The Viola Longhorns hosted the Rural Special Rebels from Fox for a trio of conference games Jan. 11, and Viola took two out of three.
In the junior boys' game, the Viola junior Longhorns took a 33-28 win, holding off a late charge from the Rebels.In the senior girls' matchup, the Lady Longhorns struggled early, and it cost them down the stretch.
Ashley Jones provided the spark in the first quarter for the Lady Longhorns, accounting for all the scoring, notching 7 first quarter points. At the end of the first period, Viola trailed 11-7.
In the second frame, Courtney Hamby answered a Lady Rebel free throw with a 14 footer off the right baseline to pull the Lady Longhorns to within 3, then Hannah Benton canned a couple of charity tosses to close the gap even tighter.
After Rural Special hit a bucket to go up 3, the Lady Longhorns stormed back to take a 15-14 lead with 4:34 to go before half.
Neither team could gain much advantage, but the Lady Rebels gained a little ground and took a 22-19 lead at the break.Jones hit a couple of free throws to open the third quarter, getting it back to a 1-point game, but Rural Special ripped off 6 quick points to open their lead back up.
Brandi Shrable knocked down a jumper in the lane to stop the Lady Rebel run, but Rural Special went on another run, this one 7-0, putting the Lady Longhorns down by a dozen.
A free throw by Jeana Shrable and a traditional 3-point play by Hamby put Viola right back in the game, but the Lady Longhorns would see their deficit grow to 9 points heading into the final quarter.
The Lady Longhorns could close the gap, getting outgunned 17-10 in the final stanza, dropping a 56-40 decision.
Scoring for the Lady Longhorns: Jones ((17), B. Shrable (7), Hamby (7), J. Shrable (4), Benton (3), and K. Shrable (2).
In the senior boys' contest, it was an uncharacteristic win for the Longhorns. It wasn't uncharacteristic that they won to stay undefeated in conference play, but it was the way they won.
When you watch the Longhorns, you expect most of their shots to be from the outside, with men coming around screens for the shots, not from the inside.
Although it's not uncommon for the Twin Mountains of "Big Jake" Oliver and Dustin "Big Country" Jones to rack up the points, it usually comes from them hustling and getting rebounds for stickbacks and off broken plays, not from set plays to get the ball inside for them. The plays are not set for the big guys in the middle.
That wasn't the case last week. With "Big Jake" sidelined rehabbing from an injury, "Big Country" Jones exploded and unloaded on the Rebels.
The Longhorns opened the game with Kyle "Boomer" Baumunk taking the inside pass and nailing a 12 footer off the left side of the lane, then Derek Winter hit a layup, giving Viola the early 4-0 lead.
After Baumunk hit another jumper, giving the Longhorns a 6-3 lead, Viola caught Rural Special playing defense with the same thought as the rest of the league, they were sure they would have to shut down Justin "Batman" Batterton, especially coming off the screens.
Batterton showed the Rebels they had guessed wrong, and dished inside to Jones, and Jones dropped the shot. With Jones finding the open spots, he kept getting the ball, and kept scoring. Jones ran off a couple of more buckets, giving the Longhorns a 12-3 lead.
Batterton and Jones traded buckets with the Rebels to finish the first quarter, with Viola holding a 16-7 lead after one.Rural Special opened the second with a trey, but Baumunk knocked down a 14 footer off the right side of the free throw line, to keep Viola up by 8.
The Longhorns held a 23-14 lead after Jones tipped in a rebound, but the Rebels kicked in 5 quick points to close the Longhorns lead to 4. Viola opened their lead back up when Casper Cowgill got the no-look pass from Batterton, and hit the layin. Jones followed up with a turnaround jumper off the right baseline, but Rural Special ripped off 5 more quick ones, and the Longhorns lead was down to 3.
A couple of free throws by Winter and a couple of short jumpers by Jones gave Viola a 33-24 halftime lead.
Jones opened the third quarter with a backdoor lay in off the Batterton feed, giving the Longhorns a double digit lead.
After the Rebels tacked on a bucket of their own, they were finally realizing that Viola actually was passing inside, and decided to pack the defense in tight. That's when Batterton showed them why they shouldn't by draining a trey from the right wing. Jones and Baumunk each added a bucket to help push the Longhorns lead to 42-26.
Baumunk and Batterton kept up the barrage, helping the Longhorns take a 50-42 lead into the final period.
Viola opened their lead to 56-44, but watched it shrink to 7 points on some outside shots by the Rebels, but the Longhorns went on 11-3 run to put some distance on the Rebels, and went on the claim a 69-55 victory.
If the Longhorns will actually run some plays in for the Twin Mountains when "Big Jake" Oliver returns, and keep feeding them during the game, they will get tougher down the stretch, and will give anyone fits on trying to defend the team as a whole instead of trying to shut down only the outside game.