It was a big-time showdown between two big-time teams that called for a big performance from a senior leader.
And Amelia Bray came through, big-time.
Bray scored a game-high 22 points, including four free throws in the last 55 seconds of overtime, helping the Cave City Cavewomen, the state's second-ranked Class 3A team, knock off top-ranked Valley Springs 45-43 in overtime Jan. 13 in Cave City.
The loss was the Lady Tigers (23-4, 4-1) first one in conference play and moves the Cavewomen (17-2, 5-0) into the 3A-1 East's driver's seat. The win also elevated Cave City to the number one spot in Class 3A.
Later in the evening, the Tigers evened things a bit by defeating the Cavemen 56-31.
In the girls' clash, it was all Bray could do to stand upright near the end of overtime. After chasing Valley Springs' All-State force Westin Taylor around all game, sticking to her like glue and limiting the explosive Taylor to just two points in the game, Bray was ready for a breather.
But first, she had some big charity tosses to knock down.
Although she got sandwiched between a pair of Lady Tiger defenders midway into the extra period and had to hobble to the free throw line the rest of the way, Bray scored Cave City's last four points of the game to fend off the Lady Tigers. For the game, 14 of Bray's 21 points came from the free throw stripe.
Valley Springs' Haley Scott got off a shot at the buzzer from just inside the 3-point arc on the right side of the floor, but it missed the mark as the buzzer sounded, giving Cave City a huge victory.
The physical contest was locked at 31-all after regulation ended and the Cavewomen moved ahead to stay early in the overtime period.
Haley Bell (six points) hit a pair of free throws and Jessica Hall (seven points) added another to edge Cave City in front 34-31.
After a Valley Springs turnover, Bray hit a pair of charity tosses and Cheyenne Childers added a spinning layup to give the Cavewomen their biggest lead of the night to that point, 38-33.
The Lady Tigers kept chipping away however, and pulled within three points with a shade under two minutes left in overtime.
But Brittney Landers (six points) bough Cave City some breathing room by burying her second 3-ball of the night, pushing the Cavewomen back in front 41-35.
Valley Springs got as close as one point, 42-41, with 34 ticks left, but Bray sealed the deal from the free throw line when the game was on the line.
The first half was befitting of a battle between the top two Class 3A teams in the state and was a low-scoring affair, with both sides feeling the other out.
Taylor picked up two quick fouls in the first period for Valley Springs and this would turn out to be huge, as she fouled out with 1:25 left in the fourth period.
Cave City managed just four five throws in the first period, while the Lady Tigers countered with two hoops, leaving the Cavewomen on top 5-4 after one.
Landers hits Cave City's first field goal of the game, a trey, at the 5:45 mark of the second period. A jumper from Bray pushed Cave City on top 11-10 midway into the stanza, but Valley Springs responded with the last four points of the frame to move in front 14-12 at intermission.
The Lady Tigers took their biggest lead of the game, 19-15, early in the third. But Brooklyn Brinkley hit a layup and Bray added a free throw to keep Cave City close.
Valley Springs took a 21-18 advantage into the fourth period, but Hall drilled a much-needed triple with 3:47 left in the fourth to edge the Cavewomen within a point, down 26-25.
In the last 50 seconds of regulation, the Lady Tigers missed the front end of back-to-back one-and-ones, leaving the door open for Cave City. And the Cavewomen jumped at that chance.
Bell hit a free throw and then Bray split traffic in the lane for a layup with 12 seconds showing on the clock that tied the contest at 31-all, sending the clash into an extra frame.
In the boys' game, Valley Springs came out smoking, scoring the game's first 10 points to grab a lead the Tigers would not give up.
Zac Smith (seven points) hit a layup and Dalton Bell (10 points) nailed a 3-ball, but Cave City trailed 13-5 after one.
Valley Springs scored the first seven points of the second to move on top 20-5. Brandon Gillihan knocked down two free throws for the Cavemen's only points of the second period, leaving the Tigers on top 20-7 at the half.
Cave City regrouped a bit in the third and Bell, along with Seth Foreman (five points) drilled a pair of treys for the Cavemen. Cave City almost held its own in the third and Valley Springs outscored the Cavemen by just one point, 12-11, in the third.
But because Valley Springs had such a productive first half, the Tigers led 32-18 after three.
Cave City just couldn't make up any more ground in the final frame and fell 56-31 to Valley Springs.
Dexter Huckabee, Justin Meskimin and Tyler Asberry finished with two points each for Cave City, while Levi Watts added one point.
Jace Jones paced the Tigers with 16 points, while Nick Wayman added 13.