Winning a conference basketball game on the road is never an easy thing.
Especially when you let your host come roaring back from a double-digit deficit late in the game, allowing them to outscore you 16-7 down the stretch in the fourth period.
But despite their late-game woes, the visiting Mount Pleasant Bluebirds, ranked number 10 in Class 1A hoops, still had built enough of a cushion to survive a last-minute uprising from the Twin Rivers Panthers, as the Bluebirds topped the Panthers 57-50 in 1A-2 North play Jan. 8 on the campus of Williford High School.
Earlier in the night, the Lady Bluebirds had a much easier time with Twin Rivers, thanks to a 30-point outburst from Erica Biard that helped Mount Pleasant to a 51-37 victory.
The boys' contest looked like it might also be a runaway, with the Bluebirds (18-5, 3-1) on top by 16, 50-34, after three periods of play.
Then Twin Rivers decided to make things interesting.
The Panthers sprung free long enough to start the final period with an 8-0 run, driving the ball straight to the hoop for four straight layups during this spree.
Mount Pleasant's first hoop of the fourth came with 4:25 left in the game, courtesy of a 3-ball from Abram Qualls that stopped the Twin Rivers run. Qualls, another one of the Bluebirds' talented freshman, jacked five triples on the night on his way to a game-high 23 points for the Bluebirds.
But the Panthers didn't let Qualls' big shot derail them for long. Twin Rivers simply went on another 8-0 spurt to pull within three, down 53-50 with 1:14 left.
Mount Pleasant had a golden opportunity to milk this three-point lead, but the Bluebirds turned the ball over with 45 seconds left on the clock.
Twin Rivers called a timeout to step up a chance at a 3-pointer that would tie the game, but the Panthers also missed a big opportunity when they were whistled for a traveling violation 11 seconds later.
With the ball back in their hands, this time the Bluebirds took care of business.
Conor Lawrence (11 points, six assists) sank a pair of huge free throws with 25 ticks remaining, and then for good measure, Qualls hit a layup near the buzzer that sealed a too-tight-for-comfort 57-50 win for Mount Pleasant.
The first period was as close as the final one would turn out to be, with the homestanding Panthers pushing out to a 12-7 lead before Mount Pleasant answered.
Dustin Heiskill (14 points, nine boards) started a period-ending 9-1 run for the Bluebirds with back-to-back buckets deep in the paint, followed by a layup from Qualls.
Conor Lawrence closed the book on the first period by nailing the first of his trio of 3-pointers for the game, pushing Mount Pleasant on top 16-13 after one.
The game was locked at 19-all midway into the second period when the Bluebirds managed to open up a bit of breathing room.
Mount Pleasant outpaced Twin Rivers 15-5 over the course of the last four minutes of the half, good enough for the Bluebirds to take a 34-24 lead to the half.
Up 10 at intermission, Mount Pleasant kept the pressure on in the third and extended this advantage to 16 points after three periods.
And even though the Panthers found enough footing to knock the Bluebirds back on their heels in the fourth, when the chips were down, Mount Pleasant came through to the tune of a seven-point victory.
Colin Lawrence finished with seven points for the Bluebirds, while Jordan Hutchins added two.
On the girls' side of things, there was little doubt that Erica Biard had brought her "A" game with her.
Biard's 30 points on the night were just seven shy of what the Lady Panthers' entire squad mustered in the contest.
And while Biard was certainly on for Mount Pleasant, so was Jessica Daigle. She stepped behind the arc long enough to can three treys in the game, en route to 11 points for the Lady Bluebirds.
Mount Pleasant is currently ranked at number 10 in the girls' Class 1A ranks.
But it was Biard that got Mount Pleasant (16-5, 3-0) off to a solid start, as she racked up 10 of the Lady Bluebirds' 12 first-period points, and helped her squad to a 12-8 lead after one.
Daigle opened the second period with a 3-ball and then Biard tossed in the next nine points for Mount Pleasant.
A jumper from Arleigh Qualls ended the first half of play with Mount Pleasant on top 26-16.
While Daigle was still hot in the third, nailing two more treys in the frame, the Lady Bluebirds' defense picked up the pace and held Twin Rivers to just two field goals and eight points in the third.
Up 39-24 heading into the final period, the Lady Bluebirds kept Twin Rivers from stringing together any kind of major run, with Mount Pleasant cruising to a 14-point victory. Sara Adams tallied six points and pulled down seven rebounds for the Lady Bluebirds, with Melissa Martin adding two points.