Matter of fact, this year's edition of Viola Lady Longhorns looked and acted every bit like a program that was primed to make a hard run at a state title, their first since they won state championships twice in a three-year span from 1959-61.
And although they didn't make it all the way to Hot Springs, the Lady Horns did play their way to a berth in the Class 1A Final Four, where they were pitted opposite the defending state champions from Kingston.
In the end, the Lady Yellowjackets (33-7) were granted an opportunity to defend their state title, as Kingston edged past Viola (28-5) 44-37 March 7 at West Side Greers Ferry High School.
The game was probably closer than the final seven-point margin would indicate and Kingston gave Viola ample chance at a late rally, thanks to some seriously shaky free throw shooting from the Lady Yellowjackets in the game's last two minutes.
With Kingston on top 41-34, the Lady Yellowjackets missed the front end of three straight one-and-ones.
Taylor Griggs (10 points) hit a charity toss with 1:14 left to pull Viola within six, 41-35.
Then, Kingston's Lindsay Davis missed two from the free throw stripe, leaving the Lady Horns with some more wiggle room.
Leslie Barker broke free for a bucket with 50 ticks left, cutting Kingston's lead to 41-37. Barker led Viola with 14 points in the game.
That turned out to be the Lady Longhorns' last points in the game, but the Lady Yellowjackets continued to struggle from the line, going three-for-six in the last 47 seconds of action.
However, despite going a poor three-for-11 from the free throw line down the stretch, Kingston still hung on for a 44-37 victory.
The Lady Yellowjackets did knock down a flurry of big 3-pointers in the second half.
With Kingston up 26-25 late in the third, Lori Fancher and Kara Edgmon connected on back-to-back treys to push the Lady Yellowjackets ahead 32-25 after three.
Kingston's first two hoops of the fourth were also treys, opening up a 10-point margin, the biggest lead for either side on the night.
Kingston hit a pair from beyond the 3-point arc in the first period, but Heather Simmons (six points) and Barker knocked down two of their own to help the Lady Longhorns in front 12-10 after one.
Brooke Poole hit back-to-back 3s in the second for Kingston, but Barker closed the book on the first half with her second trey to pull Viola within one, 20-19, at intermission.