It was the visiting Izard County Cougars who got out of the gate the fastest, but it was the homestanding Cave City Cavemen who finished the strongest in a fast-paced non-conference basketball matchup Nov. 27.
Down by double-digits at the half, the Cavemen (4-2) kept chipping away and managed to post a 20-point turnaround, going from a 10-point hole to a 10-point win, 56-46, over the Cougars. The loss was just Izard County's (11-2) second setback of the year.
In girls' action, the Cavewomen pulled in front early and eased to a 61-33 victory over the Lady Cougars to start the evening in the sparkling new arena on the Cave City High School campus.
Taking advantage of an up-tempo attack that at times left Cave City on heels in the first half, Izard County led by as many as 10 points for most of the first two periods of play in the boys' game.
However, the Cavemen hung tough in the second half, biding their time while hammering away at the Cougars' lead. Cave City picked up the pace on the defensive end of the court in the second half and held the Cougars to 13 points in the last two periods of play.
A pair of treys in the third from Ethan Smith (13 points) and Jon Hunter (11 points) kept Cave City afloat in the frame, as the Cavemen held Izard County to a hoop and five free throws in the third. This helped Cave City pull within three, 40-37, entering the final period, after Cave City had trailed 33-23 at intermission.
Then in the fourth, the Cavemen made their move.
A triple from Smith knotted the game at 42-all with 6:24 left to play.
While Hunter and Smith both fouled out soon after, Dalton Bell (six points) picked up his team by drilling a 3-ball that gave the Cavemen a 45-43 lead, their first since early in the game.
While Cave City began to find its footing, the Cougars began to slip, and came up empty on three straight trips down the floor.
The Cougars found just two field goals in the last eight minutes of play, while the Cavemen put the game away at the charity stripe.
Five different Cavemen hit free throws in the last minute of play, with Cave City tossing in nine free throws during that span to win by 10, 56-46.
After Spencer Caraway (17 points, six boards) opened the game with a jumped from the Cougars, Cave City ripped off three consecutive treys, two by Aaron Holley (13 points, eight rebounds) and one by Smith.
Then Izard County got its full-court scramble on track, forcing the Cavemen into some turnovers, allowing the Cougars to go on a 16-2 run.
Kyle McCandlis (16 points) put in eight of those points, but it was Chase Massey (six points) that closed the book on the first by draining a long trey from the top of the key as the buzzer sounded, giving Izard County a 21-13 lead after one.
The Cougars kept pushing the ball hard in the second period and took a 33-23 advantage to intermission.
Cave City remained calm and after cutting the gap to three after play ended in the third, finally managed to get the lead and hold it down the stretch in the fourth.
Tyler Little sank five points for Cave City, while Alan Schultz finished with four points, Jon Rhoades three and Justin Felts one.
Scott Small logged four points and blocked five shots for the Cougars, while Curtis Clark hit for three points.
On the girls' side of things, Cheyenne Childers (13 points, 10 rebounds) established Cave City (3-2) in the paint from the get-go, as she scored her team's first five points down low.
Adding to Childers' play inside the blocks in the first, Maggie Caraway (nine points) drilled a pair of 3-balls to help the Cavewomen to an 18-8 lead after one.
Rachel Harmon (six points) hit Izard County's first trey of the game to open the second and Trace Grinnell (15 points, eight rebounds) added a deuce, but then Cave City went on a 9-0 run, featuring a pair of free throws by Amelia Bray (six points) and pair of long triples from Jordan Witt (22 points, 10 boards).
Keressa Campbell (eight points) stopped the run with a bucket for the Lady Cougars, but by the time the half rolled around, Cave City held a 33-17 lead.
The Cavewomen added to this margin by ripping off the nine points of the third period to maintain control.
With the Cavewomen up 51-26 after three, the Lady Cougars could manage just seven points in the fourth period, leaving Cave City with a 61-33 victory.
Meagan Graddy logged six points for Cave City, while Brittney Landers and Katie Armstrong had two points apiece.
Amie Willmuth finished with one point for the Cavewomen.
Leathyr Spangler tossed in two points for Izard County, with Haley Crotts and Kaci Crotts ending the game with one point each.