By DAVID MCCOLLUM
LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER
VILONIA — Vilonia’s senior girls worked themselves out of a third-quarter funk to mount a decisive fourth-quarter surge against Greenbrier on Tuesday night.
The two senior boys teams, mired at the bottom of the 5A West standings, went at each other like a title was at stake and threatened to play most of the evening.
Vilonia’s girls (17-1) outscored the Lady Panthers 17-2 in the fourth quarter to win going away, 46-28, to go to 5-0 in 5A West. The Lady Panthers, who had entered the game in second place, fell to 3-2 in conference.
The boys game was a shifting tide of major swings that went down the last shot. The Eagles finally pulled out a 51-48 overtime win.
In the girls game, the Lady Panthers outhustled and outrebounded the Lady Eagles and set themselves up well within striking distance at 29-26 after three quarters.
The Lady Eagles became more aggressive on defense and Greenbrier couldn’t buy a basket the fourth quarter, missing five straight shots to begin the quarter. Meanwhile, Vilonia adjusted its offense to the interior and hit three straight layups, including a three-point play by Audrey Moran to pull away. The Lady Eagles did not score a basket in the 17-point outburst that wasn’t directly underneath the goal.
"We get a lead the fourth quarter and we want layups or free throws," said Vilonia coach Alvin Riley. "We were flat-footed that third quarter and I don’t know why. We did things we don’t normally do and took shots we don’t normally take. Fortunately, we hit our stride the fourth quarter."
Moran led the Lady Eagles with 16 points. McKenzie Morrie added 12 and Ashlyn Hightower 10. Kenzie Batteron led the Lady Panthers with nine points while Aundrea Hardin and Autumn Russell added six each.
Vilonia guard Aaron Newell scored only five points but they were decisive in the game of runs. He hit a 3-pointer to give the Eagles a quick lead in overtime then hit two free throws with 21.3 seconds left to provide a late cushion.
After Hayden Weaver hit two free throws with 9.9 seconds left to give Vilonia a 51-48 lead, the Eagles had to watch a buzzer attempt by Malik Wright, who hit two free throws and a 3-pointer in the final 1:37 to help the send the game into overtime, bounce high off the rim. The ball lingered in the air for about a second, before finally falling awry, ending the game.
The Eagles had a 39-30 led with 4:05 left in regulation before the Panthers stormed back with a pressing defense and outside shooting by Wright and Jordan Wilcox.
Newell’s 3-pointer and driving basketball by Michael Atkinson gave the Eagles a quick seven-point lead in overtime and they held on with free throws.
Jacob Greer, Lucas Nicholson and Colton Johnson each scored 12 points for Vilonia while Atkinson had eight. Wilcox and Cole Dixon had 15 each for the Panthers.
(David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)