In a game in which separation room between the two squads was rarer than a precious jewel during the first three periods of play, the Mammoth Spring Bears finally struck gold with a mother lode of points late, as they pushed past the homestanding Mount Pleasant Bluebirds 60-46 Jan. 16 in 1A-2 North play.
Earlier in the evening, the Lady Bluebirds took advantage of numerous miscues on Mammoth Spring's part, as Mount Pleasant topped the Lady Bears 55-45.
In the boys' clash, the outcome was up for grabs during the first three periods of play before the Bears found enough wiggle room late to blast the proceedings wide open.
Alex Billingsley (14 points) took over for Mount Pleasant in the third period, dropping in 11 points in the frame. A 3-ball from Billingsley knotted the game at 30-all with a little over a minute and a half left in the stanza.
While Billingsley was money for the Bluebirds in the third, Adam Watson (11 points) was equally huge for Mammoth Spring.
Watson jacked three triples in the third, with his last one coming in the waning moments to break the tie game and give the Bears a 33-30 lead after three.
Turns out this was all the space the Bears required.
Mammoth Spring opened the fourth period with a 14-2 spurt that essentially put the game on ice.
Justin Shipp tossed in the first six points of this run for Mammoth Spring. Shipp paced the Bears with a game-high 19 points for the night.
Back-to-back jumpers from Wes Davis (six points) and Justin Shipp capped this Bear runout, staking Mammoth Spring to a 47-32 lead with 3:56 left to play.
Mount Pleasant drilled four 3-pointers in the last 3:40 of play, two from Chase Massey (18 points) and two from Colin Lawrence (eight points), but Mammoth Spring still had the final say on things with a 60-46 victory.
The first half of play was tight, with the game knotted three times in the first eight minutes of action.
Mount Pleasant stood in front 10-8 late in the first when Seth Godwin (seven points) hit a layup to square matters at 10-all after one.
The Bears broke free to take a 13-10 lead early in the second on a free throw from Gage Busch (five points, 11 boards) and jumper from Justin Shipp.
The Bluebirds hung tough, ending the first half with three straight points to whittle the Bears' lead to two, 19-17, at the half.
Jordan Hutchins (four points) hit the first hoop of the third for Mount Pleasant, tying the game at 19-all.
From that point on, it was a race between Billingsley and Watson to see who could score more points in the frame.
While Billingsley took those honors, outscoring Watson 11-9 in the third, it was Watson's last trey of the stanza that helped propel the Bears to victory with a huge run in the fourth.
Aaron Shipp and Ethan Gaines posted six points apiece for Mammoth Spring. With the win, the Bears squared their season mark at 11-11 while improving to 6-1 in conference play.
The Bluebirds fell to 7-13 overall, 4-3 in conference play.
On the girls' side of things, Mount Pleasant appeared to be firing on all cylinders in the first half, while Mammoth Spring looked in need of a tuneup.
The Lady Bluebirds forced turnovers, blocked shots and stole inbounds passes, generally taking advantage of the Lady Bears' sluggishness in the first two periods.
Erica Biard had a productive first period for Mount Pleasant, as she tossed in 11 of her game-high 21 points in the first eight minutes of action.
With Mammoth Spring down 11-8 in the first period, the Lady Bluebirds reeled off seven unanswered points to move in front 18-8.
Courtney Risner (six points) halted this run with a 3-ball for Mammoth Spring, but Maggie Caraway (10 points) immediately responded with a triple that gave the Lady Bluebirds a 21-11 lead after one.
Mount Pleasant (18-6, 8-1) refused to budge in the second.
After Kylee Busch (17 points) had canned a 3-pointer for Mammoth Spring early in the frame, the Lady Bluebirds carted out another 7-0 run to extend their lead to 30-14 with 4:50 left until the half.
Jessica Daigle (four points) started the Mount Pleasant burst with a jumper, followed by a traditional 3-point play from Caraway and layup by Amelia Bray (nine points).
Ariane Qualls (nine points) dropped in a pair of treys in the last four minutes of the first half, as Mount Pleasant took a 41-22 lead to intermission.
Mammoth Spring made a bit of a charge at the Lady Bluebirds in the third, as the Lady Bears held Mount Pleasant to six points in the frame.
The Lady Bears reeled off the last seven points of the third, five on free throws from Busch plus a steal and layup from Melanie Maguffee (10 points) that just beat the period-ending buzzer.
Despite this late push, the Lady Bluebirds still held a 47-33 lead heading into the last eight minutes of the night.
Once again, Mount Pleasant had scoring issues, as the Lady Bluebirds found just eight points in the last period.
Mammoth Spring pulled within 10 points of the lead on a couple of occasions, but just could not get closer.
So although the Lady Bears managed to outscore Mount Pleasant 23-14 in the second half, the Lady Bluebirds' strong first half was enough to give Mount Pleasant a 55-45 win.
Niki Edge finished with two points for Mount Pleasant.
Kayly Vest and Stevi Benedict tallied five points each for Mammoth Spring, with Ashley Walsh adding two for the Lady Bears.