Mammoth Spring vs. Viola: It was just the kind of Battle Royale one would have expected.
And after all, with the way the clash for the regular-season crown went, with four teams fighting tooth-and-nail right till the end, why should the championship scrap for the 1A-2 North District Tournament title have been any different?
With each team playing each possession like it was their last, the Mammoth Spring Bears managed to come out with the championship trophy, fending off an equally determined bunch of Viola Longhorns, 48-46, Feb. 18, at Panther Pavilion in Norfork.
The victory gives Mammoth Spring (30-6), ranked number five in Class 1A hoops, the district tourney title to go along with their regular-season championship.
But Viola (24-9), who tied with Izard County for second place in the regular season, did not make things easy for the Bears.
Especially in the last frantic two minutes of action.
Mammoth Spring held a 41-40 lead when Viola was called for a walking violation, wiping out a chance for the Horns to move on top.
Garrett Wooldridge, who had a monster game down low for the Bears, with a game-high 25 points, stuck back a missed shot to push Mammoth Spring's lead to 43-40 with 1:42 left to play.
Austin Gardner (12 points) and Jordan Cotter (six points) each hit big buckets for the Horns, keeping Viola within a point, down 45-44, at the minute mark.
Viola forced a 10-second backcourt count on Mammoth Spring, giving the Longhorns another shot at pulling ahead late in the game.
The Horns got a good look at the go-ahead basket, but the shot would not go in with 20 ticks left on the clock.
Caleb Brown (eight points) tacked on a free throw for the Bears and, with 14 seconds showing, Wooldridge hit a spinning basket to build the Bears' lead to 48-44.
Jackson Rains (17 points) then came up large for Viola with a layup that edged his team within two, 48-46, with seven seconds left.
The Bears had a golden opportunity to make things even more difficult for Viola, but two missed charity shots with five seconds left gave the Longhorns a glimmer of hope.
The Horns inbounded the ball and got it to midcourt, but it was poked away as the buzzer sounded, leaving the Bears clutching a thrilling 48-46 victory over Viola.
Wooldridge poured in eight of his points in the first period, but a pair of treys from Dylan Holestine (six points) helped Viola to an 18-17 lead after one.
Houston Cooper (nine points) and Matt Turnbough each splashed in a triple in the second to give the Bears the lead, but Viola finished with the last six points of the frame to edge in front 28-25 at the half.
Mammoth Spring took hold of the lead for good, 35-34 after three periods of play.
Mason Brown finished with three points for the Bears.
Blake Baumunk logged five points for Viola.