DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Holly Hoopingarner dominated the stat sheet for Greenwood’s girls’ basketball team Friday night, but the key to the Woodmen’s Johnson County Tournament semifinal win might have occurred when she was on the bench.
Greenwood coach Lee Taft elected to pull Hoopingarner from the game after she picked up her second foul midway through the first half, with the Woodmen trailing Franklin 24-22. Greenwood responded by outscoring the Grizzly Cubs 11-2 to end the half with a 33-26 lead.
The Woodmen held on late to defeat Franklin 72-64 at Center Grove and earn a spot in tonight’s championship game, where they’ll play Whiteland, which defeated the host Trojans 64-52 in Friday’s first semifinal contest.
Franklin and Center Grove will meet in tonight’s third-place game at 6 p.m.
Hoopingarner, an IUPUI signee, led all scores with 34 points, so her absence late in the first half wasn’t ideal for Greenwood. But she and Taft were pleased to see what the rest of the squad did in her absence.
“The team really came together,” Hoopingarner said. “Our focus has been team defense. When I went out, everyone stepped up.”
Four Greenwood players scored during that stretch, and Maddy Renfro’s steal and layup that barely beat the halftime buzzer gave the Woodmen a 33-26 halftime edge.
“We’re confident with our depth,” Taft said. “We’re able to keep pace with other teams because of that.”
Greenwood (5-0) went on a 15-0 run that spanned the second and third quarters to open up a 43-26 edge with 3:01 remaining in the third quarter. Franklin (2-4) then responded by going on a 9-0 run of its own to close the gap to 43-37 at the end of the period.
The Cubs trailed 61-56 with 2:06 remaining after a pair of McKenna Bertsch free throws, but couldn’t draw any closer.
“We just got more aggressive offensively and defensively,” Franklin coach Walt Raines said of the Cubs’ third-quarter spurt. “We also took better care of the basketball. We didn’t take care of it in the first half. We didn’t attack the basket.
“We had them on their heels (after Hoopingarner came out of the game) but didn’t take advantage.”
Greenwood’s fullcourt press and trapping defense forced Franklin into 21 turnovers, but the Cubs committed just four in the second half.
Bertsch led Franklin with 20 points, including 16 in the second half. Maci Eads added 15 points and seven rebounds, while Delanie Hill contributed 13 points off the bench.
Renfro and Megan Overton scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Greenwood. Overton also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, including nine in the decisive second quarter.
The pressure defense both teams applied resulted in a combined 50 fouls and 64 attempted free throws. Each team hit 23 foul shots, but Greenwood needed only 29 attempts (79.3 percent) to Franklin’s 35 (65.7 percent). Hoopingarner hit 11 of 12 from the line for the Woodmen.
Greenwood’s edge in forcing turnovers (21-13) helped the Woodmen take a whopping 64 shots, hitting 23 (35.9 percent). Franklin shot 18 of 48 from the floor (37.5 percent).
“We wanted the game to be fast, but we never got it fast because of all the fouls,” Taft said. “We were trapping before the dribble, which was too soon. But the faster pace limited their halfcourt efficiency, which is what we wanted to do.”