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Monday, May 2, 2016

Brutal schedule leaves Cougs battle tested

Friday, March 14, 2008

When Izard County Head Coach David Harmon said after a season-ending loss to Fayetteville Christian in the quarterfinals of last season's Class 1A State Tournament in Clinton, that he felt his team would be back to take things a step further this year, he was right on the money.

And not only did Izard County take things a step further, the Cougars didn't stop stepping until they had reached the pinnacle, winning the Class 1A State Tournament at Summit Arena in Hot Springs.

Along the way to the top, the Cougars racked up 35 wins and another undefeated conference championship, along with their second straight tournament titles in the County, District and Regional Tournaments.

And here's the real kicker: Izard County never lost to a single Class 1A foe this year. And they successfully defended their home turf in 2007, racking up an unblemished record (13-0) at the Cougars' Den in Brockwell, all while playing another brutal schedule.

The Cougars' first setback of the season came at the hands of the 4A Mountain View Yellowjackets, a 77-51 loss on Nov. 16.

Two weeks later, Cave City, a Class 3A team, gave Izard County its second loss of the year, 56-46, at the new gymnasium in Cave City.

Then came a couple of losses in the semi-final round of two of the area's biggest tournaments.

The Cedar Ridge Timberwolves, then ranked number one in Class 2A edged Izard County 43-42 Dec. 27 in an overtime thriller in the semis of the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament at the Convocation Center on the campus of Arkansas State University.

The Cougars were handed another heart-breaking one-point loss, 53-52, to the Class 3A Corning Bobcats in the semifinals of the George Kell Classic in Swifton Jan. 11.

The last two losses of the year for Izard County were to a pair of 3-4A rivals, the Pocahontas Redskins and the Highland Rebels.

Izard County already owned one victory over the Pocahontas Redskins this season, a game it won at the buzzer, when the two hooked up for round number two Jan. 4. Pocahontas came away from that contest with an 81-74 win over the Cougars.

And the last team to pin a loss on Izard County this season was the Highland Rebels.

Just a scant couple of days after a deadly tornado ripped through Izard and Sharp County, the two teams played at John A. Cooper Gymnasium in Highland, with the Rebs coming out on top 81-74.

After that, the Cougars focused on the real prize -- the postseason.

And that focus did not waver until the Cougars had added the school's first-ever state championship trophy to its ever-growing collection. That new hardware should fit nicely with the ones that Violet Hill, which was consolidated with Oxford to form Izard County, won in 1983 and 1939.

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