Greenbrier High School's boys basketball team's patience paid off last week.
After dropping its first five Region 2-AAAAA games -- all by fewer than 10 points -- the Wolfpack picked up their first region victories against Union Grove 62-54 on Friday and against M.L. King 59-57 on Saturday.
"We've been in every single ball game," Greenbrier boys coach Casey Dees said after his team beat Union Grove. "We finally finished one."
The Wolfpack started their region schedule on an 0-5 skid, including a double-overtime setback to top-10 Newton on Jan. 16. Dees said his team failed to convert free throws during the winless stretch.
That wasn't the case against Union Grove.
The Wolfpack made their final six attempts from the line, including four by Kevin Nelson.
Dees' team won two games during a holiday tournament at Evans to gain momentum heading into the start of region play, only to drop its first game to Luella by a point.
But the Wolfpack maintained their momentum after beating the Wolverines, knocking off an athletic M.L. King team at home.
"We're shooting the ball really well," Greenbrier senior Calvin Coke said of the win against the Wolverines. "We just couldn't handle it in the fourth quarter (before)."
The Wolfpack benefited from clean looks from the outside against Union Grove. Senior Bryan Andrews knocked down a 3 to open the game and later added two more. Chad Waddell added a pair of 3s.
The Greenbrier girls also swept Union Grove and M.L. King to improve to 11-6. The Wolfpack beat the Wolverines 36-33 on Friday and M.L. King 48-47 the next day.
The Wolfpack's height frustrated the Wolverines, who were beaten badly on the boards. But Union Grove, which lost to Greenbrier by 30 points in their first meeting, stayed in the game, thanks in part to the Wolfpack's troubles converting layups on second opportunities.
"I don't know how many layups we missed tonight," said first-year Greenbrier coach Dana Bull. "We just got to take our time and knock them down."
Bull has the Wolfpack buying into a new system during her first season.
With Sara Oland and Kaila Hunt in the backcourt last season, former Wolfpack coach Garrett Black emphasized a run-and-gun style that was heavy on guard play.
With Oland gone after graduation, Bull has encouraged her team to look inside first to 5-foot-10 Dorian Freeman and 6-foot-1 Ashli Clark.
The Wolfpack have responded by holding their own in Region 2-AAAAA, despite the travel and higher level of play. Bull said area basketball followers expected her team to fall flat this season.
"That hasn't happened yet," she said. "We're playing with them."
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