The Greenland Lady Pirates returned home Friday (March 8) to a heroes welcome complete with screaming fans and a 3A state trophy.
It’s one of the greatest stories in Arkansas girls basketball history. Last year’s team won the state championship with five senior starters. So the team had to replace all of its starters and the team’s leaders.
During the regular season, this year’s team had a losing record at 11-13. In the championship game they played a 33-0 Jessieville team and beat them by almost 30 points, 59-32.
Coach Alan Barton gave the credit for the victory to his team.
“These ladies right here understand that you win big games by playing defense so we played a heck of a defensive game,” Barton said. “Anna Rogers got the ball to the shooters, and we knocked down shots. Whether it’s a great story or not, whether I’m a great coach or that’s a great team, [Thursday] for 32 minutes they were really good.”
Senior Mackenzie Brown told us how they were able to win the title.
“We just practiced,” Brown said. “We focused on their main players and shut ‘em down and then offense just came. We just worked on defense all week and then it all worked out.”
Greenland senior Kari Scott said, “A lot of people because they were 33-0 think oh they’re undefeated they’re not going to beat them. They are a great basketball team. I think obviously we were better.”
These young ladies are hard workers, disciplined, talented, and committed. The three seniors on this squad had to set the tone for the underclassmen.
“It was kind of like we were the leaders,” Brown said. “Last year we came off the bench and it didn’t feel like it was us, but this year it feels like it is.”
Morgan Miller, smaller in stature than some of her teammates, came up big in the championship game when she led all scorers with 14 points. The senior has won two straight state tiles. Morgan said she’s happy about the state championship but a little sad at the same time.
“After the game I did get kind of emotional but I know that I ended it in a great way, ” Miller said. “I felt good about it. I know these girls are going to do their best next year and I’ll come back and support them.”
This team won’t be given time to rest on their laurels. Even though the Lady Pirates just got back, Barton told the team, “girls you can take a week off for spring break and then it’s back to work for next year.”
Perhaps Barton and his players have their eyes on a three-peat.