s team that went 22-4 and lost in the second round of the playoffs. The experience really shows during close games, with players keeping their cool and not losing their heads.
It helps that Trinity Barrow is there to run things at point guard. The 5-foot-5 junior is effective on drives to the basket and can knock down the 3-pointer. She averages a team-leading 12.7 points and had had 12 points against Loganville. He also gets 5.1 assists, 4.3 steals and 5.0 rebounds.
“She’s the motor that makes us go,” Morningstar said. “To have a true point guard who wants to pass first is a huge blessing.”
Caitlin Staley, a 6-foot-3 junior, is receiving DI looks. She has long arms that helps protect the rim and is effective on offense around the basket. She scored nine against Loganville, but went for 27 two days earlier against Woodstock. Staley averages 9.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks.
The two senior wings also return – Brooklyn Begley is an outstanding shooter from range and Jordan Tanksley, who is also capable of knocking down the 3. Begley averages 11.7 points and 2.4 steals. Tanksley averages 8.1 points and 3.3 rebounds.
Other key contributors have been seniors Nadia Holliman, Sydney Peake and Jahlaila Owens, and junior Morgan McMurray. Holliman averages 5.8 rebounds and 4.4 points.
“We got to the first two years ago and we got to the second round last year and we’ve got everybody back,” Morningstar said. “I feel like we have the experience and we knows what it takes to get to that level and we’ve preached that all year long.”
Greenbrier plays again on Friday at home against Eastside.
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