Like two runaway trains headed for certain collision, the Thayer Lady Bobcats and Couch Lady Indians steamed toward a meeting in the finals of the 30th Annual Thayer Lady Bobcat Winter Classic by dismantling anything that lay in front of them.
The Lady Cats, holding the top seed, blew the doors off Dora 95-11 in the first round before claiming a berth in the finals by knocking off Koshkonong in the semis.
On the other side of the brackets, the second-seeded Lady Indians smashed Bakersfield 67-35 in opening action, then beat Mammoth Spring 66-50 to earn a meeting with Thayer in the tourney championship game Jan. 23.
Tangled up for the third time this season, it was basically same song, different verse, with Thayer making it three in a row over Couch, winning the championship game 62-49.
The victory also makes it three-for-three in tournament titles for Thayer this season, as they add the Winter Classic to crowns from the Van Buren and Mansfield tourneys earlier in the season.
A tight game at the half with Thayer in front by three, the Lady Cats opened up a little breathing room in the third period on the way to a 13-point win.
The first half of play boiled down to a battle between Thayer's LaShanda Horton and Couch's April Redus.
Horton tossed in 15 of her team-high 21 points in the first half, including three treys, while Redus hit for 14 first-half points on her way to 24 of Couch's 49 for the game.
The first 16 minutes of play was nip-and-tuck, with a baseline hoop by Lady Cat Megan Underwood (18 points) breaking a 14-all tie just before the end of the first period to give Thayer a 16-14 advantage at the end of one.
The second period was equally close with the lead changing hands seven times in the frame.
With Thayer up 26-25 on a putback by Sarah Caldwell (eight points) at the 2:07 mark, the Lady Indians moved back on top thanks to a Redus jumper and a free throw by Kim Labahn (11 points).
This turned out to be the last time the Lady Indians would hold a lead in the game, as Horton closed the half on a positive note for Thayer by stroking a 3-pointer before adding a steal and hoop to stake the Lady Bobcats to a 31-28 lead at intermission.
The third period opened with sluggish play on both squads' parts, but Thayer's margin grew to seven late in the frame before Redus busted her first trey of the evening, pulling Couch within four at 37-33.
This was answered with a bucket by Underwood and a 3-ball from Summer Jones (seven points), helping the Lady Bobcats to a 46-37 lead at the end of the third.
Couch did cut some off Thayer's margin in the fourth, getting within nine points at 50-41 on a bucket from Redus, but the Lady Cats were never seriously threatened, moving on to claim the game.
Kylee McAlmond added six points for Thayer, while Christa Cox finished with two.
Caitlyn Melton tallied six for Couch, with Tonya Combs and Sandy Labahn finishing with four each.