In a physical game where free throws could not have been more important, it was a pair of big plays from a pair of most unlikely sources that couldn't have been more vital in the championship game of the Izard County Invitational Tournament.
With four key players watching from the bench after fouling out, the Izard County Cougars put together one gritty effort at crunch time to knock off Cave City 72-68, in overtime, Jan. 28 at the Cougars' Den in Brockwell.
And this one saw plenty of free throws being shot down the stretch.
For the game, Cave City shot 36-of-63 from the free throw line, while Izard County was 29-of-40 from the stripe.
The top-seeded Cavemen went 18-for-32 from the charity stripe in the fourth period alone.
And they certainly didn't help themselves any by shooting four-for-12 from the line in the overtime frame.
By contrast, Izard County, the tourney's second seed, went six-for-eight from the line in OT, after shooting 14-for-18 in the fourth.
Still, Cave City had a 58-55 lead with 34 seconds remaining in regulation.
Izard County's Preston Harmon (four points), Jake Dockins (eight points), Kyle King (five points) and Trenton Hatman (26 points) were all on the pine after fouling out.
But despite missing their big firepower, the Cougars didn't throw in the towel.
Fresh off the bench, Cameron Massey (five points) drilled a huge trey that knotted the game at 58-all with 24 ticks left in the fourth.
Seth Downs (22 points) calmly broke the tie and gave Cave City the lead back with a pair of much-needed free throws three seconds later.
But Jesse Ball (18 points) had the last say in the fourth with a twisting layup in heavy traffic, that pulled the Cougars even at 60-all, sending the game into overtime.
The Cavemen had a couple of chances to pull even, but missed a pair of shots near the horn.
Ball continued his inspired play by scoring Izard County's first six points of OT, giving Izard County a 66-61 cushion.
Cave City struggled at the charity stripe in overtime, but when Downs got free for a layup and Jeremy Runyan (four points) stepped up and knocked down a pair of big free throws, the Cavemen tied the game at 68-all with 34 ticks on the clock.
But once again, Ball hit a twisting, hard-earned layup in the lane, and Uriah Mead iced things with a free throw, giving Izard County a hard-fought 72-68 victory.
The Cougars trailed by 13 points, 38-25, after three.
Cave City closed the third on a big 11-3 run, breaking open a tight game.
Downs hit a 3-ball, followed by buckets from Chaz Matthews (13 points) and Grant Walling (eight points).
Izard County kept plugging away at that deficit and back-to-back treys from Dockins and Hatman eased the Cougars within five points, 40-35, with four-and-a-half minutes left in the fourth.
The contest slowed to a crawl late with the constant parade to the free throw line on both ends of the court, but in the end, the Cougars used this to their advantage, sending the game to overtime, before winning by four points.
Cave City led 15-12 after one, thanks largely to back-to-back 3-balls from Taylor Milligan (12 points).
The Cavemen built their cushion to 27-20 at the half.
Chris Mosley finished with two points for Izard County.
Justin Hunter logged two points for Cave City, while Jacob Martin had one for the Cave City Cavemen.