ICC Cougars headed to State Final again; Viola Lady Longhorns eliminated in semifinals

Wednesday, March 6, 2019
ICC’s Justus Cooper takes it to the basket for two. Photo/ Bob Mitchum

As anticipated, there was a full house at the Izard County Consolidated Gym on Saturday afternoon, March 2, to watch the ICC Cougars earn the Golden Ticket to return to the finals of the 1A State Basketball Tournament. Last year, the Guy-Perkins Thunderbirds defeated ICC by the score of 71-66 as Coach John Hutchcraft captured his 11th title in his final game as the coach of the Thunderbirds.

It was 11 years ago when Izard County won its last state title. Current head coach Kyle McCandlis was a player on the 2008 Cougar team that defeated Nevada 60-51 in the championship game. So, as it turned out on Saturday, the other team that emerged to earn the trip to Hot Springs is the Nevada Blue Jays.

ICC’s record entering the championship game is 41-4 overall and a perfect 16-0 conference record. ICC is currently ranked number 20 in the state. The Cougars losses were to currently number one ranked Marion, number six ranked North Little Rock, number seven ranked Conway, and number 26 ranked Westside (Jonesboro).

Viola’s Braidlyn Fierce pulls down a rebound. Photo/ Bob Mitchum

Nevada’s record entering the championship game is 33-4 overall and a 10-2 conference record. Nevada is currently ranked number 24 in the state. The Blue Jays losses were to number 39 ranked Dermott (twice), number 72 ranked Kirby and number 127 ranked Bauxite.

“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” which was the tagline for the ABC Television Network’s highly popular show, Wide World of Sports, in the 1970s, was evident during the tournament as various emotions were exhibited depending on whether a team was going to move forward or the realization that it would be the final game of the season.

In another sidelight, there was a very happy and proud Grandmother in the stands on Saturday. Her granddaughter, sophomore Abbey Linville (number 3), is a member of the Rural Special team that won a spot in the finals in Hot Springs, and her grandson, sophomore Chase Orf (number 4), for Izard County Consolidated will also be headed to Hot Springs for the finals. She was savoring the moment after the ICC game.

Dylan Tharp takes the three-point shot while being guarded. Photo/ Bob Mitchum

ICC Cougars vs. County Line Indians

The Cougars of Izard County Consolidated (ICC) met the County Line (Branch) Indians in a semifinal matchup to determine who would go to Hot Springs for the 1A Final. After a relatively close first quarter (ICC led 13 to 9 at the end of the quarter), the Cougars outscored the Indians 20 to 9 in the second quarter to lead 33 to 18 at half-time. ICC outscored County Line by four in the third quarter to expand the lead. The Cougars outscored the Indians by 10 in the fourth quarter for a 29-point victory (75-46).

The Cougars controlled the tip but didn’t score. Then, the Indians jumped out to a 5-0 lead which gave the County Line fans a reason to cheer. The Indians last lead in the game was 9-8 with about two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Unfortunately for County Line, Justus Cooper was active on the boards all day. Cooper brought down four defensive rebounds in the first quarter to warm up for his rebounding production in the second quarter. He also had a steal where the ball went out of bounds on an attempted fast break. Dylan Tharp fed Cooper on a three-point basket and again for a two-point jump shot. Coby Everett hit a three from the corner off a pass from Cooper and made a pair of free throws after being fouled while shooting. Caleb Faulkner quietened the County Line fans with a three from long range at the buzzer at the end of the first quarter. Keeler and Young were the main contributors in scoring for the Indians during the first quarter. The Cougars committed a pair of offensive fouls in the quarter.

Viola Lady Longhorns fight to retrieve the loose basketball. Photo/ Bob Mitchum

The Cougars warmed up in the second quarter and scored 20 points, while holding the Indians to nine points, the same they scored in the first quarter. Cooper denied the Indians several second shot attempts as he pulled down six defensive rebounds in the quarter. He got position on the Indians throughout the quarter. Cooper also scored a layup off a pass from Everett and a dunk off a pass from Dylan Tharp. Tharp had an offensive rebound, a layup and steal in the second quarter. Chase Orf had a layup off a pass from Everett and added a free throw as he was fouled shooting. Orf also had a steal and another layup off a pass from Cooper. He also pulled down a couple of defensive rebounds as the Cougars were dominate rebounding on defense. Everett contributed with a steal, an offensive rebound, a three from long range off a pass from Cooper, a layup off a pass from Orf and one of two free throws after being fouled while shooting. Keeler and Young again contributed most of the limited scoring for County Line in the quarter. The Cougars lead at half-time by the score of 33-18.

