The anticipation was there for a great basketball game between two long-time rivals.
Tyner's gym was packed to capacity in the second quarter of the girls game as fans waited for the tipoff between the unbeaten Rams and the once-beaten Brainerd Panthers.
The game was competitive, but never really close. But those bleachers which were packed with fans from both teams before the start were clearing out long before the game ended as the Rams rolled to a 59-37 victory.
With the win, Tyner remains unbeaten after six games and now holds the top spot in District 6-AA with a 4-0 mark while the Panthers are now 10-2 overall and 3-1 in 6-AA.
Brainerd raced to an 8-2 lead in the first two minutes and had a 10-4 advantage following a putback by Marques Tipton with 4:44 showing on the first-quarter clock.
By the time Tipton converted a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left in the opening stanza, Tyner had scored a dozen unanswered points and the difference was 16-12 at the first break.
Daaron Mastin scored a couple of buckets to open the second stanza as the lead doubled. The Panthers never really recovered and were on the short end of the 27-19 score at intermission.
Demarcus Otis scored two straight buckets to open the second half as Brainerd got to within 27-23, but it never got any closer as the Rams slowly pulled away.
The Panthers were in foul trouble early in the second half as Tyner was shooting free throws midway through the third quarter. They made 8 of 11 as the lead stretched to 47-34 when the third quarter ended.
Perhaps the best play of the game took place at the horn when Sadik Spence banked a desperation 3 from just inside the half-court line on an inbounds play with 1.5 seconds left.
Orlando Moore scored on a layup 45 seconds into the final quarter as Brainerd got to within 11 at 47-36, but the only point scored by the Panthers the rest of the way was a free throw by Demitric Otis with just over a minute remaining.
Landon Strickland put the finishing touches on the 22-point win with a pair of free throws with 26.4 seconds remaining to conclude the scoring.
Tyner coach Gerald Harris knew that the emotions would be running high for such a game. He was just happy with the way his kids handled themselves.
"We had a good crowd as the atmosphere was great, but I thought we played with a lot of poise and didn't let the emotion get out of control. It was a statement game for us, but we'll see them several more times down the road," Harris began.
"We knew that we had to play good defense and that rebounding would be critical. We just needed to play Ram basketball, so overall I'm pleased. Even with the big lead in the second half, we didn't want to get complacent.
"I thought that Kevin Cameron did a good job and he's just a freshman and I thought that Sadik did a good job running the offense. And I thought that Rodney Watson did a good job with those steals in the first quarter that really got us going," the veteran coacn praised.
Brainerd coach LaVar Brown certainly didn't make any excuses for his team.
"Tyner came to play and we didn't," he began after the game ended.
"They were hungry and they wanted it worse than we did. They wanted every loose ball and they wanted every rebound. But we needed this hit in the mouth. I'm sure we'll learn from it as we can't take anything for granted.
"We knew we were in for a tough game, but we didn't play or coach to our ability. I know we're better than this," Brown nodded.
Mastin and Spence both scored 15 points to lead the Tyner offense while Watson was also in double figures with 12.
Moore was the only Brainerd player in double digits as he finished with 15. Tipton was next with eight and they all came in the first quarter. He picked up his fourth foul three minutes into the third quarter and fouled out almost immediately after coming back in and was never a factor after the first eight minutes.
Tyner also won the rebound battle by a 31-21 margin with Alex Watkins leading the Rams with eight. DeVante Jones, Watson, Mastin and Cameron all snagged four. Moore was the leader for Brainerd with eight while Da'V Moore claimed five in limited time.
Brainerd's next game is December 26 in a tournament in Atlanta when they face Columbia. Tyner will face Whitehaven in the Lausanne Holiday Classic in Memphis on Friday night. The Rams will be at Chattanooga State next Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the Best of Preps tournament.
BRAINERD GIRLS 52, TYNER 40: Jamee Ward won the battle and the Lady Panthers won the war.
Ward scored 29 points for the game, including 16 in the first quarter, while Porchia Turner led Tyner with 20 points, 11 of which came in the opening eight minutes.
Jameka Brown added 11 points for the victorious Lady Panthers while Ericia McLemore was next for the Lady Rams with seven points.
BRAINERD 21 6 6 19 -- 52
TYNER 14 8 4 14 -- 40
BRAINERD (52) -- Ward 29, Brown 11, Walker 7, Price 4, Ashley, McCleen, McClendon 1, Sparks, Cosme, Calloway, Young, Williams.
TYNER (40) -- Bedford, Parks 2, McLemore 7, Conyers 4, Wilkes 4, Christopher 2, May, Smmith 2, Montgomery, Rodgers 1, McAfee, Turner 20.
3-POINT GOALS: Brainerd 8 (Ward 7, Brown); Tyner none.
BRAINERD 12 7 15 3 -- 37
TYNER 16 11 20 12 -- 59
BRAINERD (37) -- Stewart, Shropshire 2, Tipton 8, Demitric Otis 1, Demarcus Otis 6, Glenn, Graham 3, Stubbs, Bass, O. Moore 15, D. Moore 2.
TYNER (59) -- Spence 15, Watson 12, Mastin 15, Cameron 6, Watkins 2, Bonds, Howard, Jones 3, Wilson, Strickland 2, Hardwick 4.
3-POINT GOALS: Brainerd 1 (Tipton); Tyner 2 (Spence, Mastin).
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)