Less than a week after playing deep into the brackets of the Williams Baptist College Tournament in Walnut Ridge, Viola's hardwood hoopsters were at it again, with both the Longhorns and Lady Longhorns earning berths in the semi-final round of the Lyon College High School Tournament at Becknell Gymnasium in Batesville.
Unfortunately for Horns' fans, this is where Viola's trip ended, with the Lady Horns getting nipped at the buzzer, 43-41 by Heber Springs, while the Longhorns suffered through a cold shooting fourth period en route to a 58-48 loss to Highland.
In girls' semi-finals action, fifth-seeded Viola battled top-seeded Heber Springs hard in an attempt to keep the Lady Panthers from earning their third straight trip to the Lyon College finals.
After slugging it out the whole way with Heber Springs Dec. 10, Viola was dealt a heartbreaking loss as the Lady Panthers' Lindsey Rieck popped a baseline jumper at the buzzer to break a 41-all tie, giving Heber Springs a two-point victory over the Lady Longhorns.
Lindsey Barker paced the Lady Longhorns with 11 points.
Meeting for the second time on the year, the Longhorns, seeded fifth in the boys' division, were looking for a chance to even the score with the Highland Rebels, the tourney's top seed, in the semi-finals Dec. 10. The Rebs had beaten Viola at the Longhorn Corral 71-54 late last month.
After both squads went toe-to-toe for three periods, a sluggish fourth period proved to be Viola's demise, as the Rebs knocked the Horns out of the tourney with a 10-point loss.
Trailing by only two, 46-44 after three, Viola could manage only a pair of free throws and one field goal in the final frame, with Highland outscoring the Longhorns 12-4 down the stretch for the win.
The first half looked like a game of Horse from behind the arc, as each team drained 3-pointers at will, five in the first two periods of play for Viola, and four for the Rebels.
Ryan Walker (11 points) had a big first period for the Longhorns, tossing in five points in the frame.
The frame ended with three straight treys, one by Jeremy Hansen for Highland, followed by one from Kaleb West (10 points) for the Horns, and ending with a triple from Dylan Patterson that staked Highland to a 17-12 lead after one.
It was Kevin Painter's (11 points) turn in the second period.
Painter jacked back-to-back 3-balls, keeping Viola around, trailing 22-20.
This two-point margin for Highland stood at the half, with the Rebs up 33-31.
Viola overcame this lead at the 1:15 point of the third on a triple from Painter, moving the Horns in front 44-43.
This also proved to be the last time Viola controlled the game, as the Rebels closed the frame with three points to take a 46-44 advantage into the fourth.
In the last eight minutes of play, All-Tournament Team member Cory Batterton (four points) connected on a layup, and Cody Hutson (nine points) sank a couple of free throws for Viola's only points of the frame. Highland closed the book on the game with eight unanswered points to advance to the finals.
In quarterfinal action on the girls' side, the Lady Horns knocked off Greers Ferry-Westside 41-38 Dec. 9 behind 18 points from Kyla Batterton. Batterton was named to the All-Tournament team for her play. Jamie Daily added 13 for Viola.
The Longhorns made it to the semi-finals by dispatching the Cave City Cavemen 58-48 Dec. 9.
West led the Longhorn effort with 17 points, and Painter added 12 for Viola.