eyond Van Buren’s slower-paced, methodical exterior lies a pretty good basketball team.
Greenwood found out how good in an easy 47-18 Pointers win Tuesday.
There was, and generally is, little flash to Van Buren’s gameplan. It’s plenty substantial, though. The unbeaten Pointers (7-0) looked the part of 7A powerhouse against undermanned and overmatched Greenwood.
“With the confidence we got after last week’s tournament championship in Tahlequah (Okla.), you can tell we came in here tonight with a different attitude than we did earlier in the year,” Van Buren coach Randy Loyd said.
Greenwood (1-2) didn’t make its first field goal until the 5:22 mark of the second quarter. The Bulldogs had gone 0-for-11 and had only two offensive rebounds up until Michael Rhea’s jumper broke the skid. By that point, it was a 22-4 Van Buren edge.
Brian Martin’s team dressed 10 players, all but one of whom have zero varsity experience and only a couple weeks practice on their resume.
“Evan Lensing is the only guy on this team with any varsity experience, so these guys, high school basketball is new to them,” Martin said. “They’re still learning and we’re still trying to find our niche.”
Van Buren kept Greenwood on the exterior throughout, largely due to Mitchell Smith’s 6-foot-7 frame in the paint. Smith blocked two shots in the first half and Greenwood rarely ventured into his neighborhood offensively after that.
The Pointers had no such trouble. They shot 57 percent in the first half, at one point making five consecutive shots from the field in opening the big lead. That’s a staple of Randy Loyd’s offense.
“Right now it’s just that this team is patient enough to get the open shot that we need instead of trying to force things,” Loyd said. “That’s what I’m impressed with.”
Ryan Pearson, as he is most nights, was the catalyst. The three-year starter led with 17 points, all of which came from beyond the arc or from the free throw line. His defense, Loyd said, was the biggest key in keeping Greenwood out of the paint.
“You expect him to come in and have a great year, which is what he’s having. He turned it on in Tahlequah the second game and was the MVP over there and he’s got another guy in Jason Harms they can’t leave open either,” Loyd said. “Of course, it helps to have Mitchell back there protecting the rim, but the guards have gotten a lot smarter and do a really good job of keeping the ball out of the paint.”
Harms scored 13 points and Smith added 12 to go with nine rebounds.
Van Buren built a 32-point lead entering the fourth quarter and played the final eight minutes under the sportsmanship rule with a running clock. The systematic Pointers offense allowed for only six possessions per team in that final frame.
Great for Loyd’s tastes ahead of the holidays.
“We’re happy where are, 7-0 going into the break.”
VAN BUREN 47, GREENWOOD 18
Greenwood 2 9 2 5 — 18
Van Buren 16 15 14 2 — 47
Greenwood (1-2): Lensing 5, Rhea 4, Cantrell 2, Hernandez 2, Coleman 2, Lee 2, Morgan 1.
Van Buren (7-0): Pearson 16, Harms 13, Smith 12, Eversole 4, Saulisbury 2.