The third quarter was fairly competitive as ICC scored 19 and County Line scored 15; however, ICC stretched its lead by four and was on the verge of putting the game away. Cooper dominated on the offensive backboard in the third quarter with four rebounds with one resulting in a put back. Cooper also snared a pair of defensive rebounds, made a three from long range off a pass from Tharp and another dunk. Faulkner hit a long-range two, had an offensive rebound and made a free throw. Everett made a long-range three off a pass from Faulkner, hit a short jumper and pulled down a defensive rebound. Orf had a steal, a defensive rebound and a pair of offensive rebounds with the second one resulting in a put back at the third quarter buzzer. The Cougars led 52-33 at the end of the third quarter. Franklin was active for County Line in the third quarter as he contributed four free throws and a layup.

Faulkner really made his presence known in the fourth quarter as he had a steal, three free throws made, a pair of layups off passes from Everett, and a layup off a pass from Cooper. Everett had a pair of layups with one off a pass from Tharp and a free throw. Orf had an offensive rebound and a layup in the quarter. Dalton Dillard had a layup and a free throw as he was fouled shooting. Isaac Jones had a layup with about a minute remaining in the game. Young contributed most of the Indians production in the fourth quarter. With a final score of 75-46, the Cougars are on their way to the 1A State Final to meet Nevada on Friday.

C. Everett led in points with 23, Cooper added 21 points, Faulkner had 14 points, Orf added 10 points, Dillard had three points and Tharp and Jones both added two points a piece.

ICC Cougars vs. Dermott Rams

After defeating Jasper by the score of 87-36 in the opening game of the 1A State Tournament, the ICC Cougars moved on to face the Dermott Rams.

The score remained close during the first half with Dermott taking the lead a couple of times. The Cougars lead by two at the end of the first quarter and only managed to extend the lead to five at the half (46-41). Coby Everett and Justus Cooper provided the bulk of the offense in the first quarter for the Cougars. Everett hit a long-range three off a pass from Cooper, back-to-back long-range threes, a three off a pass from Chase Orf and a layup off a pass from Caleb Faulkner. Cooper made a dunk off a steal, another dunk after a feed from Faulkner, a put back from an offensive rebound, another offensive rebound, a defensive rebound and a pair of free throws. Faulkner had a pair of defensive rebounds and put back after an offensive rebound. Dylan Tharp had an offensive rebound, a steal and a layup.

Cooper continued his rebounding in the second quarter pulling down four defensive rebounds and one off the offensive board. He made a layup in the quarter. Everett went to the free throw line a number of times in the quarter hitting six. He also converted a steal into a layup. Faulkner had a pair of steals and a defensive rebound. Chase Orf brought down a couple of defensive rebounds, made a tough layup and another layup in the quarter.

ICC held a slim lead, 46-41 at the half.

The Cougars had a much-needed strong third quarter. Faulkner drilled a three-pointer in the quarter. Everett made a layup off a pass from Cooper, another one off a pass from Orf and another layup and a pair of free throws. Cooper opened the half with a layup off a pass from Everett. Cooper also made a layup off an inbound pass and a three from long range and contributed some rebounds. Tharp had a defensive rebound, a steal and a layup.

ICC extended the lead to 15 points at the end of the third quarter (68-53).

Everett added a layup off a pass from Cooper and a two on a put back. Everett would finish the night with 42 points. Cooper, Orf and Tharp had multiple defensive rebounds as the Cougars were grabbing most of the rebounds that came available. Cooper would finish the game with 27 points. Brown contributed to the Rams scoring in the fourth. At the final buzzer, ICC had prevailed by the score of 92-71 and were headed to the semifinals to meet County Line.

