That's what the Mammoth Spring Bears found out at Bay when they failed to reach the Class 1A Region 2 finals after losing to Norfork 47-41 on Feb. 27.
However, they quickly redeemed themselves with a squeaker of a win over Black Rock, 40-39, on Feb. 28.
Mammoth Spring was rewarded with a trip to Greers Ferry Westside and the Class 1A State Tournament, where the Bears took on Nevada County.
"This bunch is as blue collar a bunch as I've ever had and just absolutely worked and got better and better all year long. They just overcame a lot of obstacles that were thrown at them," said Bears Head Coach Jeremy Cude. "They've exceeded my expectations greatly. Even if they had lost today, they accomplished great things. They just got a little icing on the cake today."
Down 27-23 at the end of three, Black Rock tied the score three times in the fourth, but could never take the lead. The Zebras tied it at 36-all with a minute left, but Garrett Wooldridge put in a bucket and went two-for-three in the Bears' next two possessions to get make it 40-36.
The Zebras nailed a trey with eight seconds left and Seth Godwin missed his two free throws, but the Zebras' J.J. Nunally couldn't make it pay off as he missed the buzzer bucket.
Mammoth Spring's Houston Cooper's 3-pointer on the first quarter buzzer tied the game at 12-all.
Just like the night before, the Bears started the game at the line on their first few possessions.
Against Black Rock, they were five-of-eight, but this didn't match Nunally's two 3s.
"This is a big difference between this week and last week -- at the district tournament we shoot 89- and 81-percent from the line in our two games," explained Cude. "Last night, I know we're 15-for-29 and today I haven't looked yet, but it couldn't have been much better. They've got to focus and go to the line and go through their routine and sometimes the pressure gets to them and sometimes we're just not focused up there."
The Zebras' only managed four points in the second and the Bears put in nine to take a 21-16 halftime lead.
Trevor Vincent, Chris Young and Wes Davis each scored a bucket for the Bears, but the team turned the ball over eight times in the third. However, the Zebras cut only a point off their deficit ending the quarter down 27-23.
"Unfortunate enough to say this, but it was almost a battle of who's not going to give the other team the win -- instead of who's going to go take the win," joked Cude.
Vincent scored 12 points for Mammoth Spring.
Wooldridge had 10.
In the semis against Norfork, the Bears expanded their lead to six with six minutes to play in the fourth, but the Panthers rallied back with just less than two minutes.
Mark Lewis hit a trey and bucket-and-one on consecutive possessions to retake the lead, 42-41, for the Panthers with 1:38 left in the game.
The Bears went into a stall, calling two timeouts with 27 and 16 seconds left.
"I don't know that we were trying to go for the last shot," said Cude. "I called a couple of timeouts to try to run something and get a shot, but Norfork did such a good job of defending us and we couldn't get the shot we wanted."
With five seconds left, Colton Goetting ended up with a ball. He went up for the short jumper, leaning into the defender. He missed the bucket and no foul was called, much to the dismay of the Bears' fans.
Norfork had five players score a bucket in the first, but sent the Bears to the line eight times.
However, Mammoth Spring could only manage three-of-eight in the first and found themselves down 10-7 after one.
Davis improved his free throw percentage in the second as the Panthers continued to give Mammoth Spring free opportunities.
Davis hit four-of-six and Vincent was gold around the hoop with six points. The Panthers' Ethan Barnes scored eight of his 14 points in the second and Norfork retained the advantage at halftime, 25-22.
Seth Goodwin provided five points and the Panthers struggled to score, giving Mammoth Spring a 32-31 lead at the end of three.
"Norfolk took advantage of absolutely every opportunity we gave them," said Cude. "That's what you've got to do this time of year. When someone let's you have a chance to win it, you've got to go do it."
Vincent led the team with 18 points followed by Wooldridge and Godwin with 11 each.
In the opening round Feb. 25, Godwin and Vincent turned in a pair of big-time performances in the second half to propel Mammoth Spring past the Maynard Tigers 51-41.
Godwin scored 21 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, while Vincent logged 13 of his 18 points down the stretch as the Bears played catch-up with the Tigers.
Maynard led 18-14 at the half and 30-28 after three when Mammoth Spring made its move.
Godwin drilled a big triple with 5:40 left in the game to edge Mammoth Spring in front 35-34. This was just the jump-start the Bears needed.
Godwin scored nine points the rest of the way in the fourth, including a seven-for-eight showing from the charity stripe, while Vincent posted five points in the run to the wire, helping the Bears to a 51-41 victory.
Mammoth Spring sprinted out to a 6-1 lead early in the first period, but the Tigers ended the frame on a 10-0 run to give Maynard an 11-6 lead after one.
Wooldridge posted four points for the Bears.
Young, Davis and Goetting finished with two points each for Mammoth Spring.