Sometimes experience can be over-rated.
For example, you sure couldn't have told it by witnessing the game he played in the first round of the state tournament, but Garrett Wooldridge's days of playing senior high basketball number less than a handful.
As a matter of fact, about the only way a person would have been tipped off to the fact that Wooldridge was just a ninth-grader would have been to look at Mammoth Spring's roster inside the tourney program.
Wooldridge, making his state tournament debut at the senior high level, after helping the Mammoth Spring junior Bears to an undefeated 29-0 record earlier this season, exploded for a game-high 28 points, along with seven rebounds and three assists, against the Nevada County Blue Jays in the Class 1A State Tournament March 5 at West Side Greers Ferry High School.
But other times, experience is just what the doctor ordered.
And Nevada has plenty of recent experience in the state tournament, finishing as Class 1A runners-up to Izard County a year ago.
And that experience helped the Blue Jays survive a gutty effort from Mammoth Spring, edging the Bears 58-54.
Mammoth Spring (24-10) was down 39-36 after three periods of play, but Wooldridge hit the paint hard early in the fourth to score the Bears' first five points of the frame, giving his team a 41-40 lead, Mammoth Spring's first advantage since the second period.
Twenty of Wooldridge's 28 total points came in the second half of play.
The Blue Jays pulled ahead by four points midway through the final frame, but an old-fashioned 3-point play from Wooldridge brought the Bears within a single digit.
Joseph Beasley hit a jumper and Kelvin Box added a pair of charity tosses to extend Nevada's lead back to five, 51-46, with 2:11 left to play. Beasley logged 16 points for Nevada, while Box led the Blue Jays with a team-high 23 points.
But Houston Cooper hit the front end of a one-and-one and Colton Goetting (four points) followed close with a big-time hoop-plus-one to bring the Bears within one point again.
With one minute left in the game, Wooldridge squared things at 52-all with a pair of free throws, setting up a gut-wrenching last 60 seconds of action.
Beasley slipped free for a layup down the middle of the lane with 45 ticks left that saw Nevada holding a 54-52 lead.
Next time downcourt, Mammoth Spring missed a 3-point attempt and the Blue Jays grabbed the rebound.
Box was fouled and sank both charity tosses to give Nevada a four-point lead with 21 seconds left.
Then, the Blue jays racked up a steal, forcing Mammoth Spring to commit another foul to stop the clock.
Beasley hit one of two and Nevada held a 57-52 lead.
Wes Davis (six points, eight rebounds) sank a layup with four ticks left on the clock, but Box sealed the deal for Nevada with a free throw, giving the Blue Jays a tough 58-54 win over the Bears.
Neither team had any intention of backing down early in the game and when the first period ended, the score was knotted at 12-all.
Nevada edged in front by a bucket to start the second, but Seth Godwin (10 points) hit a spinning layup in traffic to quickly even the score.
Mammoth Spring had managed to go on top by a deuce, 19-17, on a Wooldridge bucket when Box busted back-to-back treys to push the Blue Jays in front 23-19 with 2:48 left until the half.
Godwin hit a pair of hoops late to tie the game once again, but Box capped the first half with a driving hoop in the lane to send the teams to intermission with Nevada on top 25-23.
Trevor Vincent (five points) tied the game at 25-all with the first hoop of the third, but Nevada ripped off six unanswered points to open up their biggest lead to that point, 30-26.
Wooldridge cranked out the last six points of the third for Mammoth Spring, pulling the Bears within six after three.
Mammoth Spring took its first lead of the second half with 5:43 left in the game, but in the end, Nevada broke open a 52-all contest by outscoring the Bears 6-2 in the last minute of play.