After the Bay Yellowjackets knocked the Bears out of the Class 1A State Tournament in the semi-final round a year ago, you can bet Mammoth Spring was itching at a chance for payback when the stakes got high this year.
That payback came in the championship game of the Class 1A Region 2 Tournament in Brockwell on Feb. 25.
Both teams had already played their way into the Class 1A State Tournament in Magnolia before their showdown in the regional finals.
And just like a showdown between two of the state's top-ranked Class 1A teams should be, this one went down to the wire.
Mammoth Spring had clawed in front by eight points, 52-44, with 4:46 left in the game.
To make matters worse for Bay, the Yellowjackets' slashing guard, Gunner Freeman, and big man on the low blocks, Brad Craft, fouled out within 20 seconds of each other late in the period.
But instead of giving in, the Yellowjackets fought back.
Dylan Louven and Damien Holt each hit a pair of huge 3-pointers that eased Bay within two points, 56-54, with 1:55 left in the game.
The Yellowjackets then edged within a single point on two free throws from Tyson Oliver before Mammoth Spring righted its ship.
The Bears hit four straight free throws, two by Houston Cooper (16 points, 10 assists) on a technical foul called on Bay, to grab a 61-56 advantage.
Oliver tossed in a pair of charity tosses with 45 ticks left, but Mammoth Spring sealed the victory with two free throws from Wayne Coffey (17 points, 10 rebounds) and two from Wooldridge. Wooldridge led all scorers with 25 points. He also pulled down 12 boards and handed out six assists.
Bay grabbed an early 5-0 lead to start the contest and was holding onto a 10-7 cushion when Matt Turnbough drilled a trey to knot the game at 10-all with 3:16 left in the first period.
The Yellowjackets pushed their way to a 15-14 at the period's end.
Mason Brown (four points) and Coffey hit some free throws with a shade over a minute left in the second period to tie the contest at 23-all, but Bay responded with a 3-pointer from Oliver and free throw by Zach Johnson to take a 27-23 lead at intermission.
Then in the third, the Bears managed to fight their way out in front.
Wooldridge racked up an old-fashioned 3-point play and Cooper drilled a pair of deep 3s in the stanza, including one with a minute left, to give Mammoth Spring a 41-38 lead after three.
And in the fourth period, Wooldridge made sure the Bears held onto that lead by racking up 11 points, helping Mammoth Spring to a hard-earned 65-58 victory.
In addition to Wooldridge's MVP honors, Cooper, Coffey and Mason Brown all played their way onto the All-Regional Tournament team.
Oliver paced Bay with 16 points, with Freeman adding 14.
The Bears had no trouble with Hillcrest in the semi-final round Feb. 24, winning 62-37.
Mammoth Spring led 13-10 after one, 26-21 at the half and then opened things up in the third, taking a 41-27 cushion into the final frame.
Coffey had 19 points and eight rebounds, while Wooldridge added 16 points and grabbed seven boards. Cooper finished with eight, while Mason Brown had six. Jody Busch and A.J. Smith scored two points each. Seth Brown and Cody Green logged two points each, with Josh Parker adding one point.
In opening-round action Feb. 22, the Bears smashed the Weiner Cardinals 73-47.
Mammoth Spring led 14-13 after one and 36-31 at the break.
Then in the third period, the Bears outgunned Weiner 25-10 to take a commanding 61-41 lead into the final frame.
Coffey paced Mammoth Spring with 18 points.
Wooldridge had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Turnbough finished with 15, while Brown had 12.
Cooper scored eight points and handed out nine assists.