Special to The News
Former Highland standout Jeremy Lewis returned to Highland Memorial Gymnasium Nov. 11 as head coach of the Viola Longhorns and saw his junior team and senior B team drop lopsided losses before his senior A team made a game of it, only to succumb to Highland's hat trick.
The Lady Longhorns, hoping to avenge a late season loss to the Lady Rebels last year, also fell in a close contest to make it a Highland four-game sweep.
When the two girls' teams met last at Viola, both schools honored Thednall Hill, who coached teams at both Highland and Viola to state championships on his way to becoming the winningest girls' basketball coach in Arkansas history.
The Lady Longhorns came into the contest 8-0 and determined to spoil Highland's home opener. The game saw multiple lead changes, with Viola ahead most of the night, but each time they looked poised to pull away the Lady Rebels erased the margin and stole the lead. Highland came from behind in the last quarter by hitting 11 of 14 free throws down the stretch to win 61-55.
Highland led after the opening period 13-8, but both teams made runs in the second. At one point the Lady Longhorns led by six (25-19) before Highland went on a 6-0 run to tie the game at 25-all on a clutch three-pointer by senior point guard Andrea Sublett at the buzzer to end the half.
Viola led by three entering the final period with Kyla Batterton and Lindsay Barker leading the way. Highland would outscore Viola 25-16 in the final period to secure the win.
Batterton led Viola with 23, followed by Lindsay Barker with 15.
Andrea Sublett led Highland with 23, followed by Allyson Sample with 16. Shana Cooper grabbed eight rebounds for Highland.
In the senior boys' game, senior Dustin "Big Country" Jones showed desire as big as his wingspan as he expended every ounce of energy from his 6-9 frame -- scoring inside, snatching boards, blocking shots and even filling the gymnasium with his booming voice as he cheered his teammates from the bench when he got into foul trouble. But Highland overcame Viola's size with quickness to prevail 58-46.
Viola led by five at the half before Highland outscored the Longhorns 22-11 in the third quarter. Coach Lewis was called for a technical after challenging a late call on a night in which both teams were frustrated with the number of whistles. But the Rebels had already stolen the momentum and won going away.
In a balanced attack, Dylan Patterson scored 18 and Mike Kish scored 12 to lead the Rebels.
Jones scored a game high 20 for Viola.
The junior Rebels scored the first 22 points of the game and nearly pitched a first-half shutout against the junior Longhorns in a game that saw all 22 junior boys take to the court. Head Coach Stan Maag freely substitued, sometimes five at a time, to keep the junior Longhorns off balance.
Highland led by as many as 30 in the 58-40 win.