In a district and area rivalry, DeRidder against Leesville was worth the price of admission and more.
Tied at 71 with two seconds to go, DeRidder guard Domonique Davis took the ball to the hoop and finished a layup through contact to give the Dragons the two-point lead.
After Davis hit the ensuring free throw, Leesville guard Kerrigan Small's last second Hail Mary was off, giving DeRidder the 74-71 win.
"We found a way to win. At times it was ugly," DeRidder head coach CT Kiely said. "The first half, we didn't guard a soul. In the second half, we didn't do that much better, but we found a way to win. It was a tough week, going to Neville on Tuesday, and I know (Leesville head coach Kristi Perkins) was going to have a good game plan.
"(Davis) knows when she needs a bucket and knows how to calm me down. If you watch her in the game, she gives me the 'I got this' sign. She just finds a way."
On January 18, the two teams played at DeRidder with the Dragons running away with the 85-57 victory. The biggest difference Friday night was the play of Small, who scored 43 points, including six 3-pointers in the first half.
"She's been mentally preparing herself for this game," Perkins, who is also Small's mother, said. "Kerrigan finally decided to start being Kerrigan. She started working on her shot again and letting whatever she concocted at the beginning of the season go. She started doing what Kerrigan does. She was feeling it and wanted it badly."
Perkins also noted that with her 44 points, Small now has more points in a single game than her, her sister and her mother.
At the 3:15 mark of the first quarter, the Dragons led 18-7 after going on a 14-0 run, but Leesville finished the quarter on a 14-2 run, capped off with a half-court buzzer beater by Small to give the Wampus Cats a 21-20 lead.
Tied at 29 midway through the second quarter, Small began to feel it, hitting three consecutive 3-pointers, including a contested "heat check" long ball to give Leesville (17-12, 3-3) the 38-29 lead.
Small scored 26 point in the first half with four 3-pointers in the second quarter.
DeRidder (18-9, 6-0) outscored the Wampus Cats 20-12 in the third to tie it up heading into the final period.
With 3:41 left in the game, Davis hit a layup to put DeRidder up 65-57, but Leesville battled back to tie it up with a pair of free throws from Small with 12 seconds to go before the last second layup from Davis gave DeRidder the lead.
"It's good for us to get punched in the face," Kiely said. "This was playoff basketball here. It was a great environment and was a battle. I'd rather battle and get one of these wins than beat someone by 40. You get more out this and have more coachable moments."
Davis led the Dragons with 32 points, and Jalissa Feagins (14) and Alanna Harris (11) joined her double figures.
Zakayla Collins scored 20 points for Leesville, and despite the loss Perkins is proud of the way her girls played, especially the first half defense.
"They did exactly what I asked of them and what needed to be done," Perkins said. "They knew the personnel and knew where they were. The second half came and we just kind of forgot about what worked. There were no adjustments to be made. I knew Davis was going to come down in the second half and start forcing stuff. Well, some folks started calling things all of a sudden, either what they missed in the first half or what wasn't there in the second half."