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PREP BKB: Van Buren knocks off Greenbrier to end two-game skid

by Harold McIlvain | February 4, 2023 at 2:03 a.m.

VAN BUREN -- The growth and development of Van Buren sophomore guard Trenton Cooley have been gradual all year, but his breakout party finally happened Friday night.

Cooley scored a season-high 12 points of the bench to help lead Van Buren past Greenbrier in a 46-37 victory at Clair Bates Arena. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Pointer by downing the 5A-West co-conference leaders entering the game.

"He has made a slow climb to where he is right now," Van Buren Coach Brad Autry said of Cooley. "Coming off the football field he was dealing with some injuries and struggled a little bit. He found his footing and has kept getting better and better. It's gotten to the point where we have to get him in the rotation because he is playing so well. This was by far his best game of the year."

Cooley made an impact early from the outside in the first half. He nailed back-to-back three-pointers in the second quarter to give Van Buren a 19-18 lead.

When the game was on the line in the final quarter, Cooley took his game to another level. He finished with a team-high six fourth-quarter points to help close out the win.

"He has a calmness to go make plays in big spots," Autry said. "You don't see that in everybody. He can go out there and get points when we need them the most. I'm super proud of the climb he has made when given the opportunities to come through."

Autry has seen progress all year from Cooley, but the performance was a bit of a surprise to Cooley himself.

"I didn't expect to do anything like this," Cooley said with a smile. "I just wanted to provide what I can do for this team off the bench. My teammates always have my back. I had an injury from football season, but I'm starting to feel so much better. I want to show what I can do."

Van Buren (13-10, 4-3 5A-West) held just a 13-12 edge after the first quarter before taking a 29-24 lead into the break. Bench scoring was a big part of the early success with nine combined points from Cooley and Bryce Perkins.

Greenbrier (11-10, 5-2) was then held to 1-of-12 shooting in the third quarter. That allowed Van Buren to take a 36-26 advantage into the final quarter.

"We wanted to limit the shot opportunity of some really good players," Autry said. "Our guys executed that plan so well. We adjusted well in the game. We talked about at halftime needing to control the defensive glass. They were listening."

Cooley finished out his night strong in the final quarter to provide Van Buren with all but four of its 10 final-quarter points. He had two three-point plays, the second giving the Pointers a 44-32 lead with 1:20 left.

Greenbrier made just four of 14 shots from the field in the fourth quarter.

The Pointers were also guided by Glavine McDonald, who finished with a team-high 13 points to go with eight rebounds. The Panthers were led by a game-high 15 points from Jace Dunlap.

Van Buren let out some frustration that was building over the past two weeks with games being postponed and practices being canceled because of the recent weather.

"It's been tough having just two games in two weeks and with three days with no practice and no school this week," Autry said. "I think with the culmination of going on the road and losing two games we felt we could win, we took a little out of that feeling tonight. We were able to do things right that we didn't in those previous two games."

Print Headline: Van Buren puts end to two-game losing skid


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