The Mammoth Spring Lady Bears nearly let a big lead turn into a loss Feb. 4 in 1A-2 North play against the visiting Izard County Lady Cougars.
But as it turned out, the Lady Bears hit just enough free throws in the last 40 seconds of play, while the Lady Cougars just couldn't connect with the big hoop they needed, leaving Mammoth Spring with a hard-earned 39-34 win over Izard County.
Later in the evening, the Bears kept their spot at the top of the conference standings intact with a 66-40 victory over the Cougars.
In the girls' clash, Mammoth Spring pretty much had its way in the first half and midway into the second period, the Lady Bears stood in front 15-5.
Izard County managed to cut one point off the Lady Bears' cushion late in the frame and when the half rolled around, Mammoth Spring held a 19-10 advantage.
Looking more relaxed and focused in the second half, Izard County put together a 9-3 run in the third to keep Mammoth Spring from completely running away.
Trisha Arnold hit a pair of free throws, Kristen Doty hit back-to-back buckets and Rachel Harmon drilled a trey to pull the Lady Cougars within 24-19 at the 2:22 mark.
Mammoth Spring responded with hoops from Sierra Smoot and Tiffany Angotti, but the Lady Cougars had the last say in the third with a 3-ball from the hands of Arnold that saw Izard County trailing 28-21 heading into the final frame.
Arnold then knocked down four straight charity tosses early in the fourth to ease the Lady Cougars within two, 29-27.
Mammoth Spring's lead shrank to one, 35-34, thanks to a trey from Harmon and layup by Doty with 2:15 left in the game.
But that was as close to the lead as the Lady Cougars could get.
Izard County had a couple of chances to pull ahead in the last minute of play, but the Lady Cougars just couldn't get the ball to go in the basket.
Bianca Paige sealed the victory for the Lady Bears with four free throws in the last 40 seconds of action.
On the boys' side of things, Mammoth Spring's Caleb Brown had one of those nights to dream about.
Brown led all scorers with a game-high 27 points and was the model of efficiency with his shooting. Brown was 10-for-10 from the floor and seven-for-seven from the charity stripe on the night. He also grabbed six rebounds for Mammoth Spring.
Izard County's Trenton Hatman also shot the ball well, leading the Cougars with 16 points on five treys, but it just wasn't enough to put his team over the top.
The Bears jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead behind a 3-pointer from Houston Cooper (11 points, 11 assists) and inside hoops from Brown, before Izard County rattled off eight unanswered points, six from Jake Dockins, to give the Cougars a 10-8 lead late in the first.
But that would be the only time in the game that Izard County enjoyed the lead.
The Bears closed the frame on a 7-0 burst to move in front 15-10 after one.
After being sidelined with an injured knee for basically the whole year, Garrett Wooldridge (nine points) made his season debut for Mammoth Spring with an old-fashioned 3-point play to start the second period.
Izard County got a couple of inside hoops from Kyle King and trey by Hatman late in the second, but Mammoth Spring's trapping defense largely managed to keep the Cougars from getting any comfortable looks at the bucket and the Bears took a 33-19 lead to the intermission.
Hatman hit back-to-back 3s midway into the third, but Wes Coffey (eight points) hit one of his own for the Bears, starting a period-ending 10-0 surge that saw Mammoth Spring leading 47-28 after three.
Mammoth Spring closed the book on the contest with a 15-6 run late in the fourth to give the Bears a 66-40 victory over the Cougars.
Chris Young finished with four points for Mammoth Spring. Mason Brown added three, while Austin Hite and Matt Turnbough posted two points apiece.
Caleb Cowan and Ryan Walker logged four points each for Izard County. Falco Zucker-Reimann finished with three, Tobias Pech added two and Pascal Koschowski one for the Cougars.
The junior Lady Bears opened the evening with a 34-20 victory over the junior Lady Cougars.
The Cougars bounced back by turning away the Dora Falcons 56-37 the next evening at the Cougars' Den in Brockwell.
Izard County led Dora 27-11 at the half and 42-22 after three.
Hatman tacked up a game-high 26 points, while Preston Harmon added 14 and Walker nine.
Jimmy Sexton paced the Falcons with 13 points.