GREENWOOD (KFSM)--December 11th, 2018. An otherwise unassuming Tuesday turned into a somber day in Sebastian County.
"When it all kind of went down, it was day of a game. Pretty big game for the girls, they were playing a really good team Farmington," then boys assistant coach Matt Bryant recalled. "And the first night it was just me, the junior high coach and the current assistant. Just all kind of gonna help out and get through that night."
Clay Reeves, Greenwood's coach since 2004 announced that he'd miss the rest of the season due to a medical issue. At that point, the Lady Bulldogs were 5-1, and turned to Bryant.
"It's been different, I've never coached high school girls, said Bryant.
"Coach Bryant has really been awesome. He's been a great replacement," senior Susannah Stein said.
"He's not the kind that will just scream in your face or anything," agreed fellow senior Kyiah Julian.
"My whole goal was just to make it as easy as possible, me coming in," explained Bryant. "I couldn't come in and be a whole lot different than what they're used to."
Greenwood won that game over Farmington 55-52, and enter the 5A state tournament as the No. 3 seed out of the West. But the Lady Bulldogs won't have Reeves, who's led Greenwood to four state championships and won seven in his career.
"We were all heartbroken, so sad. And we were all concerned about his health. But we understood why he had to step down," Stein said.
"Coach Reeves is my best friend," Julian added. "He's the first coach ever to really believe in me that I could play, so we're really close. And when he said that it was his health issues, obviously everyone was upset."
Reeves is recovering following a successful surgical procedure in mid-February, and still keeps abridged on Greenwood's progress.
"You know I talk to him every once in a while. Early on I talked to him a lot. I'd call him a lot and say hey, what about this," said Bryant.
Greenwood lost to Jonesboro in the 6A state title game last season and returned all but one player for the 2018-19 season.