It was the kind of game that could have started with the clanging of a bell and a ring announcer shouting "Let's get ready to rumble."
It was round number two of Thayer vs. Eminence at Thayer High School Jan. 13 and the Cats were looking for some revenge after the Redwings had beaten them in the finals of the Cabool Holiday Tournament a couple of weeks earlier.
And revenge was just what Thayer would have on this night, beating the Redwings 54-52 to give Eminence its first loss of the season.
And let me tell you, friends, neighbors and sports fans, this was some kind of high-intensity game.
Both teams trapped, pressed and ran the floor at a pace which had most fans in the stands out of breath in the first two minutes of the first period. And things didn't let up from there.
Justin Shipp's defense was a little too aggressive early, which sat him on the bench with a couple of quick fouls.
The Bobcats (9-2) had a plan and executed swing plays to a cutting Luke Martin at the free throw line. Thayer's defense on the long-ball shooters of Eminence did not stop them, but unlike the previous time the two teams hooked up, the Cats did pressure those shots this time around.
Josh Huckabee, Tommy Martin and Kevin Sandridge gave coach Matt Pitts some long and strong playing time off the bench, which was a big help in keeping the Redwings and Bobcats knotted 30-all at halftime.
With Shipp back on the floor to start the second half and Lance Schneider handling the constant pressure Eminence threw at the Bobcats, Thayer kept up the pace.
Ryan Veatch got into the offensive flow and kept constant pressure on the outside arch.
Jacob Eckman kept the middle fairly well blocked out and took a charge to add points from the free throw line.
The game was in a 38-all deadlock at the end of three.
The Bobcats kept constant pressure on the ball and cut off passing lanes very well on defense. The very physical flow the officials allowed played right into the Bobcats' advantage.
Veatch kept the Redwings' leading scorer and point guard in check, but the well-disciplined Eminence squad is dangerous from all positions.
Halfway into the final period, both teams were still even on the scoreboard at 44-all.
But at the 1:55 mark, the Redwings had stretched out to a four-point margin, 50-46, over the Bobcats.
Then, Schneider drove the lane for two and a trip to the charity stripe to balance the score.
Up and down the hardwoods, the Cats scored twice and the Redwings just once.
The Bobcats used the clock and fouls wisely in the last ticks of the game, and Eminence's Jay Williams got off a final shot which went just wide left at the buzzer, leaving Thayer with a hard-fought two-point victory over a very good Redwings squad.
Martin paced Thayer with 19 points, while Schneider added 11. Shipp logged nine and Veatch eight. Martin and Sandridge finished with two points each for the Cats.
The Cats ended their week with a 61-54 road win over Mountain Grove in South Central Association play Jan. 16.
Schneider led Thayer with a game-high 19 points, while Veatch added 15 and Eckman nine. Martin and Shipp had eight points each, with Tommy Martin logging two points.