Attempts to knock off the Cave City Cavemen on their home hardwood the first half of the 2005 season have, on all occasions but one, been a losing proposition.
Other than Highland, which beat the Cavemen on homecoming, Cave City's opponents have routinely left The Cave with a double-digit loss in tow.
That is until the Izard County Consolidated Cougars went spelunking Dec. 20.
The Cougars fell behind by 15 points early in the second period but regrouped and made a game of it late, before coming up a shot or two short in Cave City's 52-49 victory.
Earlier in the night the Cavewomen stopped the Lady Cougars' impressive 11-game winning streak with a 65-49 win over ICC.
In boys' action, the stretch run was tight as the Cougars threatened to pull in front late in the fourth period.
With ICC (12-6) down by five, Joey Stekfa (four points) hit a pair from the charity stripe with 1:52 left in the game that pulled the Cougars within three, 52-49, of Cave City's lead.
Inside the minute-mark the Cougars had a chance to even things up with a pair of steals, but a turnover and missed shot by ICC kept the Cavemen (12-3) in control. Barely.
Cave City missed the front end of a one-and-one with 23 ticks left on the clock and a Kyle McCandlis (eight points) 3-point attempt at the five-second mark from the top of the key bounced off the rim, forcing ICC to foul.
With a chance to put the pesky Cougs away for good, the Cavemen missed another front end of a one-and-one, giving ICC the ball under Cave City's basket with a shade over one second left in the game.
ICC's length-of-court inbounds' pass went out of bounds untouched near the Cougars' goal, and the Cavemen hung on for a hard-fought three-point non-conference win.
Cave City established the lead right off the bat, a lead they would hang onto all night, behind six first-period points from Justin Barr (14 points).
With his squad down 11-4 late in the first, ICC's Curtis Clark (13 points) went to work on the low blocks and tossed in five straight points for the Cougars to keep them from falling into a huge hole.
Jonathan Fowler (14 points, eight steals) stopped this run with the first of his four triples on the evening, and Cave City held serve 15-9 after one.
This gap widened early in the second as Cave City scored the first nine points of the frame to move in front 24-9.
ICC didn't panic. The Cougars managed to keep Cave City from thoroughly roughing them up, and a 9-4 run in the last three minutes of the period gave ICC hope for the second half of play. James Morgan tossed in six of his 12 points for ICC in the second period.
Scott Small closed the first half with back-to-back buckets for the Cougars that saw the Cavemen up 37-28 at intermission.
McCandlis opened the third period with a 3-ball, a shot that started a 7-2 run for ICC and pulled the Cougars within four, 39-35.
Cave City quickly responded with a hoop from Dilon Willmuth (13 points, five assists) and five big points from Fowler, keeping the Cavemen in front 46-39 after three.
The Cougars still were not done as they refused to go quietly in the fourth period, pulling to within three points late before the Cavemen, despite going almost the last three minutes of the game without any points, held on to win.
Jared Harris finished with five points and 14 boards for Cave City, while Jordan Smith, Dustin Davidson and Jonathan Hunter logged two points each for the Cavemen.
Jonathan Quillman tallied five for the Cougars, with Adam Montgomery adding three for ICC.
On the girls' side of things, watching the action was better than opening an early Christmas present, as some of the most talented sophomores and juniors in the state battled it out on the floor of The Cave five days before Christmas.
And the talent certainly did not disappoint.
ICC's one-two punch of sophomore Sammi Fowler (20 points, eight boards) and junior Brittney Richardson (21 points, seven rebounds) combined for 41 of the Lady Cougs' 49 points on the night, while Cave City's sharp-shooting sophomore Jordan Witt (10 points) teamed with up junior Leah Fugett to led the Cavewomen to victory. Fugett torched the nets for a game-high 35 points.
Fugett had an especially active night at the charity stripe, going 17-of-19 for the game. Cave City's senior guard, Joanna Anderson, also had a big game by draining three treys on her way to 14 points.
The Lady Cougars, behind eight points from Fowler, opened up a 10-5 lead midway into the first period.
Cave City bounced back with five points from Witt and Fugett, locking the game at 10-all at the 1:45 point.
ICC then went on a 6- run, with Richardson, Brittney Bailey and Leathyr Spangler (four points, five steals) all knocking down shots to push their team on top 16-12.
Fugett closed the first with a shot in the lane to pull Cave City within a bucket, 16-14, after one.
The Cavewomen then climbed on top to stay in the second period.
Opening with a 6-0 burst, Cave City moved in front 20-16 in the first two minutes of the frame.
Fowler broke that run with a layup, but the Cavewomen simply ran off six more unanswered points to extend their lead to 26-18.
Richardson banged in a pair of hoops late in the frame, but Anderson canned a 3-ball to help Cave City to a 29-22 advantage at intermission.
Cave City started the third with a 10-3 spurt to go up 14, 39-25, at the 3:16 mark of the frame.
Forced to play from a double-digit hole the rest of the way, the Lady Cougars just couldn't manage to string together enough hoops to seriously challenge Cave City.
Up 44-33 after three, Fugett made sure the Cavewomen remained in control by exploding for 17 points in the fourth, as Cave City ended the night with a big 65-49 win over ICC.
Cassie Bradley and Kayla Qualls had three points each for Cave City.
Keressa Campbell added two for the Lady Cougars.