It's also not something new to the Hokes Bluff Lady Eagles.
As expected, their Class 4A, Area 11 basketball championship game was a defensive battle, and the 10th-ranked Lady Warriors were able to make one more defensive stop than the Lady Eagles.
Up by a point with just 0.7 seconds left on the clock, the Lady Warriors denied Hokes Bluff a shot underneath its own basket on an in-bounds play as time expired, allowing Cherokee County to escape with a 30-29 victory.
The win secured a Thursday sub-regional home game for the Lady Warriors (23-6). They'll play the loser of Monday's Area 10 championship game between Munford and Anniston.
Hokes Bluff (18-12) also advances to sub-regional play and will travel to the Area 10 winner.
"I just trusted our girls," Cherokee County coach Travis Barnes said. "We work on underneath-the-basket plays, and we just defended it well. We thought it would probably go to Carlie (Shields) or Hannah (Evans). They threw the ball in, but we held up and they didn't get a shot off."
Senior guard Darbie Rosser, named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, led the Lady Warriors with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. She also had three rebounds.
Rosser said the pace of the game didn't bother her, especially since the Lady Warriors were playing on their home court.
"The atmosphere here kind of helps. It kind of lifts you up when you're out there," Rosser said. "You just want to do whatever you can to help your teammates win the game.
"Hokes Bluff likes to keep it slow, and we just knew we had to stop them because we wouldn't get as many offensive tries as we'd like. We knew we would have to step it up on defense, even if we weren't shooting well, which we weren't in the first half for sure."
Rosser was one of those struggling with her shot, but she kept her composure, along with the rest of her Lady Warrior teammates.
"One thing I really love about her is if she's missing shots, she's going to keep shooting them. Eventually, she's going to hit," Barnes said. "She did a good job of getting lost in their defense and getting open shots."
Both teams did a good job of taking each other's top threats in check. The Lady Warriors' Chelsea Ray guarded Shields, limiting her to just five points. Hokes Bluff did an equally impressive job on Lady Warrior senior forward Tori Davis, holding her to just eight points, seven rebounds and three assists.
"We run a little gimmick defense which is something we put in just for Hokes Bluff, and w executed it very well," Barnes said. "Our philosophy was pretty much to let everybody else beat us but Carlie. We knew it would be Hannah (Evans), and she kind of carried them tonight (with 11 points, including two 3-pointers). She did a great job."
The game was tight throughout. The Lady Eagles held a 10-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter. They stretched their lead to 15-8 on a 3-pointer by Shields with just over six minutes to go before halftime, but the Lady Warriors managed to cut their deficit down to 17-14 at halftime.
The two were deadlocked at 23 heading into the fourth quarter.
"I challenged the girls at halftime to keep with the pace and keep with the plan," Barnes said. "It's easy when you're having to play defense that long to rush your offense. Our girls did a good job of not rushing the offense, not pushing the issue too much. We started cutting more in the second half and started getting a little better ball movement. We got a lot more open shots and we shot better in the second half than we did in the first half."
Katy Alford finished with seven points for the Lady Eagles. Jessen Burk added seven points and three rebounds for the Lady Warriors. Ray finished with five points.
Burk, Ray and Davis joined Rosser on the all-tournament team. Shields, Evans and Elizabeth White represented Hokes Bluff.
"I'm just extremely proud of our girls, especially our seniors," Barnes said. "It would have been a tough loss tonight if this was the last game they got to play on their home court, but they know they get to play one more next week. Hopefully we'll do a good job and get to the regional tournament."