When you hear about "Border Wars," you might think of foreign lands and the edges of the United States, but there has been a Border War going on here in south-central Missouri and north-central Arkansas for many, many years.
Mammoth Spring vs. Thayer.
Towns separated by a mere four miles.
And it seems like those four miles are even closer when the Thayer boys' and girls' basketball teams invaded Arkansas territory Dec. 17, to do battle with the Mammoth Spring Bears.
With a good crowd of spectators, supporters, moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas, along with a full contingent of student bodies from both schools, the Mammoth Spring junior varsity Bears made a strong comeback attempt in the second half, but were not able to contain the up-and-coming JV Bobcats, as the Cats came out on top with a 38-22 victory.
With nearly all the seating spaces filled in the Mammoth Spring gym, the Lady Bears and the Lady Bobcats tipped into action.
The Lady Cats jumped out on top of the first quarter, holding an 8-5 lead.
With the temperature turned up, the heat of the competition intensified as the Lady Bears clawed their way closer, with the Lady Cats still holding the advantage, 21-16 at the half.
The same two teams came out of the locker room at the half break, each with a little more steam after receiving the coaches encouraging statements at the break.
Tough battling for each loose ball, along with patience to find a clear shot, turned up the temperature gage another notch as the Lady Cats continued to hold a thin lead as the third quarter buzzer sounded.
With time ticking down on the final square, ball pressure from the Lady Bears forced a couple of turnovers by the Lady Cats which Mammoth Spring was able to capitalize on.
With under a minute left, with time-outs, free throws and pressure forcing the Lady Cats to turn the ball over, the Lady Bears edged a one-point advantage, which held for the final buzzer.
The tremendous explosion of cheers from the players and fans may have been heard miles away -- like at the train depot in Thayer -- as the Lady Bears took a 34-33 victory over the Lady Bobcats.
With the stands filled and overflowing out into the lobby for Spring River ice cream, hot dogs, nachos and popcorn, the Blue and Green colors reflected off the polished hardwood, as the varsity boys tipped off for the evening's finale.
Hard full- court pressure from the Mammoth Spring Bears held the Bobcats scoreless for the first couple of minutes of action.
Matt Turnbough lit up the scoreboard a couple of times from outside the 3-point arc to give the Bears a 14-8 advantage at the end of one.
Players from both the Bears and the Bobcats have been friends and played together, but that comeraderie took a seat, as each team battled for position and looked to find open team mates for layups. The Bears managed another seven points and the Bobcat eight in the second quarter, before the half intermission.
The Bobcats inched closer in the third quarter, with tough defense and positioning from Levi Hargrove, along with a couple of hang-time jumpers from Austin Henry and rebounding from Jared Foley, but still lagged behind 30-26 at the end of three.
The Bears' two big men, Garrett Wooldridge and Caleb Brown, were able slice into the Bobcat defense for scores late in the game. Houston Cooper avoided the Bobcat ball pressure from Dylan Dennis to rotate the ball to the open court and find Chris Young, as the Mammoth Spring Bears pulled away down the final stretch for a 54-39 history-making victory over the Thayer Bobcats.
All the players from both sides of the border, gave it their all, but, as in any competition, there inevitably has to be a victor.
Without doing any statistical research but, in conversation with local residents, it seems that the time span of some 40 years has passed since the Arkansas team has bested the Missouri team in the boys' "Border War."
So, thus, the Friday night Dec. 17 Bear victory over the Bobcats will be placed in the history books.