The Gordon Lee Trojans welcomed the Coosa Eagles to Chickamauga on Saturday and faced off in what can only be described as a good old-fashioned staring contest.
And it was the Eagles who finally blinked.
In a fourth quarter that saw both teams match each other run for run and nearly shot for shot, Kenon Dixon misfired on a 3-pointer with two seconds to play and the Trojans claimed a 59-56 barnburner.
The loss was hardly Dixon's fault, however. The Coosa guard lit up the Ware-Jewell Activities Center with 37 points, including 10 three-pointers. He scored 23 of his points and hit six threes in the second half to almost single-handedly lead his team to the victory.
But it was an important gut-check win for the Navy-and-White, who came back from 11 down in the fourth quarter at Bowdon to win a subregion game less than 24 hours earlier.
"Back-to-back games are tough because some of our kids are banged up and not able to play in both of them," Gordon Lee head coach Matt Smith said. "But Gordon Lee kids play with pride and passion. I'm glad we were able to get these back-to-back wins, because this is what we're going to see in the region tournament."
The Trojans led 24-18 at halftime, but the Eagles would tie the score at 26 three minutes into the third quarter, setting the tone for what would take place over the final 13 minutes of the game.
Coosa would take a brief 33-30 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter, but Gordon Lee would answer with a 7-1 spurt and took a 37-34 advantage into the fourth.
Dixon, who lived at the top of the key all game long, connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game at 39 with seven minutes left and Coosa would answer Gordon Lee's ensuing 6-0 run with one of their own to knot the game at 45 with four minutes to go.
The score would be tied again three more times, the last coming at 54 apiece after Dixon answered Wiley Heming's 3-point play with his final 3-pointer of the night with exactly one minute remaining.
Kannen Derryberry, who hit five threes of his own, put the Trojans back in front with his final 3-pointer with 39 seconds to play. Coosa would answer with a driving lay-up to pull within one and was forced to foul. Derryberry then calmly stepped to the line and hit both ends of a one-and-bonus with 14.4 seconds left to give his team a 3-point lead.
The Trojans would play tight defense on Dixon, but the sharpshooter was still able to get a decent look at the basket in the waning seconds. However, the shot was off the mark and Jacob Dyer grabbed the rebound as the horn sounded.
"Coosa is a really good team," Smith said. "Normally one guy can't beat you, but (Dixon) nearly did. But our kids played hard and persevered."
Dixon was the only Eagle to get in double figures. Derryberry had 22 points to pace Gordon Lee (9-6). Heming had 13 points and played a solid game at both ends of the court, while Zander Smith finished with eight.
Gordon Lee girls 49, Coosa 44
The Lady Trojans connected on 7-of-8 free throws in the final 1:41 and held on for a non-region win in Chickamauga.
Gordon Lee led for most of the game and enjoyed a 33-24 lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Class 2A Lady Eagles would make a run in the fourth and they would eventually tie the game at 39 on a basket by Gracie Shumate with just over two minutes to play.
The turning point of the game would occur just seconds later.
After Gordon Lee (8-7) answered with a basket to go up by two, Coosa was called for an offensive foul under the basket and Coosa's bench was whistled for a technical foul after voicing their displeasure with the charging call.
Abby Dalton would make the two bonus free throws and, on the Lady Trojans' ensuing possession, Katelyn O'Toole would grab a big offensive rebound and draw a foul with 1:30 left to play. O'Toole would make 1-of-2 to put her team up five.
Coosa would get two free throws from Shumate with 42 seconds left to make it a one-possession game, but Faith Alexander would hit two free throws and, following a miss by Coosa, Sam Belue would grab the rebound and draw a foul.
Belue would hit 1-of-2 at the charity stripe with 24 seconds left and Alexander would add two more free tosses with 10 seconds to go, salting the game away.
O'Toole had a season-high 16 points, followed by Dalton with 12. Gracey Kruse had seven points, followed by Alexander with six.
Taylor Roberts had 19 points for Coosa, while Shumate had 15. The duo combined for 23 points in the second half to spur the comeback attempt.