Having split the 1A-2 North Conference title with the Viola junior Longhorns, the Mammoth Spring junior Bears knew full well what Viola's big center, Blake Baumunk, was capable of doing.
So in the championship game of the junior high district tournament Feb. 8 at Viola, Mammoth Spring paid close attention to Baumunk, holding him to four points through the first 23 minutes and 58 seconds of action at the Longhorn Corral.
But those two remaining seconds were plenty of time for Baumunk to deliver a punishing blow to the junior Bears' tourney title hopes.
Baumunk tipped in his own miss with a shade under two seconds left in the game to propel the top-seeded junior Horns to a thrilling, 33-31, come-from-behind victory over the second-seeded junior Bears.
Mammoth Spring had led for most of the game, by as many as nine points, before Viola came storming back late.
Jackson Rains (12 points) drilled a big 3-ball with 3:14 left in the fourth to pull Viola closer than it had been since the opening seconds of the game, down one, 30-29.
Then Jacob Payne (four points) poked the ball free to Rains, giving the junior Horns possession with a shot at the lead.
Viola turned the ball back over to Mammoth Spring (17-8) on that possession, but the junior Bears missed the front end of a one-and-one and then the junior Longhorns did take the lead, 31-30, on a jumper by Jordan Cotter.
Garrett Massey (five points) knotted the game at 31-all with a free throw for Mammoth Spring with 1:13 left in the contest.
Both squads traded missed free throws until the junior Horns ended up with control of the ball under their own hoop with five ticks left on the clock.
That's when Baumunk stepped up with the play of the afternoon.
He caught the inbounds pass and went up for a shot, but the shot missed the mark. Baumunk then grabbed the rebound and in one motion, tossed it back in to give Viola a 33-31 lead with 1.5 seconds left.
Mammoth Spring had one last opportunity, but Viola tipped the ensuing inbounds pass and the junior Horns captured the district tournament hardware with a dramatic two-point victory over a determined bunch of junior Bears.
And it was evident just how determined Mammoth Spring was from the way the junior Bears played defense in the first half.
They held Viola to two points in the first period, and just eight points at the half.
Mammoth Spring led 6-2 after one period, but Viola opened the second frame by scoring the first four points of the stanza.
Then the junior Bears got busy and closed the half on an 11-2 run.
Garrett Wooldridge had a big hand in this spurt, as he tossed in six of his game-high 17 points right before intermission. Wooldridge also yanked down a game-high 16 rebounds in the game.
Chris Young (six points), Wooldridge and Massey all scored late in the second to push Mammoth Spring in front 17-8 at halftime.
But Viola found its missing offense in the third, thanks to Dylan Holstine.
Holstine jacked three treys in the third, for his nine points on the afternoon, as the junior Longhorns made a push at Mammoth Spring.
Wooldridge made sure the junior Bears maintained the lead by taking the ball strong to the hole late in the third, resulting in a big hoop and two trips to the line for Mammoth Spring.
Houston Cooper (three points) capped the third period with a pair of charity tosses that saw Mammoth Spring leading 26-19 after three.
But Viola kept chipping away in the fourth and thanks to Baumunk's big offensive boardwork, managed to sneak in front just before the final buzzer sounded, earning the junior Longhorns the district tournament title.
The junior Bears advanced to the finals with a 59-30 win over third-seeded Mount Pleasant Feb. 4.
Mammoth Spring (17-7) held serve 18-6 after the first period of play.
Garrett Massey paced the junior Bears with 13 points, while Austin Hite added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Dylan Biard tallied 11 points for the junior Bluebirds (5-11). Viola (15-9) earned a spot in the finals by besting fourth-seeded Twin Rivers 52-21 Feb. 4.
The junior Longhorns held a big 22-4 lead after one and never looked back in their win over the junior Panthers.