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Free throws lift Greenwood to win despite loss of key player

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Freshman Holly Hoopingarner sank three critical free throws in the final 14 seconds of Wednesday night’s game as Greenwood pulled out a 42-37 girls basketball win at Perry Meridian.

The Class 4A No. 5 Woodmen are now 7-0 for the first time in coach Debbie Guckenberger’s 10-year coaching career at the school.

Despite losing one of its starters to injury for most of the first half and connecting on just 14 of 40 field-goal attempts, Greenwood secured the victory with a strong defensive effort in the game’s closing minutes.

Nearly midway through the opening quarter, senior starting guard Jordan Unversaw suffered an injury to her mouth after colliding with fellow senior guard Chloe Orrvar.

Initially, both players fell to the floor, but it was Unversaw who was forced to leave the game.

“When both of them went down, our other starters had a deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces,” said Guckenberger. “Jordan is critical to a lot of what we do out there, and Chloe is the heart and soul of our defense. We just hit the panic button at that point.”

Even before the injury, which forced Unversaw out until the second half, the Woodmen struggled against a perimeter-happy Falcons offense. Eighteen of Perry Meridian’s 20 first-half points came from 3-point shots as five different players connected on at least one shot from behind the arc.

Meanwhile, the Woodmen hit only 7 of their 23 field-goal attempts during the game’s first two quarters.

With Unversaw back on the floor, Greenwood rattled off five unanswered points to open the third quarter, but ultimately trailed by three points going into the fourth. The game was tied at 36 with 2:24 remaining, but a 3-point play by senior Deauna Evans gave the Woodmen a 39-36 advantage.

The Falcons narrowed their deficit to one point on a free throw with 25 seconds remaining but could get no closer.

“Our shot selection was horrible in the first half, but we were resilient,” said Guckenberger. “Our subs did a nice job off the bench, but we just never really got in sync while on offense. Some of the credit for that goes to Perry.”

Evans led Greenwood with 21 points, and Orrvar added nine. Senior guard Kelsie Ratliff registered a game-high eight rebounds. The Falcons were led in scoring by senior Katie Kelly who had 11 points.

“These players have gotten used to close games, and they’ve also gotten used to winning over the last couple of years, so they know how to pull out games like this,” Guckenberger said. “We had good leadership last year, and that’s carried over to this season. I guess you could say we’ve had a little bit of luck here and there, too.”

Greenwood travels to Martinsville for a 1:30 p.m. game Saturday.

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