It's never a good thing when your starting point guard fouls out in the fourth period of a tight game.
Especially when the outcome of that tight game has a spot in the state tournament on the line.
And oh yeah, especially when that tight game is just beginning to get heated up after four periods of play.
Kind of like rain, nor sleet, nor snow not being able to slow a mail carrier from appointed rounds, neither the loss of starting point guard Seth Godwin, nor the Mount Pleasant Bluebirds, nor quadruple overtime could keep the Mammoth Spring Bears from earning their first trip to the state tournament since 2001.
In a game for the ages between two squads that refused to give an inch to the other side, the Bears edged past the Bluebirds 92-86 in a four-overtime thriller Feb. 24 in the third-place game of the 1A Region 2 Tournament at the Cougars' Den in Brockwell.
The game took two hours to complete, saw four players on each team foul out, featured 16 3-pointers (nine from the Bears, seven from the Bluebirds, most of which were from NBA-range) and had 33 free throws recorded in the four extra periods alone.
But in the end, a big off-the-bench effort from Mammoth Spring (17-16) freshman Justin Shipp turned out to be the deciding factor in this marathon.
With Godwin (12 points) on the bench after fouling out with 1:39 left in regulation, Justin Shipp took control of the Bears' offense in the overtime periods, scoring 17 of Mammoth Spring's 41 overtime points. Shipp finished the game with 25 points. Shipp's older brother Aaron also had a huge game, finishing with 22 points for the Bears.
Not to be outdone, Mount Pleasant's (10-20) sophomore guard Chase Massey turned in a fantastic outing with a game-high 30 points, including 18 in overtime. Playing what turned out to be the last game of his excellent high-school career, Alex Billingsley racked up 23 points for the Bluebirds.
The game was knotted at 78-all heading into the fourth OT frame when Justin Shipp gave the Bears a bit of breathing room early with a layup and pair of free throws.
Mount Pleasant kept coming back and Massey tossed in the Bluebirds' next eight points to keep the outcome up in the air.
Fresh off the bench, Corey Ferguson hit a layup for Mount Pleasant with 20 ticks left to pull the Bluebirds within two, 88-86.
With Justin Shipp, who fouled out with 27 seconds left in the fourth OT, joining Godwin, Wes Davis and Ethan Gaines on the bench, big brother Aaron, along with another freshman, Cody Parks, sealed the win for Mammoth Spring by hitting two free throws apiece in the last 19 seconds of the afternoon.
Justin Shipp started the extra-frame part of this endurance test by scoring all of the Bears' seven points in the first overtime.
Tied at 58-all after that first extra period, Gage Busch (nine points) made sure a third overtime was needed as he hit a free throw with one second left in the second OT, sending the game to a third overtime locked at 66-all.
In the third OT, Mount Pleasant had managed to pull ahead 74-70 with 1:32 left thanks to two free throws from Massey along with a traditional 3-point play by Dustin Heiskill (10 points).
The Bears countered with a pair of 3-balls from Aaron Shipp and Adam Watson (11 points), but Mammoth Spring still trailed 78-76 with eight ticks left.
Mount Pleasant had a chance to build on this two-point lead with a two-shot trip to the charity stripe, but came up empty after the first free throw missed the mark and the second was ruled no good after a lane violation on the Bluebirds.
Taking advantage of this good fortune, Justin Shipp tied the game at 78-all with a layup at the buzzer, sending the game into a fourth and final overtime period.
All this after the Bears had used a quick start to the game to pull in front by as many as 14 points in the first half of play.
Aaron Shipp canned three treys in the first period, while Godwin added one of his own to help Mammoth Spring to a 15-6 lead after the first period.
Mammoth Spring led 26-18 at intermission, before Billingsley got rolling in the third period to bring Mount Pleasant back into contention.
Billingsley racked up 11 points in the third and his two free throws near the end of the stanza deadlocked things at 37-all after three.
It was also Billingsley who was responsible for sending the game into its first extra frame.
With Mount Pleasant down by two points late, first Massey hit a baseline jumper, then Billingsley used a steal and layup with 24 ticks left to tie the game at 51-all after four periods of regulation play.
Wes Davis finished with seven points for the Bears, while Ethan Gaines added three, and Jonathon Marler one.
Tony Neal ended the afternoon with 12 points for the Bluebirds, with Keaton Johnson logging five. Jordan Hutchins and Chris Sellers tallied two points apiece.
Justin Shipp and Gage Busch earned All-Regional Tournament honors for Mammoth Spring, while Massey and Billingsley played their way onto the All-Tournament team for Mount Pleasant.
Mammoth Spring's tangle with the host Izard County Consolidated Cougars in the semi-final round Feb. 23 ended with Bears on the short side of a 66-50 final.
Joey Stefka had a monster night for the Cougars, as he poured in 23 of his game-high 29 points in the first period of play, helping ICC establish a lead it would hold for all but the opening hoop of the night.
ICC sped in front 15-7 in the first period before Mammoth Spring ended the frame on a positive note.
Justin Shipp (eight points) racked up an old-fashioned 3-point play with 23 ticks left, and Davis closed the book on the first with a jumper in the lane off an inbounds pass at the buzzer, pulling the Bears within three, 15-12, after one.
Busch had a strong outing in the second period for Mammoth Spring, as he racked up 10 of his team-high 18 points in the period.
But the Cougars were just loaded with too many weapons.
Kyle McCandlis (nine points) drilled two of his three treys for the game in the second, while Stefka shook loose for 15 points in the second, most coming on darting drives to the rack.
The Bears finished the first half with two free throws from Busch and one from Godwin (four points), but ICC held a 40-27 advantage at the break.
Aaron Shipp (13 points) came out firing for Mammoth Spring in the third, as he connected on back-to-back triples that edged the Bears within seven, 40-33.
Watson (six points) also dialed up a long-distance bomb in the third, but ICC countered with the inside play of Spencer Caraway (seven points) and Curtis Clark (six points) to maintain a 53-40 lead after three.
ICC kept rolling in the fourth, on its way to a 66-50 victory.