GREENBRIER — On a Tuesday night when fans, coaches and players sported pink for breast cancer awareness, the Greenbrier boys put on its best offensive display of the season.
The Panthers (12-9, 7-3) cruised to a 61-32 victory over Central Arkansas Christian at Panther Pavilion to remain in second place in the 5A-West Conference race.
Greenbrier jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the opening minutes on 3-pointers by Neal Burcham and Jordan Crank. Trent Virden also added baskets in the Panthers’ fast start. The Mustangs never got within double-digits the remainder of the game.
"That was a pleasant surprise," Greenbrier coach Jason Johnson said. "We just haven’t been able to put the hammer down. Before (Tuesday), we won six conference games, but we were never able to win by double-digits. To be honest, this was a huge surprise."
Burcham led all scorers with 20, followed by Jordan Crank’s 17 points. Virden finished with 11 points.
"All of the guys just did what we asked them to do," Johnson said. "They did a good job of taking care of the ball. It was a total team effort. Trent Virden did a good job on the boards. I thought that we had balanced scoring tonight."
The Lady Panthers couldn’t overcome a sluggish start or a fourth-quarter run by the visitors, as CAC was able to come away with a 41-31 victory.
Greenbrier (11-12, 4-6) owned the first quarter and had control of most of the second quarter, but the Lady Mustangs were the first ones to catch fire from the outside.
"It was a ugly game by both teams for a while," Greenbrier coach Todd Schaefer said. "We had some defensive breakdowns in the second half and we had a hard time of scoring. When they hit those two 3-pointers at the beginning of the fourth quarter, it allowed them to play ahead. When you’re able to hit back-to-back 3’s in game where both teams have trouble scoring, then it’s really magnified."
After CAC regained the lead early in the fourth, Greenbrier’s Callie Livingston, who tied two Lady Mustangs for game-highs in scoring with 12, hit two free throw attempts at the 5:44 mark, pulling the Lady Panthers within one at 29-28. The Lady Mustangs’ Haley Hatcher drained a 3-pointer on their next possession, and the next time down the court Gracie Frizzell nailed a 3-pointer, extending the lead to 35-28. Hatcher completed an 8-0 by the Lady Panthers, after adding a jumper with just under three minutes left.
"That’s the grind of the 5A West," Schaefer said. "You can either keep grinding or act like it doesn’t bother you. Unfortunately, we do have Siloam Springs on Friday. We’re going to put together a game plan that was better than the last time we played them. Hopefully, we can go up there and give the type of effort that we expect to give each game."
Greenbrier’s Kayle Browning was next on the team in scoring with seven.