The Greenwood girls basketball team traveled to the northside Friday night, looking to build on the momentum of last week’s comeback win against Franklin.
In a game dominated by defense, the host Panthers used a huge fourth-quarter surge to get past the shorthanded Woodmen 45-39.
Greenwood trailed 20-14 at the half but outscored the Panthers 10-2 in the third quarter to take a 24-22 lead. Two Sarah McLeod free throws 13 seconds into the final period put the Woodmen up 26-22.
The Panthers (7-5) responded, forcing three quick turnovers to kick-start a 15-2 run during the next four minutes and take a 37-28 lead with 3:16 to play.
Greenwood (5-7) was not out of the game yet.
A 6-0 run of its own, capped by a Holly Hoopingarner 3-pointer, cut the lead to three at 37-34 with 2:42 to play.
They would get no closer, though, as North Central went 6 of 8 from the free-throw line in the closing minutes to ice the game.
It was another night when the Woodmen dug an early hole they had to battle out of. North Central led by as many as seven in the first half, aided by 11 first-half turnovers by Greenwood.
Then, in the fourth quarter, the Woodmen were scoreless from the field for the first five minutes.
Coach Debbie Guckenberger said the Woodmen should be better after two months of play.
“We were up four and had the ball three straight possessions and then took horrible shots,” she said. “We didn’t do a good job of handling the ball and made poor decisions all around.
“By this point in the season, our varsity kids need to make better decisions.”
Still, the Woodmen were in the game thanks to great work on defense and the boards. They held the Panthers to just 29.1 percent from the field (16 of 55) and grabbed 38 rebounds to 37 for North Central.
Guckenberger praised Greenwood for their work on defense.
“We had a great game plan, and I thought we did a great job on defense.”
North Central’s defense was just as good, though. Using full-court pressure much of the night, they held Greenwood to 12-of-42 shooting from the field (28.6 percent) and forced 21 turnovers for the game.
McLeod led the Woodmen with 12 points and seven rebounds. Hoopingarner scored 11 in limited minutes because of foul trouble. Greenwood also played without starting forward Megan Overton, who was on a softball recruiting trip in Florida.
Asia Green scored 15 points for the Panthers (7-6), while Symone Cathey added 10 points.
Greenwood returns to county and Mid-State Conference play Jan. 10 when they travel to Whiteland.