Viola coaches look to finish season strong
Jason Hughes is the coach of the Lady Longhorns currently ranked fourth in the state behind conference rival Norfork currently ranked first in the state, second ranked Wonderview and third ranked Mt. Vernon-Enola.
The Lady Longhorns have an overall 31-6 record and a conference record of 12-2, with both conference losses to number one ranked Norfork. Viola received a conference bye and automatically qualified for the regional tournament. Early in the season, the Lady Longhorns defeated number two ranked Wonderview, 75-59 at Mountain View. Other losses included a December loss to higher classification Highland, at the Lyon College Tournament, an overtime loss to Marmaduke in the NEA Tournament semi-finals and a January loss to a highly-ranked Thayer, Mo. team.
Recent tournament action saw the Lady Longhorns defeat the Calico Rock Lady Pirates 48-36 on Feb. 15 in district tournament action and lose to Norfork 67-59 on Feb. 16. Lady Longhorns are scheduled for action Feb. 21 against Hillcrest.
Coach Hughes had the following comments to make about the Lady Longhorns and the season to date.
He said the team was about where they hoped to be going into postseason and that being conference runners-up was an accomplishment. It is considered important to have a bye to the semifinals of the district tournament and an automatic bid to the regional tournament. Coach Hughes believes finishing in the top two was very important for postseason play, and one of the team’s goals was to finish in the top two, and the team has accomplished that.
He went on to say that now starts the second part of season, which is tournament play, and the Lady Longhorns are positioned well for postseason. He commented the girls have played well.
Coach Hughes continued by stating the team had some good showing in invitational tournaments and have hopes to carry that momentum over into the postseason.
The Lady Longhorns had a loss at Thayer, which is in the top two or three teams in its classification in Missouri. This was in the finals of the Thayer Winter Classic Tournament. Thayer beat Melbourne and Jonesboro during the season. Coach Hughes went on to say that Thayer took the Lady Longhorns out of their game plan.
The team’s focus, this time of year, is to win next game. It doesn’t do any good to look any further.
Additionally, Coach Hughes said you can’t worry about what other conferences are doing at this point. You need to focus on the next opponent and don’t worry about games that might not even happen.
The team will remain “fundamentals oriented”.
He concluded the team is fortunate and happy to have another two weeks ahead of them.
Coach Skip Dulaney is in his first season with the Viola Longhorns. He has a total of 27 years in coaching, most recently spending four years at Forrest City and nine years before that at Trumann.
Currently, the Longhorns are overall 20-15 and finished with a conference record of 10-6. The team is ranked 21st in 1A in the state. The Longhorns are in a conference with the number one ranked team in the state, Izard County Consolidated Cougars and Calico Rock Pirates, the number seven ranked team in the state.
Recent action included a 63-61 win over Omaha on Feb. 12 in playoff action and lost to Izard County Consolidated 94-57 on Feb. 15 in tournament action.
Coach Dulaney had the following comments about the season and the postseason outlook.
He commented the Longhorns only have eight players on a very young team right now. The team consists of two seniors, two juniors and four sophomores.
The two leading scorers for the team are sophomores Harris, with around 22 points per game, and Marberry, scoring 15. Coach starts three sophomores, a junior and senior at moment—a very young lineup. An upside is there should be a lot of experience coming back next year. Five ninth-graders have been moved up for postseason action. One of those played five or six minutes the other night against Omaha as the Longhorns qualified for the regional tournament by beating Omaha.
Coach Dulaney indicated the team had played a very tough schedule, and he was very proud of where they are considering the level of inexperience. He commented they had beaten Wynne (5A) and have played several bigger schools and have beaten several 2A and 3A in non-conference play.
The Longhorns are not very big, are young, and “hang their hats” on effort and teamwork. Coach stated the team is “probably as healthy as it has been all year. The coach and players are excited about the opportunity to go forward in postseason.
The plan is to “take it one game at a time and try to get ready for each opponent up next”.
Obviously, Izard County Consolidated has been a challenge for the Longhorns and have beaten the Longhorns twice by around 30 points each time.
The Longhorns have already played a couple of teams from the other conference, and the coach has seen all of them during the course of the season.
The Longhorns qualified for the regionals by upsetting Omaha. Omaha had beaten Viola twice previously.
Coach concluded he was proud of the players’ effort, and that everyone is playing together and playing as a team. He added, “Effort has been tremendous since day one.”