The Thayer Bobcats traveled to The Pit at Cabool High School on Feb. 20 to take on the always-challenging Cabool Bears.
But with an undefeated record in the South Central Association on the line, the Cats were more than up for the challenge and pushed past the home team 57-47.
The victory gave Thayer (19-3) the outright SCA title with a spotless 7-0 mark.
Coach Joe Easter's young Bears were very patient on their first possession, before the Bobcats' Luke Martin (16 points) was able to tip a pass away for the Cats.
After Cabool's tough defense blocked a couple of early Bobcat shot attempts, Justin Shipp (14 points) hit a dagger from the top of the key to get the Bobcats on the board at the five-minute mark of the first. With the Bears attempting to play the Bobcats in a man-to-man defense, Lance Schneider (14 points) was able to blast down the middle of the lane to put the Cats on top. But Cabool's Nate Statenbourgh hit a trey from the corner to even things up at 5-all.
The Bobcats heated up to add five more points, with Schneider taking the inbounds pass with two ticks on the clock and nailing a 3-pointer from the half-court stripe to put the Bobcats on top 13-7 at the end of one.
The Bears started the second with four quick points to pull within two points of the Bobcats.
That changed quickly as the Bobcats got into a rhythm and hustled up the floor. Schneider shot a long pass down court to Ryan Veatch (four points) for a layup on the run. The Bears fired away and converted on a couple of 3-point shots to keep it close, ending the first half with Thayer up 27-22.
Early in second-half action, Martin came out ready to play with rebounds, points in the paint and a 17-footer, to boot.
Lance Schneider tossed a no-look pass to Jacob Eckman (nine points) streaking down the middle of the lane for a bucket.
Martin pulled down a rebound and went back up under the reverse side of the basket for two more Bobcat points. (Don't think you would want to play HORSE with this guy.)
With some outside points by Cabool, the Bears managed to stay close.
Veatch pulled down a key Bobcat rebound with under one minute in the third, as the Bobcats spread the floor.
The Bears were not able to get a shot away to end the third period and Thayer led 42-35 after three.
The Bobcats ran motion and worked time off the clock, played good defense and made some good shot selections in the final period to come away with a 57-47 win over the Cabool Bulldogs.