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Greenwood guard Leia Trinh (center) shoots Feb. 25 against Bowling Green at South Warren High School.

Editor’s note – This is the seventh in a 16-part series of high school basketball previews counting down to the scheduled opening night of the regular season Jan. 4.

The Greenwood girls’ basketball team is hoping to finish what it started this year.

Last season Greenwood held leads in the third quarter in the majority of its district games, but didn’t get its first district win until the postseason.

“We looked at the numbers last year and I think five of the eight district games we led in the third quarter,” Greenwood coach Zach Simpson said. “That is no secret. That was our problem last year. The girls are confident enough to know that they learned from that last year. We know the things we have to do to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Simpson brings back an experienced group, including one of the best players in the region returning from injury, that he hopes is ready to take the next step.

Senior Jacqueline Jackson is back after missing all of last year with a knee injury. Simpson said she is back and ready to go, but the biggest thing for her right now is confidence.

“It’s almost like she picked up right where she left off,” Simpson said. “She’s stronger. She’s quicker. She has developed her game all around. Right now we are excited to have her back.”

Jackson’s return gives Simpson the chance to get creative in the backcourt – with freshman Leia Trinh paired with the senior to create a potent 1-2 tandem. Trinh led the Lady Gators in scoring as an eighth-grader and has only gotten better in the preseason, according to Simpson.

“It allows us to move Jacqueline around to different spots on the floor,” Simpson said. “We’ve always said if we could get Jacqueline off that point guard and let her start attacking from different places on the floor that it would make her game that much better. We’ve got four or five guards that can handle the ball and have experience handling the ball. If we take those four or five and make them interchangeable it is going to make us that much tougher to guard.”

Seniors Rachel Evans and Nicole Milam give the Lady Gators more depth in the backcourt, with junior Kayla Grant – second on the team in scoring and rebounding – bringing experience in the paint.

Greenwood will look to take advantage of junior forward Olivia Lovall’s versatility, with senior Honest Blewett also back.

Among the new faces is junior Olivia Overmohle, who comes over from volleyball after taking a year off from basketball last season.

“Right now she is getting better and she’s learning,” Simpson said. “She’s a tremendous athlete. When you have somebody that has the athletic ability that she has, you can coach her up from a game standpoint.”

With added depth and versatility, Simpson said he is confident that the Lady Gators can improve on last season’s 13-16 season and make the region tournament for the first time since 2012.

“We have all the pieces,” Simpson said. “We have all the pieces to compete for the region. We really believe that. Our guard play is really strong. Our post play is really strong as well. We are confident we can make a run at it. The biggest thing is staying healthy and sticking to our strengths.”

And while the Lady Gators expect to be better, Simpson added it will be a challenge in a District 14 that expects to be tough from top to bottom once again.

“Our district is tough,” Simpson said. “It has been tough since I have been here. It was tough when I wasn’t here. There are a lot of good teams in the region, but it seems like there is no weak spot in this district. Everybody has got the potential and the ability, but I tell you what we are confident and we like our chances.”{&end}

– Follow prep sports reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit bgdailynews.com.

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