The sign of a true winning team is being able to walk away with the victory even when you are not at your best.
On Tuesday night, the members of the Norristown boys varsity basketball team showed why they are winners.
After playing most of the game out of sync and frustrated, the Eagles saved their best play for last, and walked out of a hostile Upper Dublin gym with a 47-46 victory.
It will not go down as one of the best games of the season, but with only a few games to go, it was one the Eagles needed.
This game started off as a defensive struggle, with both teams playing well on defense and lacking on offense. Norristown jumped on the board first when senior Jahquan Hargrove scored two straight baskets to put the Eagles on top early.
Upper Dublin has scored points this season with good ball movement, and a pass from Khalil Owens to Darrell Harrison gave the Cardinals their first basket of the game.
Things got testy early in the first quarter, as Norristown's Aaron Webb was called for a technical foul only two minutes into the game. The early outburst would be a sign of things to come for the Eagles, as they seemed frustrated for most of the first quarter.
The Cardinals were able to take advantage, tying the game on a dribble drive by Harrison late in the quarter. But a steal by Norristown's Rasheed Johnson would give the Eagles the edge at the end of the first, 8-6.
While both teams struggled from the floor in the first quarter, things started to heat up in the second. Norristown would start the second quarter off with two straight baskets, increasing their lead to six after a Maleek Williams jumper.
Upper Dublin finally started to hit shots from down low and managed to tie the game up at 12-12 on two John DeCamara free throws with two minutes remaining in the quarter.
Norristown would end the quarter by hitting only one of four free throws, and the Cardinals took advantage, taking a 20-14 lead into the half.
This was a game that both teams needed to win, and the desperation on both sides started to show in the third. Upper Dublin's Tyreek Magruder drove into the lane on the first possession of the quarter to increase the Cardinals' lead to six, and a lay-up by Harrison put them up eight.
Norristown started to lose composure, and the whole bench was called for a technical foul after arguing a call. The Norristown players seemed to have a problem with the officiating all night and found themselves in the penalty only a few minutes into the quarter.
Upper Dublin would hit free throws to increase their lead to 11. The Cardinals had a nine-point lead going into the final quarter.
With still a whole quarter to play, going into the fourth, Upper Dublin appeared to have total control of the game. It seemed even more certain that the Cardinals would walk away with the victory when Upper Dublin's Owens scored from down low to put his team up five with only three minutes in the game.
The way Norristown had been playing, the chance of a comeback seemed slim, but the Eagles slowly started to chip away at the Upper Dublin lead. A steal by Aaron Webb followed by a layup cut the lead to three. Norristown would steal an inbounds pass after the basket and lay it in, cutting the lead to only one.
Upper Dublin, who all night did a good job taking care of the ball, appeared to turn it over on the next possession, as well, but Norristown was whistled for the foul. Magruder stepped to the line, but was only able to knock down one to put the Cardinals back up two with less then a minute to play.
But the Eagles were not to be denied their comeback, and a layup by Williams tied the game. Magruder found himself back on the line, but once again was only able to knock down one.
It would be the next possession that Norristown's DaQuan Holcomb would step to the line and bury both, giving the Eagles their first lead since the second quarter. A last desperation shot by Magruder rimmed out at the buzzer, giving Norristown a 47-46 win.
The Eagles did not get the benefit of many calls, and it clearly put them off their game at points. But Norristown's head coach, Mike Evans, was not as quick to blame the team's poor play on the referees.
"It was a very emotional game," said Evans. "But give Upper Dublin some credit – they played a great game."
Despite the team not playing at its best, Evans said he still learned something about his players on Tuesday night.
"We could have played a lot better," he said. "But I am happy with the kids. They fought until the very end. That's what you want from your team."
With only a few games to go, Evans said he likes where his team is right now.
The Eagles will get the chance to make it seven wins in a row when they take the court against Bayard Rustin.
See the full Norristown schools' sports schedule here.