Midland keeps Viola from earning ninth straight state berth with OT loss
There are a bunch of different ways to describe when something is hot.
And now, there's also Kaleb West-hot.
West put on an explosive display of clutch long-range bombing as the Viola Longhorns slugged it out with the homestanding Midland Mustangs in the semifinals of the Class AA Region 3 Tournament at Pleasant Plains Feb. 25.
With an eight-point deficit heading into the final period, West helped the Longhorns make up lost ground by jacking four triples in the frame, as Viola came roaring back to lock the game at 51-all, sending the game into overtime.
However, the Mustangs (38-7), ranked number 10 in Class A, also are a hot-shooting bunch, especially at home.
By outscoring Viola 19-7 in the extra frame, Midland knocked off Viola 70-58.
The loss ends the Longhorns' season with a mark of 30-8 and keeps Viola from making its ninth straight appearance in the state tournament. This is the Horns' first season at the AA level, after moving up from the A ranks last year.
The game was a tussle for most of the evening, and a big buzzer-beating shot at the half may have provided the Mustangs with a shot of adrenaline that they rode in the second half.
With the Horns holding a 26-22 lead late in the second, Midland's Josh McIntosh hit a halfcourt shot at the buzzer that pulled his squad within a single point, 26-25, of the lead at intermission. The shot was shades of Cory Batterton's half-court buzzer beater a week earlier in the finals of the 2AA-North District Tournament, a shot that helped propel Viola to the tourney title against Sloan-Hendrix.
On the night, the sky was on fire at Pleasant Plains, with both squads combining for 17 treys, 11 for Midland and six for the Longhorns.
The Mustangs, fueled by McIntosh's bomb, moved in front 40-32 after the third period, closing the frame on a 7-0 spurt.
West decided he had yet begun to fight, as he demonstrated by blasting in 12 of his team-high 19 points in the final period.
He opened by canning back-to-back treys for Viola, and Kevin Painter (three points) chipped in with a layup before West tied the game at 43-all with yet another 3-ball.
The Horns did move in front, 50-48, on West's fourth trifecta of the fourth, with 1:26 left in the clock.
The Mustangs moved back on top, 51-50, with a traditional 3-point play by Ben Nuckles at the 1:07 point.
Batterton (three points) sent the game in overtime tied at 51-all with a free throw at the 44-second mark.
Midland, runners-up of the 2AA-East District Tournament, finally put the game away in the extra period, bombing in three treys in the first two minutes of overtime, part of its 19 points in the frame that was just too much for Viola to overcome. Tyler Richardson (eight points) nailed a 3-pointer at the OT buzzer to round out the scoring.
The Mustangs jumped on top 11-2 late in the first period before Viola responded with five unanswered points to close the frame.
Ryan Walker (seven points) canned a hoop and added a free throw, while Batterton tossed in a layup to keep the Mustangs from running away with the game early, as the Horns trailed 11-7 after one.
Using an 11-0 run deep in the second, Viola grabbed the margin from Midland.
West started this Longhorn uprising with his first triple of the game, and Cody Hutson (16 points) knocked in with four points, pushing the Horns in front 22-18.
Despite the halfcourt heave by McIntosh at the halftime buzzer, Viola maintained a one-point lead at intermission, a lead they would ultimately lose.
The Mustangs went on to suffer a 48-46 loss to the Cave City Cavemen in the regional finals Feb. 26.
It was Midland's third loss in four meetings with the Cavemen this season.
Both Cave City and Midland earned trips to this week's state tournament at the Dawg Palace on the campus of Sloan-Hendrix High School in Imboden.