They only held the lead twice, did the Izard County Cougars.
The first, a seemingly insignificant 3-2 advantage early in the ball game. For most of the rest of the game, they trailed -- sometimes by as many as 10 points.
But the second time the Cougars grabbed the lead, was when it counted the most -- right at the end.
Trenton Hatman rose up and nailed a huge shot that barely beat the final buzzer, giving Izard County a thrilling 48-46 victory over the Viola Longhorns Dec. 17 in an important 1A-2 North clash at the Longhorn Corral.
With the Mammoth Spring Bears leading the conference race heading into the night, both Izard County and Viola knew this match up would be pivotal, if they had any hope of keeping pace with the Bears.
And both teams played like everything was on the line in this one.
With the score knotted at 46-all and with 53 ticks on the clock in the fourth, the Cougars had possession of the ball and wanted to run the clock down and take one final shot.
But a walking violation on Izard County (14-3, 6-2) gave the ball to Viola (13-5, 4-2).
The Horns worked the clock down and ran a backdoor lob to try and score the game-winning hoop, but the Cougars defended well and broke up the play.
With time quickly running out, Ryan Walker (six points) grabbed the ball and tossed it to Hatman near Viola's goal.
Hatman weaved his way up court through traffic, and just before the clock expired, he pulled up just inside the 3-point arc and let fly with a shot that scorched the net, lifting Izard County to a huge 48-46 victory.
Viola came out clicking right from the outset, grabbing and maintaining the lead for most of the night.
An 8-0 run midway in the first, keyed by baskets from Jordan Cotter (six points), Blake Baumunk (10 points), Dylan Holestine (seven points) and Jackson Rains (six points), gave the Longhorns a 10-5 lead.
Izard County cut into that margin with back-to-back hoops by Dalton Grigg (12 points), plus a layup from Hatman (12 points), but the home team had the last say on a long trey with two seconds left by Austin Gardner (17 points), staking Viola to a 13-9 cushion after one.
Preston Harmon (11 points) drilled an early trey for Izard County in the second, and later added an old-fashioned 3-point play, but Viola kept adding to its lead.
Right before the halftime horn, Gardner hit another long triple, sending the squads to intermission with the Horns up by 10, 30-20.
The Cougars wasted little time in chipping away at that padding in the third.
Caleb Cowan opened the frame with a jumper and Grigg scored four straight points to edge Izard County within five, 30-25.
When the period ended, the Horns were still in front by five, 36-31.
Viola stretched the lead back out to eight in the fourth, but the Cougars were not swayed.
Fueled by triples from Harmon and Hatman, Izard County used an 8-2 burst to pull within two, 46-44, with 2:51 left to play.
A baseline jumper from Jake Dockins (five points) squared the contest at 46-all with 2:24 remaining.
Viola missed a pair of free throws at the 1:23 mark, and that helped set up the game's dramatic finish, with Hatman sinking the game-winning shot right before the clock read : 0.00.
Earlier in the night, the Lady Longhorns knocked off Izard County 42-24.
Viola led 6-0 after the first period and 16-8 at the half.
The Lady Cougars rallied a bit in the third period, but Viola still stood on top 25-14 heading into the fourth period.
Leslie Shrable led all scorers with a game-high 17 points for the Lady Longhorns.
Michaela Thompson followed with 13 points. Kierstin Moore had six, while Alex Duncan and Karlee Dockins posted two points each.
Izard County was led by Sami Wagner's eight points.
Trisha Arnold logged six and Kaydie Campbell four. Michelle Johnson, Ashton Simino and Angel Englehardt finished with two points apiece.
The Cougars slipped past Pocahontas 50-49 in overtime Dec. 14 in Brockwell.
Tied at 45-all after regulation, Izard County outscored the Redskins 5-4 in the extra frame.
Grigg tallied 14 points, while Hatman had 13. Cowan added 10 points and seven boards. Walker pulled down 10 rebounds in the contest.
Pocahontas won the junior boys' game 43-17.
Cody Faulkner paced the junior Cougars with 11 points.