Lady Gators open District 14 Tournament with win over Warren Central

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Greenwood wasn’t going to let this one get away. 

After dropping a pair of tough games to Warren Central in the regular season, the Lady Gators knew they had to take care of business on Monday night against the Lady Dragons in the opening round of the District 14 Tournament at South Warren High School. 

That’s exactly what fourth-seeded Greenwood did – battling from start to finish to come away with a hard-fought 51-46 win over No. 5 Warren Central to keep its season alive.

With the Lady Gators’ win, they’ll meet top-seeded Bowling Green in Tuesday’s 6 p.m. semifinal.

“Obviously a tremendous amount of respect for that team and Calvin (Head) and what he’s done over there,” Greenwood coach Zach Simpson said of Bowling Green. “The girls know what they need to do to compete in that game. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it. Right now, at this point in the season, it’s not about X’s and O’s, it’s not about drawing anything up – it’s about do you have the will and determination to go in there and just play basketball? 

“As long as they come in and compete, we’ll be fine.”

Leia Trinh led the way for Greenwood (13-15 overall) with a game-high 21 points, while Kayla Grant finished with 13 and Megan Une tallied 9.

“It was really big because coach always tells me, ‘Kayla, there’s no one that can guard you – use your body,’” Grant said of her performance. “The girls sort of played a little softer on me, so I just used that to my advantage and helped my team win.” 

La Auhnni Lewis scored 14 points for Warren Central, which finished the season 11-20, while Krisheanna Johnson added 12. 

The two sides played a sloppy opening quarter as Greenwood held a tight 6-5 lead after eight minutes of action. 

Both offenses picked up in the ensuing frame as 33 total points were scored. A pair of Alyssa Conner free throws gave Warren Central a 12-9 lead at the 5:18 mark, but Trinh’s basket with 2:25 remaining in the half tied it at 16-16. 

“It feels amazing,” Trinh said of the win. “They’ve beat us twice, but really beating a district team and getting us prepared for tomorrow.”

KK Keener scored inside, and Trinh made a pair at the line to give the Lady Gators a 22-17 advantage at the 1:03 mark – and they were ultimately up 24-20 at the break. 

Trinh was up to 10 points, while Grant had scored nine. Lewis was leading the Lady Dragons with seven points. 

“We practiced yesterday and had some things we were gonna try to throw at ‘em,” Simpson said. “I went through my bag of tricks to see what I could do to keep Johnson out of the lane and she still got there a lot. What we really talked about before the game, we said, ‘You know what? Let’s just go man.’ Let’s just let ‘em play and see who’s ready to play tonight. I’m really proud of my team.”

Greenwood put together a 6-0 run – highlighted by back-to-back buckets from Grant – to build a 36-27 lead with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter. Johnson capped the surge with a layup for Central, and the Lady Dragons were soon within 37-33 entering the fourth.

“We watched film a lot,” Grant said. “Coach made sure we watched film and know what our competitors are going to do. We knew the main two guards – Johnson and La – they like to drive a lot, so we got in a 1-3-1. We practiced it just yesterday to make sure everyone knew where they were supposed to be. We limited the shots that they got in the paint.”

Taelor Leach’s basket cut Warren Central’s deficit to just 37-35, but Greenwood scored four straight points to go up 41-35 with 4:44 remaining. Trinh later knocked down a pair at the line to make it 43-35 with 1:35 to go.

Lewis scored inside to bring the Lady Dragons within 43-39, and Kyleigh Ray’s triple shortly after made it just a 45-42 contest with 46.4 seconds left. 

Johnson netted a 3 to make it 49-45, but the Lady Gators were able to hold on and advance. 

“They got a few more stops than we did,” Warren Central coach Joe Hood said. “I thought our girls did everything – and more – of what we asked them to do. Shots didn’t go and free throws didn’t go. At the end of the day, I love my team. It hasn’t hit me that we lost yet – just still trying to think about all of the growth that they made this year.”

GHS –      6   18   13   14   —   51

WCHS –   5   15   13   13   —   46

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