Simply put, nobody was going to deny Lawrence County on this night.
There was too much at stake and when the game reached its critical moment, the Red Devils were at their best.
Lawrence County defeated Madison Academy Tuesday night 57-49 in the sub regional round of the AHSAA playoffs. In doing so they secured their first berth at the Northwest Regional tournament, held every year at Wallace State, for the first time since 2007.
"This is awesome. Awesome," said Senior Ty Hutto. "I'm so happy right now. This is amazing."
The Red Devils held control for much of the game, but near the end of the third quarter they faced a season defining moment.
Madison Academy had closed the third quarter on a 7-0 run and led 42-36 going into the final period.
With their season on the line the they were staring face to face with the biggest test they had faced all season.
They responded the way only great teams can.
The Red Devils forced turnovers and knocked down free throw after free throw as they outscored the Mustangs 21-7 in the final quarter and went on to secure the win.
"Defensively and hitting our free throws, that was really where we stepped up," said Hutto who led the team with 24 points including 9 points off free throws in the fourth quarter. "Everyday we work on our free throws and, as you could see tonight, it's helped a lot."
Lawrence County, who now holds a 27-4 record, will head to Wallace State for the first time since Night at the Museum was the top grossing movie in America. They will play Jasper Saturday morning at 10:30.
When hall of fame coaches Royal Carpenter and Gary Steadman took over three years ago, they never quite envisioned this.
"We keep asking ourselves that," Steadman laughed. "They always say give coaches three years so I guessed it worked out for us."
The two hall of famers, who have had their fair share of top basketball teams over the years, were impressed with the way their team responded Tuesday in the game's defining moments.
"We couldn't hit anything from three point range. That's been our bread and butter and we only made two tonight," Carpenter said. "But they found a way to win and I couldn't be more proud."
Now as they prepare for Wallace, the coach's message is clear.
"We just wanted to get here, to have the opportunity," Carpenter said. "Now we've got just as much a chance as anybody else. Anything can happen, I don't care who we play."