Longhorns Delighted with first title since 1957
It's been a long time coming. Almost a half of a century. And how sweet it is -- the state Class A basketball champions of 2002 are from Fulton County. The Viola Longhorns finished their quest for a state championship with a 59-52 victory over the Delight Bulldogs at the Pine Bluff Convention Center March 9.Delight scored first, but Dustin "Big Country" Jones tipped in a rebound and tied the game up at the 5:35 mark in the first period. Then the Longhorns kicked it in gear."Knock 'em out John" Mark Montgomery tickled the nylon from behind the 3-point line, then "Big Jake" Oliver stuck back a rebound, pushing the Longhorns lead to 7-2. After a charity toss by the Bulldogs, Justin "Batman" Batterton, the MVP of the State Tournament, stroked a trey, then came back with a steal that went coast-to-coast for a layup, and Viola was up 12-3.The Bulldogs went on a 9-0 run to knot the game at 12-12, but "Big Country" Jones tipped in a rebound, putting the Longhorns back out in front.Delight came back with a trey to take a brief lead, but Batterton knocked down two free throws to close the first quarter, giving the Longhorns a 16-15 lead.In the second, Batterton continued his assault, canning a leaner off the right baseline, then knocking the bottom out of the net on an NBA-range 3-pointer, putting the Longhorns up by 21-15.Viola had held Delight without a field goal for almost half of the quarter, but that ended when the Bulldogs hit a trey at the 4:27 mark, closing back to within 3 points.Kyle "Boomer" Baumunk put his name in the scoring column when he hit the hanging jumper in the lane, giving Viola a 5-point lead.Delight answered with a bucket of their own, but Baumunk hit a free throw to keep the Longhorns out front by 4 points.Delight finished the quarter on an 8-3 run, with Batterton hitting three free throws to account for the Longhorns points. The Bulldogs finally got back out in front at the half, but it wouldn't last long.The Longhorns stampeded out of the gate in the second half, and ripped off 6 straight points. Oliver hit a turnaround jumper, putting the Longhorns up 29-28, and they would never trail again.Baumunk hit the jumper off the left side, then Derek "Old Man" Winter hit a pullup jumper off the right baseline, giving Viola a 33-28 lead.Delight hit back-to-back buckets to close to within 1, but Batterton's jumper in the lane and a trey from up top by Oliver pushed the Longhorns lead to half a dozen.Delight hit a bucket to stop the run, but Oliver came back with a leaner in the lane to negate the Bulldog basket, keeping Viola up by 6 points.Delight tried to pick up a little ground with a trey, but Baumunk answered with a deuce from the right side of the lane, keeping the Bulldogs on a short leash.The Bulldogs kept gnawing at the lead, and hit a trey to close to within 2, but back-to-back buckets by the Longhorns pooched the Pups for awhile. Oliver went backdoor for the short jumper, then Winter grabbed a rebound and stuck it back for 2, putting Viola up 46-40. A deuce to close the quarter by Delight made it a 4-point game, with only one quarter left in the game.Baumunk started the fourth quarter with a jumper off the right baseline to push the lead out to 6 points for the Longhorns, but then the Bulldogs took a bite out of the lead.Delight hit 6 straight points to knot the game at 48-all at the 4:28 mark, and it was a race to the finish.Winter broke through for the Longhorns with a jumper in the lane at the 3:34 mark, giving Viola the lead for good. The Longhorns tacked on a couple more points when "Batman" drove the lane and drew the defenders in, then dished off to Oliver cutting in from the side for the short jumper, putting Viola up 52-48.A bucket by the Bulldogs cut it back down to a 2- point game, but another play by Batterton and Oliver put the heat back on Delight.Batterton drove the lane once again, and the defenders bit on the driver, and Oliver got the no-look pass from "Batman" and the left-handed layin was good, giving the advantage to the Longhorns.A couple of charity tosses by Delight at the 1:19 mark would be their final score, but the Longhorns finished off with 5 more points to end the game. Baumunk hit a free throw, Oliver knocked down two, and Montgomery hit both ends of the one-and-one to finish off the game, giving the Viola Longhorns their first state championship since 1957. As far as Delight, you know what they say: "If you're not the lead dog in the pack, the scenery never changes."At the conclusion of the game, the All-Tournament team was announced, and Kyle "Boomer" Baumunk, "Big Jake" Oliver, and Justin "Batman" Batterton were selected to it, with Batterton being named MVP of the State Tournament.The Longhorns were paced by Justin Batterton with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Jake Oliver finished with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including one of two from 3-point range, and five rebounds. Kyle Baumunk ended the game with 10 points, seven rebounds, and a steal. Derek Winter tallied 6 points, four rebounds, and three assists. John Mark Montgomery hit for 4 points and eight big rebounds, and Dustin Jones finished with 4 points and five rebounds.