To say that the Viola Lady Longhorns have been on one major roll since Christmas would be a huge understatement.
Since suffering a 41-27 setback to the Calico Rock Lady Pirates in the Lyon College Tournament Dec. 11, the Lady Horns have ripped off an amazing 13-game winning streak, a run of games that included a 45-44 victory over the aforementioned Lady Pirates in January.
And now, Viola, ranked third in Class 1A hoops, can add win number 14 to that streak.
But along with their 14th win in a row, more importantly, the Lady Longhorns can also claim another victory over Calico Rock and another district tournament title to their resume.
Clamping down on the Lady Pirates (25-6) in the second period, the Lady Longhorns (24-3) captured the 1A-2 North District Tournament title with a tight 34-32 victory over Calico Rock Feb. 21 at the Cougars' Den in Brockwell.
Viola earned a date with Crowley's Ridge Academy in the regional tournament at Bay, while Calico Rock was slated opposite the host team Lady Yellowjackets in the regional.
Viola led wire-to-wire in the championship game with Calico Rock, but the Lady Pirates put up one heck of a fight in the second half of play.
Down 21-12 at the half, Calico Rock opened the third with hoops from Hannah Wright (nine points) and Taylor Cox to stay close. Cox paced the Lady Pirates with 10 points.
Viola stopped this Lady Pirate up-rising with back-to-back buckets from Kristen Montgomery (three points) and Dedra Johnston, along with two charity tosses by Leslie Barker (five points) that pushed the Lady Longhorns in front 27-16. Those were Viola's only points in the third.
Calico Rock used the charity stripe to finish the third strong, as Wright hit two and Cox followed with four free throws to edge Calico Rock within five, 27-22, after three.
Viola turned the ball over a couple of times to start the final period and Emily Johnson hit a jumper for Calico Rock.
Taylor Griggs racked up Viola's first bucket of the fourth with 4:34 left to play, and it would be almost three-and-a-half minutes later before the Lady Horns would advance the scoreboard again.
The Lady Pirates took advantage of this lull and used a steal and layup by Miranda Jones, along with two free throws by Wright, to pull within a single point, 29-28.
Calico Rock had a chance to go on top, but couldn't get a shot to fall.
Viola stood in front 34-30 when Wright dropped in two charity tosses with seven ticks remaining in the game to once again edge the Lady Pirates within two, 34-32.
With an opportunity to pad its margin a bit more, Viola missed a free throw the next time down court, leaving Calico Rock with a glimmer of hope.
The Lady Pirates did get off a long shot at the buzzer, but it missed its mark, leaving Viola with a thrilling 34-32 victory over Calico Rock.
While the Lady Longhorns struggled to score in the second half, the first period as a different story.
Chasidy Hutson opened the game on fire by scoring seven of her team-high 13 points in the game's first eight minutes.
Viola led 10-7 after one.
Heather Simmons (five points) and Elisabeth Collins (four points) turned a pair of steals into two hoops early in the second as Viola continued to build its lead.
Brooke McCurley hit a 3-ball for the Lady Pirates in the second, and Kori Lamb (four points) got free for a layup late in the stanza, but Viola held a 21-12 advantage to intermission.
In the semi-final round Feb. 19, Viola pushed past the Mammoth Spring Lady Bears 35-23.
The Lady Bears led 13-6 early in the second period, but the Lady Horns rallied to pull within a point, 13-12, at the half.
Then in the third, it was all Viola.
The Lady Longhorns held Mammoth Spring (12-15) scoreless in the frame, while logging 15 points themselves, to go up 27-13 after three.
Hutson paved the way with a game-high 19 points for Viola.
Barker added seven and Collins finished with five points. Griggs and Montgomery logged two points apiece for the Lady Horns.
Mammoth Spring was led by Jessy Jo Vest's 13 points. Amy Young added six. Shelby Frey and Sierra Smoot had two points each for the Lady Bears. The Lady Bears also advanced to the regional round and a date with the Weiner Lady Cardinals.
The Lady Pirates earned a trip to the finals with a 73-59 victory over the Hillcrest Screamin' Lady Eagles.
Calico Rock led 13-10 after one, 28-21 at the half and 49-45 after three.
Wright and Cox scored 16 points each for the Lady Pirates, while Lamb added 12 and Brittany Fountain 10. Jones finished with seven, while Jennifer Tunnicliff and McCurley had four points each.
Emily Jenkins and Johnson posted two points each for Calico Rock.