VILONIA – Both Vilonia teams put on an offensive show in front of a partisan, raucous crowd at Eagles Coliseum in wins over rival Greenbrier on Tuesday night.
Freshman forward Austin Myers keyed a 13-2 first quarter run by burying three consecutive 3-pointers, and the Vilonia boys never looked back in their wire-to-wire 60-48 upset win over second place Greenbrier while sophomore guard Laney Mears scored 16 in the Vilonia girls 61-29 romp over the Lady Panthers.
While, the state-ranked Vilonia girls solidified their hold on the 5A West conference race with a scintillating 3-point assault during a dominating second quarter, their male counterparts came out swinging early to lead 9-3 midway through the first quarter following a driving lay-up by Caleb Barrow.
Mears buried a pair of 3-point baskets and then both Lauren Patterson and McKenzie Floyd added triples for the Lady Eagles, who broke open a close game early.
“It’s a great win in a great atmosphere because our crowd really came out to support us,” junior forward Austin Koonce said. “Austin (Myers) hit some great shots to get us going early.” Following Brandy Rottman's inside layup, Vilonia built an insurmountable 32-15 advantage and by the time the fourth quarter began, the Lady Eagle reserves were on full display.
Meanwhile, the Vilonia boys were only in danger once during the contest late in the second quarter as tempers flared briefly.
Greenbrier's Juwuan Clifton drove towards the basket on a breakaway layup, was fouled by Josh Albat and tumbled violently into a retaining wall.
Clifton quickly rose to his feet and he and Albat exchanged words before being separated and accessed double technicals.
The incident seemed to incite the Eagles, who used another 13-4 spurt to secure a 34-26 advantage with Koonce contributing a pair of buckets to spark Vilonia.
The state-ranked Lady Eagles (22-1, 11-0 5A West) used balanced scoring from Floyd and Rottman who each contributed nine points while Patterson added eight.
The third-place Vilonia boys placed a couple of starters in double figures with Myers scoring 11 points with Koonce and Albat tallying ten each as the Eagles won their fourth consecutive game to remain in the mix for the state tournament.
The win resuscitates the Eagles state playoff run with three pivotal games still in front of them – two road games against Little Rock Christian and Russellville followed by their home finale with Siloam Springs to wrap up the regular season.
“This may have been the biggest win of the year for us in front of a packed gym,” Vilonia boys coach Jeremy Simon said. “Not only was it a rivalry game but it was a win we needed to have because we are still in the running for a state playoff spot and that's what brought our fans out. But these next three games will be crucial. It would be great if we could take care of business and go 3-0. But it starts on Friday night with Russellville.”
Vilonia – currently in a tie with Alma for third place - is now a full game behind second-place Greenbrier (18- 6, 8-3 5A West) and trail conference leader Russellville by three games.
The top four teams in the conference will advance to the state tournament.
“We still have work to do,” Myers said. “We aren’t done yet.”