The Mt. Pleasant Lady Bluebirds continued their streak of appearing in post-season play on the state level by capturing the Region 2A Championship at Sulphur Rock last Saturday night, earning them a trip to Pine Bluff.
And the Viola Longhorns met their old conference foe Rural Special in a rematch of the district tournament finals, and the outcome was pretty much the same, with the Rebels taking top honors. Viola will make the trek to Pine Bluff this week for their annual ritual of state tournament play as well.
In a very slow tempo game, the Mt. Pleasant Lady Bluebirds showed great patience in working a very methodical offense in the first half.
Katie "Did" Caraway put the Lady Bluebirds on the board first with a jumper off the right baseline, but the Lady Wildcats matched the score right quick. Caraway nailed another jumper off the right side to double up the score on Sulphur Rock, but the Lady Wildcats converted a traditional 3-point play to take the lead at the 3:57 mark.
A deuce from the top by Caraway gave the Lady Bluebirds a brief lead with 39 seconds to go, but Sulphur Rock canned a jumper to close the first quarter to take a 7-6 lead after one.
The Lady Wildcats opened the second quarter with four straight points to take an 11-6 advantage, but the Lady Bluebirds took flight and took over.
Caraway sank a couple of free throws for the first points of the second quarter with under six minutes to play, then Amy Fulbright drained a trey from the top at the 3:20 mark to knot the game at 11-all.
Two charity tosses by Regan Smith and a deuce by Tracy Wilson gave the Lady Bluebirds the lead for good.
The Lady Wildcats scored 3 points to pull back to within 1, but Tamra Love popped two free throws with a couple of seconds left in the first half to give Mt. Pleasant a 17-14 lead at halftime.
The Lady Bluebirds flew into the second half in a flurry, with Caraway scoring 6 straight points to push the Lady Bluebirds lead out to 23-14 in a span of 90 seconds.
A deuce by Sulphur Rock broke the run, but Caraway drilled a trey from the right wing to start the next run. Alauna Wolfe cut backdoor and hit the layin off the Love feed, then Caraway boomed a deuce and then a trey to extend the Mt. Pleasant lead to 17 points at 33-16.
Back-to-back buckets by Sulphur Rock cut the lead by Mt. Pleasant to a baker's dozen, but a free throw and a deuce by Caraway to end the third gave the Lady Bluebirds a 36-30 lead heading into the final stanza.
Caraway traded out points with the Lady Wildcats until about a minute left in the game, and Mt. Pleasant holding a 44-33 lead. Fulbright hit both ends of the one-and-one to push the lead back to 13, but Sulphur Rock knocked down a couple of charity tosses of their own.
Fulbright tacked on a free throw and Smith added 2 to push the Lady Bluebirds out to a 49-35 lead with only 16.4 seconds left to seal the game. A buzzer beating trey by Sulphur Rock set the final score of 49-38 in favor of Mt. Pleasant.
Scoring for the Lady Bluebirds: Caraway (33), Fulbright (6), Smith (4) Love (2), Wilson (2), and Wolfe (2). Named to the All-Regional team was: Kasey "Bosco" Moser of Calico Rock, Amy Fulbright of Mt. Pleasant, and Regional MVP Katie Caraway of Mt. Pleasant.
In the nightcap, it was a rematch of the district tournament with the Rural Special Rebels taking on the Viola Longhorns. With the Longhorns looking for some revenge and an upset, it just wasn't to be. The Rebels ran out to a 4-0 lead before Kyle "Boomer" Baumunk knocked down a jumper off the spin move to put Viola on the boards. "Big Jake" Oliver stuck back a rebound to knot the game at 4-4, but the Rebels retook the lead with a deuce.
Justin Batterton hit a slicing layup at the 5:01 mark to keep things tied up, but 5 quick Rebel points put the Longhorns behind again.
Baumunk pulled Viola back to within 3, but the Rebels canned a trey to extend it to 6 points. Dustin "Big Country" Jones hit the turnaround jumper, but Rural Special kept the heat on with an answer bucket.
Baumunk nailed a jumper off the right side down low, then Batterton added two free throws. Jones canned a couple of charity tosses of his own to knot the game at 16-16, but the Rebels hit a last second bucket to take an 18-16 advantage after one.
The Rebels started the second quarter with a trey, but Oliver went to work on the boards again and stuck back a rebound to keep the Longhorns within 3.
Rural Special ripped off 7 unanswered points to push the lead to double digits, putting the Longhorns down by the count of 28-18. Batterton stemmed the run with a couple of free throws, but the Rebels hit another deuce to keep the gap at 10 points.
Baumunk stopped the Rebels before they got started, and laid one over the front of the rim on the break, then Batterton stroked a trey from the left corner to pull the Longhorns to within 5 at 25-30.
The Rebels added 4 quick points before Derek Winter stuck back a rebound for 2. The Rebels kept the pressure on Viola with another deuce, but Oliver crashed the boards and stuck back yet another rebound, then Batterton hit a deuce from the free throw line to get the Longhorns to within 5 at the break, trailing 31-36.
The Rebels drew first blood in the third with a 2-pointer, but Oliver answered with a leaner off the left side to keep the Longhorns close. Rural Special ripped off 8 straight points to put the pressure on the Longhorns, putting them down by a score of 47-33.
Jones hit a charity toss and Oliver stuck back a rebound to get the deficit under 10, then Batterton and Oliver each canned two free throws each to pull the Longhorns to within 7 at 40-47.
A bucket by the Rebels interrupted the run, but Jones hit two more free throws to keep the gap at 7 points. The Rebels added a couple of free throws of their own, but Baumunk answered with an old-fashioned 3-point play, hitting the jumper off the free throw line and hitting the free throw after getting hacked on the shot.
A free throw by Rural Special pushed their lead back to 7, but Jones hit both ends of the one-and-one to pull the Longhorns to within 5 points heading into the final quarter.Jones traded out scores with the Rebels until Rural Special held a 56-51 lead, then the Rebels added a deuce. But Batterton answered with a trey, cutting the Longhorn challenge to 4 points.
Five quick points by the Rebels put the Longhorns in a bad situation, but John Mark Montgomery hit a free throw to calm the storm. Three more points by Rural Special pushed their lead to double digits again, but Baumunk SLAMMED one home to cut it back to single digits.
Rural Special put the finishing touch on it with a 10-0 run, taking a 76-57 advantage with time running short. Jarrret Wilson hit a 16 footer from the left corner to stem the run, but the Rebels ran off 5 more to push their lead to 81-59.Back-to-back buckets by Viola cut the deficit back to 18 points, but the Rebels finished the game with an 8-0 run to set the final score of 89-63 in favor of Rural Special.Longhorns with double digit points were: Batterton (16), Baumunk (13), Jones (13), and Oliver (12).Named to the All-Regional team were: Justin Batterton, Kyle Baumunk, Jake Oliver, and Derek Winter.