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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cougs maintain pace in front of race

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Preston Harmon drives to the basket while Viola's Austin Gardner defends in Izard County's 49-47 victory over the Longhorns Dec. 16 at the Cougars' Den. Photo/Mullins [Order this photo]
He may not have had the big point total on the night, scoring just eight for the game.

But while he didn't lead Izard County in scoring, it's hard to imagine senior point guard Preston Harmon having any bigger impact for the Cougars then what he had in the last eight minutes of action against the visiting Viola Longhorns Dec. 16 at the Cougars' Den in a key 1A-2 North battle.

Harmon's clutch effort down the stretch helped Izard County (15-3) remain atop the conference standing at a perfect 8-0 with a hard-fought 49-47 victory over the Longhorns (13-6, 5-2).

Earlier in the evening, the Lady Longhorns kept their bid for a conference title alive with a 55-25 win over the Lady Cougars.

In the boys' tilt, as should have been expected, things were not settled until the waning seconds of the ball game.

With a shade under two-and-a-half minutes left in the game, a free throw from Dolan Johnston (three points) gave the Horns a 47-44 lead.

Next time down court for Izard County, Kyle King hit the front end of two free throw attempts. The second charity shot was off target, but King (12 points) managed to come up with the ball and stick it back in the bucket, locking the score at 47-all.

The teams traded a pair of turnovers late, making the game a one-possession, winner-take-all match.

With the Cougars in control of the basketball, and three seconds on the clock, Harmon found a wide-open Jake Dockins (11 points) in the lane and hit him with a pinpoint pass. Dockins turned and tossed the ball in the hoop, giving Izard County a 49-47 lead.

Viola's last-gasp shot at the buzzer from just inside the half court mark missed, leaving the Cougars with a thrilling two-point victory.

The Longhorns took a 40-35 lead early in the fourth on a hoop from Devin Brown (14 points), but then Harmon (six assists), who had not scored a point up to that point, got rolling.

He hit back-to-back layups and then knocked down four big free throws, to help the Cougars catch back up to Viola.

Trenton Hatman tossed in eight of his team-high 13 points in the first period to help Izard County to a 14-13 advantage after one. Quentin Houghtaling (13 points) responded with seven points for Viola in the first stanza.

Viola managed to climb on top in the second, thanks largely to a pair of triples from Austin Gardner (15 points).

Two free throws from Brandyn Batterton with four seconds left in the first half helped the Longhorns to a 28-25 halftime lead.

Izard County climbed back in front early in the third, but Viola used an 8-0 run deep in the frame to ease in front 38-35 after three.

Chris King finished with three points for Izard County, while Cody Faulkner had two.

In the girls' game, Michaela Thompson knocked down a game-high 20 points, while Kiersten Moore added 13 and Hannah Duvall 12, to help Viola to a 55-25 road-win.

The Lady Longhorns led 21-8 at the end of the first period and 30-17 at the half.

Izard County managed just four points in the third period -- a free throw from Makayla Gross (six points) and a 3-ball by Paxton Washington -- and trailed 45-21 heading into the final frame.

Leslie Shrable tallied nine points for the Lady Longhorns, while Karlee Dockins had one.

Ashton Simino led the Lady Cougars with nine points, with Hannah Doty adding five and Kaydie Campbell two.

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