After crashing into the finals at the Izard County Tournament a couple of weeks earlier, Melbourne's junior hoopsters were at it again, this time with the junior Bearkatz and junior Lady Bearkatz both playing their way into the final round of the 2AA-North Junior High District Tournament at Harold Ray Jeffery Gymnasium on the campus of Calico Rock High School Feb. 12.
The results were a bit different then they were in the county tourney when both Melbourne squads came up short of earning titles.
On this night, the 2AA-North regular season champion Lady Bearkatz knocked off the homestanding Calico Rock junior Lady Pirates 35-25, while the Bearkatz dropped a heartbreaker to Sloan-Hendrix by the count of 39-32.
In the girls' final, top-seeded Melbourne used a smothering third period to lock down the third-seeded junior Lady Pirates.
Melbourne held Calico Rock scoreless over the course of the third frame en route to a 10-point win.
Showing plenty of spark early, Calico Rock turned a 7-4 deficit midway into the first period into a 12-7 lead after one with an 8-0 period-closing run.
Kimberly Sutterfield (nine points) fired in five points during this run to put the junior Lady Pirates on top heading into the second period.
Needing an answer, Melbourne found one in Oliva Morris.
Morris opened the second period by posting a jumper and trey, leading the junior Lady Katz with a personal 5-0 run that locked the contest at 12-all at the 4:45 mark. Morris led Melbourne with a game-high 16 points on the night.
As a preview of what would happen to them following intermission, Calico Rock could muster only one field goal in the second, a layup from Jessica Sanders (seven points) that came at the 2:12 mark to tie the game at 14-all.
That score held up at the half, but the junior Lady Katz blasted out of the blocks in the third by outscoring Calico Rock 11-0 to take a 25-14 lead heading into the final period of play.
Putting together a 5-0 spurt midway into the fourth, the junior Lady Pirates pulled within eight, 27-19, before Morris ended the run with a traditional 3-point play.
Undeterred, the junior Lady Pirates tossed in the next five points of the game, including a triple by Sutterfield that pulled her squad within six, 30-24, with 1:05 left to play.
This proved to be as close as Calico Rock could get, as Melbourne added the district tourney trophy to the plaque they earned as regular season champs with a mark of 11-1 in the 2AA-North.
Autumn Henry tossed in 10 points for Melbourne, while Abby Cooper added seven, and Whitney Wammack one.
Hannah Wright tallied six points for Calico Rock, while Tori Rush scored two, and Kori Lamb one.
In boys' action, the third-seeded junior Bearkatz were presented with quite a problem -- how to hand top-seeded Sloan-Hendrix, the regular season kings, its first loss in conference play.
Melbourne had just the plan for the first three periods, before the junior Greyhounds came alive with a crippling run late to earn their 25th win on the season and take home the district tourney title.
Holding a 26-18 advantage after the third period, the junior Bearkatz fell victims to Sloan-Hendrix' half-court trapping defense in the fourth, as the junior Greyhounds closed the game with a 21-6 run in the fourth period to emerge with a seven-point win.
Melbourne started the clash with Sloan-Hendrix off in fine form, as Ben Brown (seven points) opened the game by posted the junior Katz' first six points.
Michael Lunsford (nine points) chimed in late in the first period with a putback and trey to help stake Melbourne to an 11-5 lead after one.
Drew Porter (nine points) helped Melbourne extend this lead into the second with a pair of 3-bombs, and the junior Bearkatz closed the book on the first half with a 7-2 run that saw Melbourne holding a 21-11 lead over the junior Greyhounds at the half.
The pace slowed a bit in the third period, with Sloan-Hendrix outscoring Melbourne 7-5 in the frame to trail 26-18 after three.
This is when the junior Greyhounds came racing back to life, holding Melbourne without any points in the fourth until 1:58 remained in the game, at which time the score was locked at 28-all.
Sloan-Hendrix put the wraps on the game with a 10-4 spurt that saw a valiant effort from the junior Bearkatz fall short at the end.
Garrett Batterton tallied seven points for Melbourne.