Talk about a trend reversal.
Going into the Class 1A Region 2 Tournament finals at Harold Ray Jeffery Gymnasium in Calico Rock Feb. 27, you could say that the host team and the Viola Lady Longhorns were very familiar with each other.
After all, the two 1A-2 North foes had faced each other three times on the year. And although the Lady Pirates had won all three meetings, Viola had managed to edge closer with each outing.
But not in the regional finals.
Taylor Cox ripped off the first nine points of the game and Calico Rock (29-7) didn't stop until it had bested the Lady Longhorns (28-10) 54-28, the Lady Pirates' most lop-sided win over Viola this season.
Both squads advanced to the Class 1A State Tournament a Hillcrest High School in Lynn.
Calico Rock, ranked number four in girls' Class 1A hoops, led 17-3 after the first period and 30-9 at intermission.
Cox's 21 points led all scorers in the regional finals. Emily Johnson added 14 and Sloan Lively had eight for Calico Rock. Brooke McCurley logged six points and Brittany Fountain finished with two.
Dedra Johnston paced Viola with 11 points. Taylor Griggs and Michaela Thompson had six points each. Heather Simmons added three and Leslie Shrable hit for two points.
The Lady Pirates ripped the Black Rock Lady Zebras 74-41 in opening-round action Feb. 24.
Lively and Johnson led the way with 19 points each. Cox added 12 and McCurley had nine. Kaitlyn Fry had five, while Courtney Lester and Heather Parker added three points apiece. Fountain and Brandi DeLoach had two points each.
Calico Rock had to weather an inspired effort from the Hillcrest Lady Screamin' Eagles in the semi-final round Feb. 26.
Hillcrest's Tamara Evans missed a tough turnaround jumper with three ticks left on the clock and the Lady Pirates prevailed 51-50.
The Lady Pirates had built a 20-9 lead after the first period, but hillcrest kept clawing away and pulled within 28-24 at intermission.
Calico Rock took a 41-35 lead into the final frame before Hillcrest made one last push that ended up one point shy of the Lady Pirates.
Johnson racked up 21 for Calico Rock, with Cox adding 13 and McCurley nine. Lively had four, Fry had three and Mattie Jo Branscum one for Calico Rock.
In the semi-final round Feb. 26, the state's third-ranked Class 1A team, the Bay Lady Yellowjackets, just could not contend with Viola's inside game.
The Lady Horns broke open a tight game in the first half to upset Bay 53-38.
The Lady Longhorns led by as many as 17 points in the fourth period after the game was tied at 10-all after one and Viola had moved in front 25-17 at the half.
Leslie Barker tossed in 17 points for Viola, while Griggs followed with 14 and Thompson 10. Shrable finished with eight and Simmons four.
Powered by 22 points from Griggs and 19 from Thompson, the Lady Horns' inside game overwhelmed Armorel to the tune of a 56-43 victory in opening-round action Feb. 25.
Viola led 10-8 after one and 26-16 at the half.
Johnston finished with eight, Barker had five and Alex Duncan two for the Lady Longhorns.