Highland started the week with a challenging home game against the Couch Lady Indians, who are led by Highland graduate Cecil Meyer. It was a back-and-forth game that saw the Lady Rebs have the last real possession and come away with a 36-34 win on Feb. 16.
The Pocahontas Lady Redskins struggled against Highland in the two middle games after winning a one-point game early in the season, but the second-place Lady 'Skins gave the Lady Rebels all the wanted and more in the district championship game at Osceola on Feb. 20.
With senior Kristen Ellis, one of Highland's best defenders, on limited duty with a leg injury, Pocahontas was able to put up some points to lead most of the game, but the Lady Rebs recovered in time to take the trophy, 57-49.
Alex Isaacs dominated the semi-final game against Osceola on Feb. 18. Her 18 first-quarter points propelled Highland to an easy 65-43 victory.
Each step in the district, regional and state tournaments get tougher and tougher.
To give the team an idea of how tough the road can be, Lady Rebel Head Coach Harlan Davis recapped how tough the games were for his 2002 state championship team, "an overtime game with Gentry, a game with CAC when we didn't score a basket in the second half, an overtime game with Rivercrest and then the last-second shot against Ozark."
It looked like the Lady Rebels would jump on Pocahontas like they have in the previous two games.
However, down 7-2 to start the game, the Lady Redskins went on a 12-6 run to finish the first period up 14-13 to make the game tougher.
The two teams exchanged leads four times in the second, but Pokey finished strong. Alison Price completed the bucket-and-one to cut the halftime lead to 30-27.
Isaacs scored eight of her game-leading 19 points in the third to help Highland close the gap to 44-42.
Price opened the fourth with two free throws to tie the game.
Each team went on a turnover fest with four apiece.
It wasn't until Lady 'Skin Olivia Bell knocked down two free throws at the four-minute mark that this stopped. This was followed by a Price trey that gave Highland the lead for good.
"I think we did get a little frustrated when they got up on us, because we got off to a real good start and got up on them," said Davis. "You just hope kids are going to step and make plays, and we made a couple of plays and that was the difference."
Price, Isaacs, Kaitlin Scribner and Whitney Davis made 10-of-14 charity shots from that point to secure the game and the number one seed at the Heber Springs regional.
Price scored 18 points and Davis 10.
Feb. 16 was supposed to be a day of rest for the Lady Rebs, but the weather forced many games to be rescheduled, including the Couch game.
This year's Couch team was an excellent choice for the Highland team since the lady Indians came into the game with just one loss, against the West Plains Lady Zizzers.
"One of the best things about Couch is they've got a good nucleus of a team. They all understand their roles," explained Davis. "They're probably as close as a team can be to doing the things we do, like we do, as anybody we've played all year."
It was a struggle the entire way for each team. It was tied 8-all at the end of one and Couch led by one at the half, 15-14, and by one, 27-26, after three.The fourth quarter was more of the same as the game found itself tied at 34-all with less than 10 seconds, when Price scored her only bucket of the quarter to put the Lady Rebs up with less than two seconds to go.
"They've got good shooters. They've got a post player that did a good job rebounding. They didn't beat themselves," said Davis. "Just a matter that somebody had to make a play and Alison made a play at the end of that game."
Osceola scored four points to start the game and another two finish the first period. In the meantime, Price found Isaacs early and often in the paint for the easy bucket and a 22-6 first quarter lead.
The Lady Seminoles did better in the second, but the Lady Rebs were still able to extend their lead to 39-20.
Highland led 60-31 at the end of three. Isaacs scored 34 points for Highland and Ginnie Long put in seven.