Although they held the lead for only 2:25 in their Feb. 10 clash with the Van Buren Bulldogs, the Alton Comets sure picked the right time to hold the lead; the last two and a half minutes of the game.
Down by as many as 10 points in the final frame, the Comets regrouped at the right time to knock off the homestanding Bulldogs 56-51 in Big Spring Conference play.
Earlier in the evening, the Lady Comets got close, but just couldn't get over the hump, as the Lady Dawgs held Alton at bay by a 55-50 count.
On the boys' side of things, the Comets just looked a step slower than Van Buren for most of the first three periods of play.
However, with the game on the line in the fourth, a couple of huge performances from Alex Wiggs and Seth Roberts turned a certain loss into a come-from-behind road win for the Comets.
Wiggs posted 12 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth, including a sparkling 10-for-12 showing at the charity stripe as Alton erased the Bulldogs' advantage down the stretch.
Roberts, too, had a big final frame for the Comets, with 10 of his 12 points on the night coming in the last eight minutes of play.
Down by four, 27-23, at the half, Alton didn't get off to the kind of start it needed in the third period with three straight turnovers that led to a 5-0 burst from Van Buren, giving the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the night.
The Comets posted just seven points in the frame, the last two on a layup by John Barton that came near the end of the stanza, leaving Alton in a 39-31 hole after three.
Van Buren made it a 10-point deficit for the Comets with a Brad Pool layup that started the fourth period.
Alton didn't fold its tent and head back home through the forest. Instead, Wiggs and Roberts went to work.
After a free throw from Wiggs and two more from Roberts, Ben Whitten stepped up to the plate and jacked a huge 3-ball that pulled Alton within six, 43-37.
Then it was more Wiggs and Roberts.
Wiggs hit four more charity tosses, and Roberts followed with four straight points of his own, edging Alton within a single point, 46-45.
With 2:25 left in the game, Wiggs got free for a running layup that gave the Comets their first lead of the night, 47-46.
Staked with the advantage finally on their side, the Comets buckled down and refused to let Van Buren back into contention.
Wiggs and Roberts combined for Alton's last nine points of the game, with Wiggs nailing five free throws in the last minute of play, giving his squad a remarkable late rally for a five-point win.
Van Buren jumped on its visitors from Oregon County early in the first, grabbing a lead that it would carry for almost the whole night.
The Comets didn't find the scoreboard until midway into the first period, but a layup from Wiggs late in the frame tied the game at 8-all.
That's when Van Buren's Jon Bourque came alive.
Bourque busted a 3-pointer at the buzzer, the first of his three in the first two periods of play, to push the Bulldogs on top 11-8 after one.
Logan Simpson (seven points) and Dustin Tackitt (six points) helped to keep the Comets afloat in the second period, with Simpson tossing in five points in the frame, while Tackitt added four.
But Bourque continued with his hot-shooting in the second, knocking down two more 3s on his way to 10 points in the stanza.
Ben Alexander hit a pair of free throws deep into the second, but Alton trailed 27-23 at intermission.
The Comets would continue to follow Van Buren until a late fourth-period push was enough to lift the Comets to a hard-earned rally to victory.
Jacob Alexander finished with two points for the Comets.
The girls' contest was a lot like the boys', in that Van Buren grabbed the lead early and controlled the flow of the game.
However, in the girls' game, the Lady Comets just couldn't manage to swipe the lead from the Lady Dawgs.
Alton struggled with turnovers early in the first, helping Van Buren to a fast 8-0 lead.
When the Lady Comets did find the scoreboard, they did so in a big way.
First Sarah Rowe (six points) jacked a 3-ball, and then next time downcourt for Alton, Katy Rowe (six points) pulled the same trick, bringing the Lady Comets within a bucket, 8-6, of Van Buren.
Shelli Ellis blasted a triple of her own to keep Van Buren's margin at two midway into the frame. Ellis paced Alton with 14 points for the game.
After Ellis' trey, the Lady Dawgs went on an 8-0 run to push in front 19-9.
Lauren Hatten (nine points) ended the Van Buren run with a hoop just before the horn, but the Lady Comets trailed 19-11 after one.
Alton clawed back closer to Van Buren in the second period behind an aggressive, trapping defense that caught the Lady Dawgs a bit unprepared.
After the Lady Dawgs had moved ahead 23-11 with the first two buckets of the second, the Lady Comets turned up the heat.
Taking advantage of several Van Buren mistakes under pressure, the Lady Comets broke out on a 10-zip run that pulled Alton within three, 23-20, at the 1:26 point.
Van Buren managed to post the last three points of the first half, ending Alton's spurt and sending the teams to intermission with the Lady Dawgs on top 26-20.
The Lady Comets managed to hang around in the third, and a 3-ball from Tanai Sutherland (nine points) and two free throws from Ellis, saw Alton down by just six, 38-32, after three.
Sutherland and Ellis also played a big role in Alton's success in the final frame.
With the Lady Comets down 47-39 at the 2:15 point of the fourth, Ellis nailed a big triple for three of her eight points in the frame.
Van Buren had pushed back in front 50-44 when it was Sutherland's turn for a big play.
She canned a long 3-ball that drew Alton within three, 50-47.
Alton's rally hit a bit of a brick wall at this point.
With a chance to pull even with Van Buren, the Lady Comets missed three-out-of-four free throw attempts in the game's last 47 seconds, allowing the Lady Dawgs to post a five-point win over a spirited group of Lady Comets.
Samantha Allred finished with seven points for Alton.