The Thayer Bobcats and the Winona Wildcats had defeated their previous foes in district play, gaining the right to challenge for the 2012 district title.
Thayer controlled the opening tip, but came up empty on its first possession.
Winona got a shot attempt from their senior guard Chase Hollis, that was off the mark, to send the Bobcats up the floor.
Dylan Dennis challenged Winona's 6-7 center Jeff Smith in the paint with a layup attempt. With the blocked shot, the Wildcats drove back to the offensive end.
Ricky Smith got good position and stood his ground under the bucket, taking a charge. Brandon Childers found Levi Hargrove with a pass down on the baseline. Hargrove's drive around the big man in the middle and finally banked in the first points of the game.
After a Winona score, Austin Henry found nothing but net from outside the arc in the corner for a 3-point shot. Childers dished the ball off to Smith in the lane.
On defense, Hargrove held his position to get a charge call on the Wildcats. Thayer only held a one-point advantage at the end of one, 12-11.
Smith sank a 3-point shot from the corner, right in front of the state champion Bobcat cheerleaders, early in second quarter play.
Great defense from Dennis, Childers and Henry, opened up another Smith trey from the corner.
With outstanding defense and patience on offense, the Bobcats worked the ball around the horn for Henry, driving down the baseline for another two Bobcat points.
With slightly over two minutes left to play in the second, Winona was scoreless for the quarter.
With Thayer up 20-14 and under one on the clock, Hollis launched a long-range shot that bounced off the glass and in, plus he drew a trip to the free throw line. Hollis dropped in the charity toss, ending the half with the Bobcats on top 21-18.
Rebounds and drives to the hoop by Dennis got the Bobcat faithful to their feet, early in the third frame.
Thompson drained a 3-point shot, which brought the Wildcats within two points of the Bobcats.
Henry found his favorite spot in the corner to tingle the net for his third trey of the night. Back on defense, he got a steal and then a trip to the free throw line.
Winona played strong defense and got good play from freshman Jacob Smith, younger brother of 6-7 junior Jeff Smith.
After two shot attempts at the hoop by the Bobcats, Hargrove picked up a loose ball for a strong layup.
Hollis drained a 3-point bucket just before the third quarter buzzer, to keep the Wildcats close, but the Bobcats held the upper hand with a 33-28 lead.
Then came the final eight minutes, to see which team advances to the regional tournament in Popular Bluff.
Dennis came away with a steal and a bucket.
Coach Matt Pitts changed offensive strategy slightly, to pull Winona's defenders away from the bucket by moving Hargrove to the post and slipping Smith to the baseline.
Hargrove responded with pullup jumpers at the elbow.
With the Wildcat defense collapsing into the middle, Hargrove dished off bounce passes to Smith along the baseline.
Hollis found a rhythm for a couple more good shots and dishes in deep to Winona's Smith, but the Wildcats could not get over the hump to catch up with the Bobcats.
The drive and determination of the Thayer Bobcat team prevailed for the 2012 District championship with a 45-41 win over the Winona Wildcats.
The win over Winona set Thayer up with a trip to Poplar Bluff to face the Hayti Indians March 7.