At one point early in the action Tuesday night at Daniel Boone High School, a group in the student section of the Dobyns-Bennett fans lobbed a cheap shot toward the SCHS faithful.
"Where's Devin?" they questioned, referencing Bears star Devin Schmidt, who was dismissed from the team Sunday after a Saturday night arrest.
Without their top player, many had written off the Bears' postseason hopes. As it turned out, the Purple and White could handle themselves quite well despite being short their leader in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocked shots.
District 2-AAA champion Sevier County (28-4) shocked District 1-AAA runner-up Dobyns-Bennett (18-12) — everyone's favorite to win the game — 59-54, earning a spot in the Region 1-AAA finals and a guarateed berth at sectionals.
"I think everybody realized tonight that they had to step up to another level ... to beat (D-B)," said senior Logan McCarter, who finished with 16 points. "And Thursday night is going to be the same way. If we want to make it far, to the state and everything, we've got to step up. Devin's not here anymore."
Coach Ken Wright described a discussion he had with his team prior to the game.
"We've had so much negative, and I said, 'We're not going to let this destroy all the positive we've got,'" Wright said. "'We've got 14 guys in this room that have worked their tails off to get here.' They deserved that opportunity, and they made a stand together and just did a fantastic job. What a great job by every one of those kids."
The Sevier County team — led by McCarter, Jacob Whaley, Cody and Weston Underwood and Trent and Austin Pope — played with a reckless abandon throughout the game, diving for lose balls, making numerous hustle plays and displaying a passionate zeal for the game.
"Coach told us when we came in Sunday (for a team meeting), he said, 'Guys you've got to get this past you,'" Whaley, who led the Bears with 17 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, said. "'You can't think about it. It's done. We've got to worry about D-B, not Devin. So get him off your mind,' and we did."
At the end of the first quarter, the score stood 17-13 in favor of the Bears and the D-B crowd, which had apparently expected a blowout, appeared stunned.
Meanwhile the SCHS student section, which traveled exceptionally well for a 90-mile trip, couldn't have been more pleased.
They continued to root on their Bears, even as the Indians took a 24-21 halftime lead.
D-B's biggest lead of the night, five points, came early in the third quarter and, for a moment, it looked as though the Indians were preparing for a knockout punch.
But the scrappy Bears wouldn't give in to the D-B momentum.
Instead, Whaley, McCarter and Trent Pope combined to push the Bears on a 13-6 run — capped by a McCarter 3-pointer with 1:20 left in the third — to put SC up 36-34.
Another 3-pointer, this time from Weston Underwood, pushed the lead to 39-36 heading into the final quarter.
Dobyns-Bennett came out strong early in the frame, with Andrel Anderson continuing his dominating performance.
The Indians' forward scored four of his team-high 29 right out of the gate and then tossed a fast-break alley-oop to teammate Connor Mitchell for a thunderous jam to give D-B a 42-41 lead with six minutes to play.
But again the Bears would not break.
A Logan McCarter put-back on an offensive rebound regained the lead for the Bears at 43-42, and the team never trailed the rest of the way.
Just seconds later, junior Trent Pope made good on a three-point play to boost the lead to 46-42.
Every time D-B would cut the Sevier County lead back to size, the Bears would answer the call to keep their team out front.
Over the final three minutes, no SCHS player was better than Whaley, as he went 5-for-5 from the line and also converted a pair of field goals.
Teammates Weston Underwood and Trent Pope would also hit from the stripe in the clutch, helping the Bears earn their final five-point margin of victory.
Beyond the combined 33 points of Whaley and McCarter, the Bears got nine points each from Weston Underwood and Trent Pope and four apiece from Cody Underwood and Austin Pope — one of the more well-rounded scoring nights of the season for SCHS.
"They know we aren't a one-man team," Wright said. "We had a great player, but there were other guys that contributed throughout the season, and we knew we just had to execute a little better, defend a little better, and oh my gosh, what a great job."
Wright and McCarter also gave a lot of credit to the dedication of the SCHS fanbase, which traveled 90 miles to the game and outnumbered the crowd of Dobyns-Bennett, which lies just 15 miles from Daniel Boone High School.
"Our fans didn't think we were playing at a disadvantage (despite missing Schmidt)," Wright said. "They showed up in full force, and our student section, they've been great all year. Those kids traveled down here for this basketball game, and what a great motivation for our kids to play hard."
"It felt great know that that many people still backed us and believed in us," the senior said. "I've got to give credit to our student section. They were great the whole game, they were loud. They brought a whole crew down. I'm proud to say I go to Sevier County with those fans.
"We're the only team in Sevier County now that's still playing, and I heard that there were people from all the schools in the county that came to see us tonight, and that really means a lot to us."
The Bears will need Tuesday night's level of support, and more, on Thursday night at 7 p.m. when they take on District 1-AAA champion Science Hill (36-2 overall) for the Region 1-AAA crown.
Science Hill topped Jefferson County 50-49 in the semifinal on the other side of the bracket Tuesday night.
Win or lose in that game, the Bears have still clinched a sectional berth.
Lost in the emotion of Tuesday night's victory was the Bears achieving a new school record. The win was the team's 28th of the year, surpassing the single-season mark of 27 set in 2009-2010 (27-6 overall).