Even relegated to the fifth seed, Highland looked like the team to beat after dismantling Pocahontas 64-46 in the opening round on Dec. 22.
Although they led for most of the game, the Lady Rebels needed overtime to beat the Westside Lady Warriors 45-44 on Dec. 29.
Number three Nettleton trounced Trumann 78-39 and Valley View 69-59 to get to the championship game.
The Lady Rebels led nearly the entire game, but would be denied the trophy, losing 48-43 on Dec. 30.
With Alison Price out for the Westside and Nettleton games, Kaitlin Scribner did an admirable job running the team, especially against the Lady Raiders' full court press.
5A Nettleton did not shoot very well in the first quarter, but Andi Watson was able to steal the ball three times from Highland, but a couple fouls forced her to sit.
This gave Alex Isaacs a chance to knock down three short jumpers and give the Lady Rebs a 10-7 lead.
The Lady Raider shooting did not improve in the second period, and Highland was able to extend its lead to 17-13.
The third quarter saw two ties and four lead changes, but seven of eight from the free throw line to finish the period gave Highland a slim 30-27 advantage.
The Lady Rebels started the final quarter scoring on the first five possessions, but they couldn't keep up with Lonna Baker as she bomb three 3-pointers early in the quarter to tie the score.
Baker went on to score 17 points to finish the game.
Highland took its last lead at 43 on a Scribner bucket with less than a minute to go and didn't score again.
Without Price, they were not able to hit a single 3-point shot in the game.
Scribner led the Lady Rebs with 17 points followed by Isaacs 10 and Whitney Davis 8.
In the second round, Highland needed an extra four minutes to dispatch conference foe Westside from the NEA tournament.
The Lady Rebs held a 14-11 first quarter lead with Scribner's six points and Ginny Long's five.
Kristen Ellis' six second-quarter points extended Highland lead to 27-21.
Isaacs put the last of her five third-quarter points in at the buzzer to keep the Lady Rebels up 34-29.
Lady Warrior Taylor Cooper put Westside up 40-39 with two minutes left.
Long drained two free throws to give Highland the lead back, 41-40 and Meagan Williams was able to tie the game with her first free throw, but missed the second.
There was plenty of time left in the quarter, but neither team could score.
In overtime, Isaacs hit two charity shots and Davis drove the baseline for a layup with four seconds left to win the game.
Highland had three players in double figures -- Isaacs with 13, Scribner with 11 and Long 10.
The Lady Rebels surprisingly jumped out to a 16-4 first quarter lead against Pocahontas in the first round, and put more distance between them with a 17-9 third quarter.
Scribner led the team with 16 points, Kristina Langston had 11 and Price 10.