The Airline Vikings avenged their lone District 1-5A loss Friday night, defeating the Southwood Cowboys 69-56 before a full house at Airline.
The Vikings finished the regular season 23-6 overall and 11-1 in district. They won the title by three games over runner-up Southwood (17-15, 8-4).
The Cowboys kept the Vikings from running the table in the district with a 64-62 victory on Jan. 24 at Southwood.
It looked like Southwood might pull off the season sweep early in the fourth quarter. Airline led 31-23 at the half, but the Cowboys hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter and outscored the Vikings by 10.
Southwood took a 47-43 lead in the first minute of the final period. But as they have done so many times this season, the Vikings found another gear.
Airline went on an 18-1 run to take a 61-48 lead with a few minutes left. The Cowboys got as close as seven with about a minute remaining but could get no closer.
Fred Lemons scored 11 points of his game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter. He, TJ Robinson and Jose Santiago hit 3-pointers during the run.
Airline also forced some turnovers and generally limited the Cowboys to one shot.
Nine other Vikings scored. Santiago and Trent Ivy had nine each. Robinson and Louis Greenard both scored seven.
Even after winning the district title, Airline will likely be on the road for the first round of the playoffs. In the updated Class 5A power rankings released Friday, the Vikings were No. 19, three spots higher than the previous rankings.
They would need to move up to No. 16 in the final rankings to have a first-round game at home. Southwood was No. 29. The Cowboys may drop a spot but should still be in the top 32 and make the playoffs.
Elsewhere, the Parkway Panthers closed their season with a 55-53 victory over Evangel Christian at Evangel. Like Airline, Parkway avenged an earlier loss. The Eagles won 51-45 on Jan. 24 at Parkway.
Justin Rogers led the Panthers with 13 points. Chase Turner added 11, Devon Hill 10 and Terrace Marshall Jr. nine.
It was a tough day for Rogers and Marshall, who are All-Parish football players at quarterback and wide receiver, respectively. Parkway head football coach David Feaster was relieved of his coaching duties Friday morning. Several other Panthers also play football.
Parkway closed the season 14-11 overall and 5-7 in district. Evangel, which will be competing in the Division I playoffs, dropped to 19-9 and 6-6.
Airline, Bossier and Plain Dealing are the only Bossier Parish schools heading to the playoffs. Official pairings will be announced Monday.
Bossier (28-6), which closed the regular season Tuesday, was still a solid No. 2 in the Class 4A rankings released Friday and will likely stay there. Plain Dealing (10-12), which closed the regular season Monday, was still No. 11 in Class 1A and will host a first-round game.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org