Brian Carroll had an inkling it could happen.

So, did Mickey Holland.

The Jim Thorpe and Mahanoy Area head basketball coaches both had a good feeling that the Panther Valley Tip-Off Tournament Championship game could possibly be decided in the final minutes.

"Yes, I did," Holland said. "And, it was. It was a great experience for both teams.

"I think it's going to help both teams in the long run."

Saturday night, Mahanoy Area received the immediate benefit as the Golden Bears posted a 44-39 victory over the Olympians.

"We told the kids before the game that it was going to be a battle 32 minutes to the finish and it was," Carroll said. "We also told them that it was going to be a game of runs. We were just hoping that we could stop their final run and knock them out by the end of the game with a big run of our own. That wasn't the case though."

The game featured six ties and seven lead changes in the opening half, which ended with the Olympians leading 22-21.

After intermission, the Olympians' JaQuan Brown hit a jumper and Darius Clark recorded a right-handed layup to give the locals their biggest of the game at 26-21.

The Golden Bears then caught fire as Tyler Cavanes hit a jumper between two three-pointers from Mike Gaval, which made it a 32-28 Mahanoy Area with 3:11 left in the third.

After Jim Thorpe tied the game, Cavanes hit two free throw to give the Golden Bears a 34-32 lead entering the fourth.

Clark opened the fourth with a three-point play and Khaaliq Lynch followed with a hoop to give Jim Thorpe a 37-34 lead, Gaval pulled his Golden Bears within one with a jumper with 3:48 left in the game.

After that, tournament MVP Neil Goodman came to the rescue for the Golden Bears. Goodman hit a long distance three that gave the Bears the lead for good. He followed that by hitting three of four free attempts. Cavanes put the finishing touches on the win by hitting both ends of a one-on-one.

"A basket here, a drop there and it was ours," Carroll said. "It was such a close game. Still, I'm proud of the effort we gave. I think this game is going to be a spring-board for the rest of the season because now we know we can compete with the good teams.

"We're not that far from being a good one, but we still have a ways to go and it's only December."

Gaval led the Golden Bears with 12 points. Goodman and Cavanes followed with 11 points apiece.

The Olympians' Clark led all scorers with a game-high 13 points. Brown hit double digits with 10 points.

MAHANOY AREA

Goodman 3-3-4-11, Gaval 5-0-0-12, Brill 1-0-0-3, Baker 1-0-0-3, Cavanes 3-5-10-11, Van Horn 0-0-0-0, Kuzma 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 15-8-14-44.

JIM THORPE

Moore 0-0-0-0, Lynch 1-0-2-2, Ciavarella 4-1-1-9, Freeman 0-0-0-0, Brown 5-0-0-10, Clark 5-3-4-13, Johnson 2-1-2-5. TOTALS: 17-5-9-39.

Mahanoy Area 8 13 13 10 - 44

Jim Thorpe 11 11 10 7 - 39

Three-pointers: MA – Goodman 2, Gaval 2, Brill 1, Baker 1; JT – none.