Vilonia Lady Eagles Win with Clutch OT Basket

Courtesy Angie Rios

When you attend a 5A-West basketball game or two, you can usually expect to get your money’s worth particularly when the two teams are rivals like Greenbrier and Vilonia. Fans looking for quality entertainment were not disappointed at Panther Pavilion on Tuesday night.

The Greenbrier Lady Panthers hit the floor and the boards hard starting from the tip. It seemed that they could not miss, particularly from the three point line. The Lady Panthers lead a sluggish Vilonia team 15-9 at the end of the first quarter and then maintained that 6 point advantage through the half.

Still hot in the third quarter, the Greenbrier team persisted until they widened the lead to 12 points. A couple of Lady Panther turnovers gave Vilonia the momentum to cut the opponent’s lead back to six. At the end of the third quarter the score was 34-28. Vilonia outscored Greenbrier 15-9 in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter and neither team scored again as regulation play ended with a nail-biting 43-43 tie.

Spectators with any fingernails left continued biting as each team stalled and each added only two points as the clock ran. The Lady Panthers fouled which put the Vilonia Lady Eagles in the bonus but the free throw would not fall. A quick rebound and Greenbrier was back under the basket, but the ball was swept away and Vilonia was back in possession. Greenbrier fouled on a failed Vilonia shot attempt. Free throws could not be bought.

As the scoreboard beamed 43 all, the ball was knocked out of bounds on the Greenbrier end. Vilonia took possession with  7 seconds left.   Vilonia inbounded the ball and Audrey Moran made a dash to the referee for a timeout.  With only 3 seconds on the clock, Moran inbounded the ball at half court to McKenzie Gray near the baseline.  Gray swished a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Lady Eagles a 48-45 victory and a good spot in the state tournament, which begins next week at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

Bailey Reynolds led the Lady Panthers with 14 points. Ashlynn Hightower led the Lady Eagles with 15 points and McKenzie Gray added 11.

In boys’ action, the Greenbrier Panthers and Vilonia Eagles kept up a tight race through most of the first half until Greenbrier opened the lead to 12.  The never-say-quit Eagles worked their way back near the end of the game. Again, fans got a bonus for their admission price. The tie-breaker ended with the Panthers overcoming the Eagles 52-50.

Vilonia will celebrate Senior Night at home on Friday against Shiloh Christian as each team wraps up conference play.  Greenbrier will travel to Alma.

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