Two games, two victories. That is what the Viola Longhorns accomplished by knocking off Izard County 47-40 on Jan. 18.
Senior guard Brandyn Batterton started a dominant first quarter for the Horns on the first possession of the game with a three pointer. Senior guard Alvin Baltzell was next for the Horns to hit a three.
At the 5:43 mark, the game clock was stopped when Izard County's Trenton Hatman drove the lane. Baltzell got position and took a charge from Hatman, but Viola's senior guard didn't get up. When Hatman collided with him, Baltzell's head smacked the hardwood court and took the breath out of the entire crowd. He was able to return later in the game, and played a key role in helping Viola pick up the win.
When play resumed, Baltzell had been replaced by senior guard Chris Shaffer. On the next trip down the court, Viola senior Austin Gardner hit a three to make the score 9-0. Junior Devin Brown hit a jumper for Viola to give the Horns an 11 point lead, but ICC's Chris Mosley hit a lay-up on the next trip down court to get the Cougars on the scoreboard with 3:11 left in the first quarter.
Near the end of the first quarter, Baltzell returned to the game and wasted little time making sure the Cougars knew he was back at 100 percent, hitting a floater on his first play back to make the score 15-3 going into the second quarter.
With 5:30 left in the second quarter, Hatman took advantage of a fast break and put in a lay-up for his first two points of the game. Hatman finished with 13 points. On Dec. 14, Hatman finished a game against Viola with 38 points.
At the end of the first half, the Longhorns held a 20-9 lead. At halftime, Viola senior Quentin Houghtaling had eight rebounds.
The Cougars proved they had some fight left in the third quarter by outscoring Viola 15-8. Hatman got an offensive rebound and passed off to senior Chris King early in the quarter for the first basket of the half.
With 5:24 left in the quarter, the Cougars had pulled to within five, 20-15.
At the end of the third quarter, Viola led 28-24, but ICC was closing the gap.
Shaffer opened the scoring in the final period by splitting a double team and driving in for a lay-up to make the lead six points. Hatman answered back with a deep jumper to make the score 30-26.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Longhorns had claimed a 47-40 victory, led by Shaffer with 12 points and six rebounds, Gardner with ten points and five rebounds and Houghtaling with six points and a game high 14 rebounds.
Six of Shaffer's points came at the free throw line in the fourth quarter, and all six of Houghtaling's points came in the final stanza.
Hatman had 13 points and four rebounds for the Cougars. King added eight points and eight rebounds to the cause.
Viola head coach Bruce Adams said winning the NACC Tournament on Jan. 12 gave the team a confidence boost.
"It gives us confidence to know what we're capable of doing. These are things I've been telling them we can do all year, but now they realize, if they put the effort out, they can. There were a lot of good teams, that's a tough tournament. When we do what we're capable of, we can beat anyone we go up against," Adams said.
Adams also said he thinks it was a hard fought win over the Cougars.
"They've got a good bunch of kids. It's going to be a battle with them every time we play. Last time we played them, it was a high-scoring affair, and tonight was one that we had to grind out and find a way to win. The final margin was pretty similar both games, just a different type of game," Adams said.
He also joked, "I guess they just did a better job defensively than the first time and so did we."