C. Everett led the Cougars with 42 points and adding 27 points was Cooper.

Viola Lady Longhorns vs. Wonderview Daredevils

The Viola Lady Longhorns met the Wonderview Daredevils in state tournament action to determine who would advance to the semifinals. In October, the Lady Longhorns defeated Wonderview in tournament action at Mountain View by the score of 75-59. Last year, the Daredevils defeated Mt. Vernon-Enola by the score of 56-40 to win the 1A State Championship.

The Lady Longhorns finished the season with a 34-8 record and a 12-2 conference record. The team should have most of the players back next year as there are only two seniors on the team. For the starting lineup most of the season, three of them will be seniors and two will be juniors next year.

The first quarter saw Wonderview take a five-point lead, and the Daredevils never trailed from that point. With 3:25 remaining in the first quarter, Viola led 9-5. At the 1:41 mark, Wonderview regained the lead for good 11-9. Lady Longhorn Madison Sellars was injured during the first half and didn’t reappear until the second half where she played some. Sellars had been a major contributor in the earlier victory in the tournament over Kingston by scoring 17 points.

In early action, Sellars made a drive for two points, had a steal and a defensive rebound. Braidlyn Fierce provided much of the offense in the first quarter with a layup off a pass from Samantha McCandlis, a layup on a feed from Sellars and a put back after an offensive rebound.

In the second quarter, the Lady Longhorns held the Daredevils to nine points in the second quarter, however, they only managed to score six as the lead was extended from five to eight at the half (25-17). Keyaira Moore provided four points for Viola with a two-point jump shot and two free throws. Lindsey Browning made a layup off a pass from Sellars.

In the third quarter, the Daredevils doubled the Lady Longhorns in scoring, 14-7. Fierce had three defensive rebounds and a layup off a pass from McCandlis in the third. Sellers picked up her fourth foul early in the quarter. McCandlis made a three and Browning had a layup.

Seven appears to be the number for the second half as Wonderview outscored Viola by seven in both the third and fourth quarters. Fierce scored a put back after grabbing an offensive rebound and a layup. Browning made a pair of free throws and Moore had a two-point basket and a pair of free throws. Sellars fouled out. In an attempt to extend the game, Viola began fouling, and Wonderview made eight free throws down the stretch with. With Wonderview winning by a score of 59-37, the Daredevils move on to meet Rural Special in the 1A Final in Hot Springs.

Browning led in scoring with 13 points, Fierce put in 12 points, Moore added seven, McCandlis had three points and Sellars added two points.

Viola Lady Longhorns vs. Kingston Lady Yellowjackets

The Viola Lady Longhorns met the Kingston Lady Yellowjackets in 1A State Tournament action at ICC on Thursday. Featuring a balanced scoring attack, the Lady Longhorns prevailed by a score of 69-34.

Samantha McCandlis and Madison Sellars were active in the first quarter as the Lady Longhorns sprinted to an eleven-point lead 22-11. Among her first quarter production, McCandlis had a steal, a three, a layup, a pair of threes from long-range and a couple of defensive rebounds. Sellars had a layup off a pass from McCandlis, a drive and layup, a steal, a left-handed layup, a defensive rebound and forced a jump ball. Hannah Johnson provided much of the Lady Yellowjackets offense in the first quarter by hitting threes.

In the second quarter, the Lady Longhorns scored 30 points to basically seal the win. The score was 52-16 at the half. Keyaira Moore, Sellars, Braidlyn Fierce, Lindsey Browning and McCandlis all had an active quarter. Among the quarter’s activity: Moore had a pair of threes, defensive rebounds, a block and a steal. Sellars scored on an inbound pass from McCandlis, a layup, a good drive, and a tough shot for two. Fierce scored on layups. Browning was providing opportunities by grabbing four defensive rebounds, an offensive rebound and a steal. McCandlis had a steal, a layup, some defensive rebounds and created a jump ball.

Sellars had a number of rebounds in the third and McCandlis had a pair of steals. The “Mercy Rule” was applied in the fourth quarter. Kingston managed to outscore Viola 7-3 in the quarter.

McCandlis led with 18 points, Sellars had 17 points, Moore added 16 points, Fierce put in eight points, Browning had seven points and Ivey added three points.

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