The Class 3A Bearkatz traveled the curvey Highway 9 to take on the Mammoth Spring Bears. The Bears aren't playing to expectations after winning the class 1A state championship last season.
As the senior boys teams faced off, Mammoth was able to keep the game close for a while, but eventually succombed to the size and strength advantage of the Bearkatz.
At the end of the first quarter, the Bearkats held a 16-11 advantage, despite eight first quarter points by Mammoth Spring's Collin Powell.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter, the Bears had closed the gap to just one point, but Melbourne still had a 16-15 lead. Over the next five minutes, Melbourne went on a 15-2 run and held a 31-17 lead with just two minutes left in the first half.
At the end of the second quarter, Melbourne had extended its lead to 37-20. Melbourne's Kyler McLaughlin tied Powell as the game's leading scorers at 11 points a piece.
The start of the third quarter was all Mammoth Spring. Mammoth senior Matt Turnbough started the scoring with a three pointer. Seconds later, junior Ryan Roberson hit an acrobatic windmill lay-up to make the score 37-25. Roberson hit another lay-up on Mammoth's next possession. McLaughlin pulled up on a fast break to hit a jumper on the next possession to end the run.
With 4:20 left in the third quarter the score stood at 41-29.
At the end of the third quarter Melbourne held a 48-33 lead.
With just under five minutes left in the game, baskets by Turnbough and Powell kept the gap at 55-40.
With a 12-point lead intact, McLaughlin saw it as his duty to litterally run circles around Mammoth's defense. For 29 seconds, starting a the 2:30 mark in the fourth quarter, Melbourne's star quarterback remembered football season and scrambled through Mammoth players attempting to foul him before eventually being put on the free throw line. McLaughlin hit one of his two shots to make the score 58-45.
The Bearkatz held on to a 64-49 victory led by McLaughlin with 20 points. Melbourne's Nick Miller hit three three pointers in the first half to help the Katz jump out to their early lead.
Even with the team's loss, Powell led all scorers with 24 points.
In an earlier game, the junior Bears lost to Melbourne junior high, 36-25.