This year's team won seven games going into the district tournament at Valley View.
Pocahontas and Newport swept them, while Highland (9-16) split with Trumann and Osceola, but those teams won't be attending the regional tournament.
That's the beauty of the district tournament, because the Highland Rebels will go to Heber Springs as the fourth seed.
The Lady Rebels (18-8) are used to having a first or second seed in the conference tournament and an automatic spot in the regional, but this year had to settle for fourth and needing a game to move on.
Kaitlin Scribner sank 27 points against Trumann to hold off the Lady Wildcats 60-35 on Feb. 16 to secure their spot in the regional.
The Lady Rebels fell to conference champion Valley View, 53-48, on Feb. 17.
Playing three straight days, the Rebels beat Newport, 53-43, on Feb. 15, pulled off the 66-62 upset of Osceola on Feb. 16 and then struggled against a well-rested Valley View team, falling 56-28 in the semi-finals on Feb. 17.
Against Newport and Osceola, the Rebs held the lead for eight straight quarters.
They jumped out to a 16-7 first quarter lead, and then kept the Seminoles at bay the rest of the night. Highland was able to force fouls throughout the game, going 24-of-36 from line, as opposed to Osceola's three-for-six.
Up just 42-36 going into the fourth, the Rebs had to withstand a furious Seminole attack that saw them sink five 3-pointers. Highland responded by limiting turnovers, driving to the basket and hitting free throws.
Rebel Coach Chad Arnhart explained his team's success against Osceola this season, "They get out and pressure us and our guys are good about taking the ball to the basket against pressure. That allows us to get to the basket and (Osceola) doesn't have the big guys that they used to have underneath and we're able to finish more."
Landon Strobbe and Donnie French led the team with 14 points each, followed by Brad Harris and Josh Honey, each with 13.
Using 50-percent shooting from the floor and 59-percent from the line, Highland got up on Newport 26-15 at halftime.
Getting home at midnight the night before, playing a third straight night of basketball away from home and going up against the conference's number two team -- a team that almost beat Westside in the championship game -- didn't leave much hope for Highland.
Valley View jumped on the leg-weary Rebels with a 27-5 first quarter. Seeing the writing on the wall, Arnhart used this opportunity to give his bench some district tournament experience.
Nicholson led the team with seven points.
"Our focus is we just need one more good effort and everybody hitting on all cylinders and we can go to the state tournament," said Arnhart.
Lady Rebel Head Coach Harlan Davis says it was an 11-minute period which includes the third and going a few minutes into the fourth, that sunk Highland's chances to play for another district championship.
With the halftime score at 18-all, Valley View came out like gang-busters, scoring 13 and holding the Lady Rebs to four in the third period. It wasn't until Kaitlin Scribner hit two free throws at the five-minute mark of the fourth that Highland started to play like it usually does.
"The kids may not like to hear it, but the bottom line is for 11 minutes the Valley View basketball team wanted it worse than we did," said Davis. "They were executing the offense with harder cuts, harder screens. They were going to the offensive boards."
With three minutes to go, Bobie Jo Cooper hit two 3-pointers, Whitney Davis one and Brooke Messer one -- right in a row -- to make the score 47-44, Valley View.
Messer hit another bucket, followed by Alex Isaacs' layup to keep it close, but the Lady Rebs missed shots on two of the last three possessions and turned it over on the third, while the Lady Blazers only hit three of their last seven free throws.
"Something snaps and something sparks you to where you play with the desire to get yourself back in it. We got ourselves back in it," explained Davis.
It looked like a Kaitlin Scribner shooting demonstration to start the Trumann game.
The senior hit four regular 3-pointers and an old-fashioned 3 to get Highland out to a 12-6 lead midway through the first.
Buckets by Kristina Langston and Cooper kept the Lady Rebs up 17-12.
In the second, Cooper, Scribner and Davis combined for five treys and a 23-6 quarter to put the game out of reach.
The Lady Rebel defense held the Lady Wildcats to 24 percent shooting from the floor.
Cooper and Langston contributed 10 points each for Highland.