With a shade over a minute left in the third period, an exasperated Salem Greyhound Head Coach Casey Scribner stood on the sideline and instructed his team to, "know where number four is!"
And with good reason. That "number four," Marmaduke's Chris Foresythe, had been a thorn in Salem's side, knocking down five treys on his way to 19 points in the first three periods of play.
On the flip side, Marmaduke Head Coach Steve Richey would have been equally justified to shout to his team, "know where number 44 is!"
Also with good reason. That "number 44," Salem's Derek "Red" Estes, was playing like a man possessed, as he gashed Marmaduke for a game-high 35 points on a variety of low post moves.
However, in the end, it was number 22 that had the biggest impact as seventh-seeded Salem took on second-seeded Marmaduke in the quarter-final round of the 3A boys' brackets in the 60th annual Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro Dec. 22.
That "number 22," Maramaduke's Trent Smith, tipped in a missed shot with .04 left in the game to give his team a thrilling 82-80 win over Salem.
In addition to his game-winning putback, Smith was also largely responsible for keeping Marmaduke afloat in the fourth period by tossing in 14 of his team's last 16 points for the game. He finished with 28 points for the afternoon.
After Marmaduke led the entire way in the second half, at times by as many as eight points, Salem (2-9) finally moved ahead in the game's waning minutes.
A huge old-fashioned 3-point play from Jeff Nelson (15 points) at the 1:15 mark of the fourth gave Salem its first lead since right before the half, 79-78.
Marmaduke's Ben Jordan took the inbounds pass and shot into his team's side of the court, making it untouched into the paint for what looked like a solo layup. Only, Jordan blew the chance by dribbling the ball off his foot, giving possession to Salem.
Estes hit a free throw to build Salem's advantage to 80-78 with 44 seconds left to play.
Jordan then made up for his earlier gaffe by sinking a layup with 27 seconds on the clock, locking the contest at 80-all.
Salem had a chance to break this tie, but missed a shot and knocked the rebound out of bounds, giving the ball to Marmaduke with 17 ticks showing on the clock.
Once again Jordan made it into the lane on Marmaduke's side of the court, but his off-balance layup missed the mark. Smith was there to clean things up, tapping the ball back in with less than a second left to give Marmaduke a hard-fought two-point win over a scrappy group from Salem.
An inability to seal Marmaduke off the offensive boards in the first period kept Salem from establishing control early, as Marmaduke had plenty of second chances at buckets during the early going.
Nelson came up huge for Salem in the first period by tossing in six points while battling on the low blocks. Marmaduke held a 19-17 lead after the first period.
This lead grew to 21-17 as Foresythe opened the second with a layup for Marmaduke.
Then Salem restored order.
Lance Powell (15 points) busted the first of his two 3-balls for the game, to start a 7-0 run for Salem. Logan Henley added a deuce and Estes finished things off with a running one-hander to give Salem a 24-21 lead.
But Estes was just getting started.
Spinning like a dervish in the lane, Estes ripped off 10 of Salem's last 12 points in the second period. The lone bucket he didn't score, he still had a hand in, as he fed Nelson for a hoop just before the break that gave Salem a 36-33 advantage.
Only Marmaduke wasn't quite ready to close the book on the half.
Foresythe and Jacob Mason drained back-to-back 3-pointers inside the last minute to give Marmaduke a 39-38 lead at intermission.
Estes brought his lunch pail out of the locker room at the half and immediately went back to work for Salem, scoring eight points in the third.
Foresythe, too, had a big third period, canning three 3-pointers in the stanza to keep Maramaduke in front.
With his team down 62-54 late in the frame, Powell capped the third on a positive note by breaking free for two straight layups to pull Salem within four, down 62-58, after three.
Keeping within striking distance in the fourth, Salem finally managed to pull ahead with just over a minute left in the game before Trent Smith sent Marmaduke to victory with his last-second tap.
Seth Lindbloom posted eight points for Salem, with Alex Smith adding five.