HOT SPRINGS — Injuries and turnovers were a big key in the Class 5A state championship game Thursday night at Bank OZK Arena.
Vilonia, which was had several players miss time during the state tournament last week at Pine Bluff, committed 21 turnovers, which led to 32 points as Greenwood (31-2) beat the Lady Eagles (28-5) 58-35 to win the Class 5A state title in front of 5,123 fans.
Vilonia junior Lexy Heston and sophomore Lila Toll missed time during the late part of the season. Toll played some in the state tournament last week. Heston was injured in the second round against Siloam Springs and did not play against Marion in the semifinals on Saturday. They both suited up against Greenwood on Thursday.
Heston started but played only six minutes. Toll came off the bench and played 13 minutes and scored one point.
“Lexy started every game for us this year,” Vilonia coach Jeremy Simon said. “When she went down in the second quarter against Siloam, we had just been able to survive. She’s a big piece to our team. We didn’t play our best in the second round against Siloam without her. Our defense, you could tell, wasn’t there. She had not practiced since her injury.”
Simon said Heston was a game-time decision.
“She had been doing everything she could to get back to be able to play,” he said. “When her adrenaline picked up and put her uniform on, she said she was just going to go play. Obviously, she couldn’t move like she wanted to. Not having her 100 percent really hurt.”
Simon said Toll injured her right shoulder several weeks ago
“She played a couple of minutes in the first round game,” Simon said. “She played one minute against Siloam Springs. She said ‘I’m playing tonight.’ She wasn’t 100 percent but went out there and tried her best.”
Simon said his team never gave up despite the final score.
“We weren’t going to quit, no matter what the score was,” Simon said. “That is one of the reasons why we are here. That’s what they’ve taken on all year. We were down and looked like we were beat in the second round. It looked like we were beat in the semis. This group just kept fighting. That’s one of the things we talked about. No matter what the score was, we were not going to give up. We were going to play for four quarters.”
Vilonia never led in the game. The Lady Eagles trailed 5-0 before Kinley Mears hit a jumper with 5:17 left in the first quarter to make the score 5-2. Greenwood eventually pulled out to a 16-6 lead before Maddie Manion hit a three-pointer with 1:04 left in the first quarter to cut the deficit to 16-9.
Greenwood took control of the game in the second quarter, outscoring the Lady Eagles 18-7 to lead 34-16 at halftime. The Lady Bulldogs continued to roll in the third quarter, leading by 28 points heading into the final eight minutes.
“Tonight, we just had too many turnovers,” Simon said. “We can’t have 21 turnovers. Credit Greenwood. That was their game plan. If we handle the pressure, we get good shots. Their offensive rebounding beat us.”
The Lady Bulldogs had 12 offensive rebounds, leading to 15 second-chance points. Vilonia had one second-chance point.
“That’s tough to overcome,” Simon said.
Mears led Vilonia with 12 points. Bailey Sims had eight points and five rebounds. Sidni Middleton and Mannion had six points each. Mannion led the Lady Eagles with seven rebounds. Abby Wertz had two points. Toll added one.
Anna Trusty led Greenwood with 17 points. Mady Cartwright and Carley Sexton had 13 points apiece. Brooklyn Woolsey had 12.
Mark Buffalo is the sports editor of the Log Cabin Democrat and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.