At the start of the fourth quarter, the Capital City Cavaliers were holding onto a comfortable 12-point lead.
With a minute to go in the game, they were hanging on for dear life.
The Cuba Wildcats had their chance to take the lead, but Cedric Warren knocked down the deciding 3-pointer with :39 to play, lifting the Cavaliers to a 63-62 win Thursday night at Capital City High School.
It's Capital City's first win against a varsity opponent in program history, as well as the Cavaliers' first win in their home gym.
"You put in so much work and you want to see the fruits of your labor," Capital City coach Darrin Young said. "Finally, we saw that come to fruition on the scoreboard. I'm proud of our guys and happy for everyone in the program."
Capital City led 57-45 at the start of the fourth quarter. It wouldn't be long until the free-throw line played a key factor in the game.
The Cavaliers began the final quarter with eight fouls. They would commit eight more fouls in the fourth, sending Cuba to the free-throw line for 15 attempts.
"We'll go back and we'll watch the film," Young said. "When we get into practice, we'll look and see the different things we need to emphasize. Obviously, playing without fouling is one of those things that we definitely have to improve."
Game story continues below the Twitter video.
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Cuba struggled at the free-throw line, making just 17-of-37 attempts in the game, but Logan Chilton went 1-of-2 with 1:33 remaining to tie the game at 60.
Capital City struggled shooting the ball in the fourth quarter, making just 2-of-14 shots. Warren missed a 3 on the other end, but the Cavaliers got the offensive rebound. Warren got a second chance and knocked down a 3 from the left wing to put the Cavaliers ahead 63-60 in the final minute.
"He's put in so much work," Young said of Warren, who was playing in his first game since Jan. 25 after suffering a concussion. "You can tell, with him being out for so long, he was very anxious and hungry to play. We fed off his energy tonight."
Cuba's Tucker Brown drove to the basket for a layup with :22 left, cutting the lead to 63-62. The Wildcats fouled Corde Brown with :16 remaining, and after he missed the front end of a 1-and-1, the Wildcats had the opportunity to hold for the final shot.
Al Palmer was fouled with :04.6 remaining, giving Cuba a chance to tie or take the lead. Palmer missed both free throws, and Warren grabbed the rebound on the second miss and was fouled with :03.2 left.
Warren missed both free throws, but Thomas Kesete got the offensive rebound for the Cavaliers. Although Kesete missed the putback, time expired before either team could grab possession of the loose ball.
Young called a timeout after Warren's first free throw.
"We talked about different scenarios," Young said. " We emphasized that we have to make sure that we do not foul."
Cuba led 20-19 after one quarter, but Warren knocked down a 3 to give the Cavaliers a 25-22 lead with 6:07 left in the second.
Capital City then forced three consecutive turnovers on defense, and followed that with points on three straight offensive possessions to stretch the lead to 30-22.
"That's one thing that we really try to simulate in practice, the importance of getting a bucket and get a stop, and then getting another bucket and another stop," Young said. "Just doing things in succession."
The Cavaliers forced 25 turnovers, including 10 in the second quarter.
Later in the second quarter, the Cavaliers in-bounded the ball from underneath their basket. The ball worked its way around the perimeter from one corner to the other — being touched by all five players — before Ashden Cason knocked down a 3 to push the lead to 33-23.
"That's a play we just put in a couple days ago," Young said. "It was good to see that execution."
Capital City led 39-33 at halftime. The Cavaliers began the third quarter by making 4-of-5 shots from 3 to make the score 48-39.
Warren, who scored a game-high 23 points, added another 3 from the left wing with 4:39 left in the third to give Capital City its largest lead of the game at 53-40. Warren shot 7-of-16 from 3 after missing the team's last five games.
Blake Meredith added 18 points for the Cavaliers before he fouled out with 2:37 to play, and Cason finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
"It was a team effort," Young said.
Chilton led Cuba (6-15) with a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Capital City (3-17), which has played four games in five days, will turn around at play Thursday at Mexico.
In Tuesday's JV game, Capital City defeated Cuba 52-42. Grayson Jones led the Cavaliers with 10 points, while Cooper Rowden and Owen Stieferman each added nine points.