Defending champs advance

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Lady Horns hold off Calico Rock in first round of tourney in Batesville

The Viola Lady Longhorns are the defending Lyon College Invitational Tournament champions and were in no hurry to make an early exit on the first day of this year's edition of the annual battle at Becknell Gymnasium in Batesville.

And "no hurry" was just what the Lady Horns were in.

Despite the best intentions of the Calico Rock Lady Pirates to turn the contest into an up-and-down affair, Viola for the most part resisted, using a deliberate plan of attack to top Calico Rock 45-44 Dec. 2 in first-round action.

The Lady Longhorns also knocked down eight big free throws inside the last five minutes of the game to fend off a late charge from the Lady Pirates.

While Calico Rock's attempts to speed up the game with full court pressure didn't bother Viola much in the first half of play, it did have some success after intermission.

Viola held a 29-13 lead in the third period when the Lady Pirates made their move.

Calico Rock ripped off eight unanswered points to pull within eight, 29-21, without the ball ever leaving its end of the court, as the Lady Pirates' trapping, inbounds defense found its stride.

Viola managed to weather this storm and held a 34-30 lead heading into the fourth period.

This lead turned into a 34-all tie as Ashton Lester hit a baseline jumper and Hannah Wright (five points) hit a layup off a steal as the Lady Pirates evened the score for the first time since the first period. Lester paced Calico Rock with a game-high 20 points on the afternoon.

Micah Thompson stopped this Calico Rock run with a putback at the 6:36 mark of the fourth, a shot that turned out to be Viola's last field goal of the game. Thompson posted a team-high 18 points for Viola.

Although they were held without a field goal for the last six minutes of the game, the Lady Horns did hit some big free throws down the stretch.

Two charity tosses from Chasidy Hutson (12 points) with 25 ticks left on the clock gave Viola a 45-42 advantage.

Wright responded with a pair from the free throw line nine seconds later that drew Calico Rock closer, down 45-44.

With the Lady Longhorns still in front 45-44, the Lady Pirates had one last chance at victory with nine seconds left, but Calico Rock couldn't get a good shot at the hoop and Viola prevailed by one point.

The first period of play was slow going, as Viola looked to get the ball to Micah Thompson down low in its half-court set, while Calico Rock looked to get some easy hoops out of its full-court pressing defense.

Kori Lamb opened the game with a jumper for Calico Rock before Viola answered with a jumper from Micah Thompson and a layup by Mikita Thompson (seven points).

A bucket from Hutson at the end of the first gave Viola a 7-6 lead after one.

The Lady Horns continued to build on this margin, and a hoop from Lindsey Newton (six points) with 2:29 left until the half pushed Viola in front by 10, 19-9.

Viola took a 21-11 lead into the halftime locker room and held off a late push from the Lady Pirates in the second half to win by one point.

Elizabeth Collins finished with one point for Viola.

Jessica Sanders ended the game with nine points for Calico Rock, while Kim Sutterfield logged four points. Emily Jenkins and Carlene Cruby added two points each for the Lady Pirates.

The Longhorns, too, used a good showing at the free throw stripe to up-end the Concord Pirates 44-36 in the first round of the Lyon College Invitational.

Matt Bynum (four points) hit a pair of huge free throws to give the Horns a little breathing room with 1:04 left in the game.

Bynum's charity shots came with Viola in front by two, 36-34.

Viola then finished off the matter by going six-for-six from the free throw line in the last 29 seconds, including four straight by Kasey Humphries (10 points) to hold off Concord by eight points.

Concord had jumped on top for a quick 4-0 lead to start the game when Viola got going.

Austin Springfield nailed a jumper for the Horns' first points of the contest and Jeremiah Johnson (10 points) chipped in with an inside hoop to tie the game at 4-all. Springfield paced Viola with 13 points in the victory.

Tyler Ochoa hit two shots from the free throw line with less than a minute left in the first period to knot matters at 12-all after one.

Johnson scored all five of Viola's points in the second period, outscoring Logan Spinks' four-point output that marked all of Concord's points in the frame. Spinks scored a game-high 18 points for the Pirates.

The Horns held a 17-16 lead at the break.

It was Springfield's turn to shine in the third.

He drained two treys and scored eight of the Longhorns' 10 points in the stanza, helping the Horns to a 27-24 lead after three. Lucas Rains (seven points) was responsible for the other two Longhorn points in the third.

Concord primed its comeback pump with a pair of 3-pointers early in the fourth, the last one pulling the Pirates within one, 31-30.

Humphries helped stop Concord from getting any closer down the stretch run by knocking in the first three of his seven free throws in the game, resulting in a 44-36 Longhorn win.

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