How a calculated risk by Vilonia girls paid off with a shocking win at 5A No. 1 Greenwood
GREENWOOD — Vilonia took a calculated risk in voting for a conference tournament last week.
The Lady Eagles would have had the No. 2 seed in the 5A-West wrapped up ahead of the Class 5A state tournament next week.
Instead, Vilonia helped swing the vote among athletics directors in the conference to a 5-3 advantage to play a tournament, rather than making up the games missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and inclement winter weather.
“It’s an odd year,” Vilonia head coach Jeremy Simon said. “We wanted a tournament because we thought we’d have a chance to improve our position. That’s what it was all about.
"We knew the boys were going to have a tournament, so we thought it was only fair for the girls to have a tournament, too. I would have been happy either way. It really didn’t matter to us. They asked us, and we said we wanted to play for something.”
On Wednesday, Vilonia Lady Eagles did indeed improve its conference standing with a stunning 77-69 win over Greenwood in the championship game of the conference tournament at H.B. Stewart Bulldog Arena.
The win earned Vilonia the top seed from the conference and puts them on the opposite side of the bracket in the Class 5A state tournament from Greenwood, the No.1-ranked team in the classification, and Little Rock Christian, the 5A-Central champion.
Batesville, though, was stunned at home on Wednesday in the championship game of the 5A-East tournament in a 51-50 loss to Jonesboro. That now puts Batesville, which shared the No. 1 spot in Class 5A in the poll with Greenwood most of the regular season, on the same side of the bracket as Vilonia.
Greenwood swept through the regular season unscathed, including a 71-52 win over Vilonia in January. Vilonia canceled the second game of the regular season against Greenwood due to weather.
Vilonia’s only chance at getting the top seed in the state tournament was a conference tournament.
On Wednesday, the Lady Eagles celebrated on the court after the win, as well in the locker room after locking up a top seed.
“This is a big win for them,” Simon said. “We know how good Greenwood is and their tradition. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a big win for our team.”
Vilonia outscored Greenwood, 24-10, in the fourth quarter on Wednesday after trailing, 59-53.
Lauren Patterson scored 13 points in the final quarter and had 29 to pace Vilonia; freshman Madeleine McCarty added 13 points, Laney Mears 12 and Brandie Rottman 11.
Vilonia held a 47-26 edge in rebounding, including 18 offensive rebounds.
Kinley Fisher led Greenwood with 30 points.