The Viola Longhorns traveled to Mammoth Spring for their first showdown of the season with the Bears. Despite the hectic, senior night environment, the Longhorns escaped with a 48-37 win over the struggling Bears.
After a tightly contested first quarter, the Bears held a 12-10 lead, but the Horns had no intention of going away. Mammoth had the lead even without star senior Matt Turnbough who was out with the flu, and without head coach Matt Ragsdale who was serving a one game suspension after being ejected from a game against Hillcrest three days earlier.
The Longhorns outscored the Bears 13-4 in the second quarter and took a 25-16 lead into the locker room. Viola's senior forward Austin Gardner was big for the Horns in the first half with ten points and two assists. Viola senior guard Chris Shaffer led all players with five rebounds in the first half, including three offensive rebounds.
Colin Powell led Mammoth in scoring in the first half with six points.
After three quarters the Longhorns seemingly had Mammoth Spring right where they wanted it. The Horns led 35-24 after three periods, but their lead wasn't as secure as they may have thought.
With just over five minutes left in the game, the Horns led 36-26, but, when Powell ran into Viola senior Austin Baltzell, the lead was suddenly in danger. When Powell collided with Baltzell, Austin hit the ground hard. What seemed at first to be a head injury left him laying on the ground for several minutes. The injury is now thought to only be a severely bruised tailbone, but his x-ray's are being evaluated.
"Best case scenario, he's out for a couple weeks. Worst case scenario, he's done for the year," Viola head coach Bruce Adams explained.
With 3:32 left in the game, Viola's offense had gone cold. Meanwhile, Mammoth Spring was heating up, and the crowd was getting involved, and the score was 36-32 after Mammoth sophomore Cody Green hit back to back lay-ups.
Just as quickly as Mammoth had gained momentum, Gardner stole it back. After a missed free throw, Gardner grabbed the rebound and was off into the open court. Gardner elevated and threw down a one handed tomahawk dunk to end the run and put Viola up 38-32.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Horns had gotten out of Dodge with a 48-37 conference win, led by Gardner with 18 points, three assists and two rebounds. Viola senior Quentin Houghtaling added 12 points, five rebounds and one blocked shot.
Powell led Mammoth with 12 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Green added eight points, and Mammoth junior Ryan Roberson had six points and four rebounds for the Bears.
"Getting a win on the road is big in our conference anytime you take the floor. We're tickled to death to get a road win no matter what it takes or what the score is," Adams said.
The Lady Longhorns also got a win at Mammoth by beating the Lady Bears 73-56. Viola's girls have only lost two conference games this season.