Taking control of the game when it mattered the most, the Lady Horns knocked off the Hillcrest Screamin' Lady Eagles 40-22 in the third-place game of the 1A Region 2 Tournament Feb. 25 at the Cougars' Den in Brockwell.
With the victory, Viola (35-5), the state's third-ranked Class 1A squad, earned a spot in this week's Class 1A State Tournament in Magnolia.
Both teams got off to a slow start, thanks to ice-cold shooting paired with several unforced turnovers.
Hillcrest scored the first two buckets of the game and the Lady Horns didn't advance the scoreboard until there was only 1:44 left in the first, giving the Screamin' Lady Eagles a 4-2 lead after one.
Viola used some steady free throw shooting, along with a big effort from Kiersten Moore, to pull in front in the second period.
Moore tossed in eight of her game-high 15 points in the second, despite taking a couple of hard spills onto the hardwood in the frame.
The Lady Horns went nine-for-10 from the charity stripe in the second to take a 17-9 lead into intermission. Hillcrest managed just four field goals in the first half, while Viola also converted four in the first half, the last one coming on a putback at the buzzer from Michaela Thompson (11 points).
Both Thompson and Moore were named to the All-Tournament squad.
Viola was able to shake out of its doldrums in the second half, while for the most part, Hillcrest (20-16) was not so fortunate.
Leslie Shrable (seven points) canned a big trey early in the third for the Lady Longhorns, while Thompson racked up a couple of buckets in the paint, helping Viola to a 29-15 cushion heading into the final stanza.
The Screamin' Lady Eagles did knock a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth, but it was not enough to keep the Lady Longhorns from earning a trip to the state tournament.
Hannah Duvall finished with four points for Viola, while Karlee Dockins posted one point.
Mackenzie Nunnally paced Hillcrest with 10 points.
In the semi-final round Feb. 24, Viola was an upset victim at the hands of the Weiner Lady Cardinals.
With two seconds left in overtime, Weiner's Peyton Craft slid free for a hoop in the paint, giving the Lady Cardinals a 60-59 win over Viola.
Weiner closed the game on an 8-2 to seal the deal.
The Lady Longhorns led 16-8 after one and 29-16 at intermission, before the Lady Cardinals rallied in the second half of play, catching up with Viola and eventually sending the contest into an extra frame.
Thompson scored 22 points for the Lady Longhorns, while Moore had 16 and Shrable 11. Hannah Duvall added eight and Dockins two.
The Lady Horns advanced to the semi-final round with a 42-23 victory over Armorel Feb. 22.
Viola led 16-11 after the first period.
Scoring just three points in the second, the Lady Tigers found themselves down 25-14 at the half.
Viola continued to stay in front, leading 31-18 after three. Using a 9-0 burst in the fourth, the Lady Longhorns put the game on ice.
Moore tossed in a game-high 18 points for Viola.
Thompson added 16, while Shrable and Samantha Griggs had three points apiece.
Dockins finished with two.