The Mammoth Spring Bears, playing one last game before the holiday break, ran their record to 13-4 on the year with a 87-68 win over the Couch Indians Dec. 19.
The final score is a bit deceiving as the Indians gave the Bears all they wanted for the middle two periods, before Mammoth Spring pulled away late for the win. In fact, if the first and last periods were erased, the outcome just might have been reversed.
In front 8-7 with 4:19 to play in the first period, Mammoth Spring added to their lead with a 6-0 burst, with all six points courtesy of Seth Risner (17 points).
By the time Derick Baldridge (six points) tossed in a pair of free throws with less than one tick left on the clock, the Mammoth Spring advantage stood at 21-9 after one.
Less than two minutes inside the second period, this lead had stretched to 29-11 before the Indians decided to do something about it.
Not only did they do something about it, the Indians stitched together a nice run to come roaring back into contention.
Matt Deckard (10 points) got the ball rolling by popping a 3-pointer for Couch, starting off a 14-4 run for the Indians.
EZ Dahlke (12 points) took a nice feed from B.J. Sorrell (five points) and slipped to the hoop for a basket, right before Deckard nailed his second trey of the frame.
By the time the Bears caught their breath, Couch had trimmed the lead to 35-25 with 2:16 left until the half.
With five straight points to close the second, the Indians had chipped into the margin further, going to halftime down by only seven, 38-31, after getting off to a slow start in the first period of play. The Indians outscored the Bears 22-17 in the second to keep the game from getting out of hand.
This renewed vigor carried Couch through the third period as well, keeping the game just within their reach for most of the frame.
Matt Harrell (six points) opened the period for Mammoth Spring with a jumper, a score that was answered with a trey from Couch's Brad Orahood.
Orahood paced the Indians with a team-high 19 points.
Dahlke slid into the lane and tossed in a floater as the third period buzzer sounded, with the Bears holding onto a 54-48 lead.
Much to their dismay, the last period was reminiscent of the first one for Couch, as the Bears finally put some distance between themselves and the upstart Indians.
Sorrell connected on his first long-distance bomb of the game to open the fourth for Couch, before Wesley Whiteside flexed his muscles.
Whiteside (18 points) went to work on the low blocks and canned five straight points to keep the Bears in front by 10, 61-51.
The margin was still at 10, 63-53, when the wheels fell off of the Indians' bandwagon.
After a technical foul was whistled on the Couch bench, Adam Brown stepped to the charity stripe and dropped in four free throws for Mammoth Spring, who also retained possession of the ball.
Brown led the way for the Bears with a game-high 21 points.
Thus the Indian comeback attempt ended, with the Bears breaking the game wide open at that point, outscoring Couch 20-15 the rest of the fourth to emerge with a hard-fought 87-68 victory.
Brandon Myers added 12 points for Mammoth Spring, while B.J. Tibbits had four, Logan Lawerence two, and Zach Sims one for the Bears.
Adam Combs tallied 12 points for Couch, while Kevin Price had six, Adam Crowder five, and Ross Stout two for the Indians.
The Lady Bears dropped their second 2AA-North game of the year Dec. 19, a 62-36 loss at Sloan-Hendrix.
The Lady Greyhounds remain unbeaten in conference play at 6-0 with the win over Mammoth Spring, while the Lady Bears fall to 5-2 in league play, 11-4 overall.
Sloan-Hendrix outscored the Lady Bears 17-5 in the second period to lead 36-17 at the half, before cruising in the last half of play.
Ann Whiteside paced Mammoth Spring with 14 points, while Madison Busch added 11.