The Southwest Trojans survived a rough and tumble first half and went on to post a 72-59 win over Aurora on Dec. 11.
James Pettit lit up the scoreboard with 21 points, and his Trojans connected on 21 of 26 free throw chances to seal the victory.
Aurora outmuscled Southwest early and took an 8-2 lead at the 5:21 mark of the opening period. The Houn' Dawgs scored at will in the paint with two baskets following offensive rebounds.
The Trojans countered with the outside shooting of Pettit and trailed by only 19-16 at the end of the quarter.
Drew Farrer pulled Southwest to a 19-19 tie, starting the second period with a long trey from between the circles. Aurora inched back in front, but Southwest earned a 24-24 tie when Jordan Epling swished a trey and Blake Barnes flew to a fast break layup.
Barnes scored again in the final minute to give the Trojans their first lead, but Aurora's Garrett Bader followed a missed shot and scored at the buzzer to give the Houn' Dawgs a 29-28 halftime lead.
Pettit and Epling drained back-to-back threes to give Southwest a 34-31 lead to start the third period, and the Trojans never trailed again. Despite the height and muscle advantages, the Houn's started losing the battles for rebounds and loose balls.
Pettit cut through the lane for a backdoor layup to give Southwest a 44-37 lead at the 1:28 mark. Even though Aurora scored twice to end the period, the Trojans clung to a 44-41 lead at the final break.
The momentum swung solidly in Southwest's favor as the final period got underway. Barnes sliced through traffic for a layup, and Epling scored on a short jumper and a pair of free throws. Pettit's long trey from the left corner gave the Trojans a 53-44 lead with 4:34 to play.
With the game slipping away, Aurora went to the foul-and-hope strategy with over two minutes remaining. The Trojans shot 22 of their 26 free throws in the final 2:23, converting 17 of those crucial shots.
Even when Epling, Farrer and Josh Cutberth fouled out, Southwest showed courage and resolve in turning back the Big 8 Conference team. Barnes and Brad Daniels made shot after shot to stymie Aurora's comeback hopes.
The Trojans extended their winning streak to three games and improved to 3-2 on the season.
Scoring for Southwest: James Pettit, 21 points; Epling, 18; Barnes, 16; Farrer, 5; and Justin Pettit, Josh Cutberth and Brad Daniels, 4 each.
Scoring for Aurora: Bader, 21 points; Corey Gregory, 15; Clayton Sumners, 12; Jordan Fronbarger, 6; and Andrew Parker, 5.