"The first 29 minutes, they outplayed us," Cass coach Greg Scott told his team following its narrow escape. "We saw our season slipping through our fingers ... [and] in the last three minutes, we turned it around."
Junior shooting guard Tony Mitchell had much to do with the Colonels' turnaround in the fourth quarter.
Following Tarris Batiste's step-back 3-pointer over Wolves big man Taylor Shropshire, which cut the lead to six points at 40-34, Mitchell hit four consecutive free throws to bring the deficit to four.
Off an assist from Jay Stephens, Mitchell dropped in a 3 to bring the tally to 44-41. He found teammate Trey Walker a few plays later for a bucket, which left the score at 48-45.
After Rome's Larry Bullock missed a one-and-one free throw with 1:03 remaining in the game, Cass moved the ball up the court, with Stephens grabbing an offensive board that the Wolves' Zach Poole got a hand on to tie up possession.
The arrow gave the ball back to the Wolves, and Bullock again headed to the line for a one and one. He missed another free throw as Batiste came down with the rebound.
The Colonels set up a play with around 25 seconds to play, as Sam Taylor popped out to the top of the key while Mitchell ran the baseline.
Having seen a similar play from Cass earlier in the quarter, Rome went toward Taylor, leaving Mitchell alone in the corner for a game-tying 3.
"We had three [players] going two ways," Scott explained of the play. "We had a stagger screen from the top and a single screen at the bottom. ... Tony likes the corner shot, and he hits it a lot in practice."
The Wolves had a bit of the time on the clock to win it after Mitchell's make, but Rome turned the ball over as Mitchell came up with a steal and got the ball ahead to Stephens.
Stephens drove in for a shot before dropping the ball off to Mitchell, who scored the basket as time expired.
Much to the dismay of Cass' fans, though, the shot came after the buzzer sounded and the game headed to an extra period tied at 48-all.
In overtime, Stephens' steal and lay-in put the Colonels ahead 51-50. He and Batiste then split a pair of free throws as Cass led 53-50.
Shropshire doled out an assist to Veshawn Bell the next time down to bring the deficit back to one point for the Colonels.
The Wolves fouled to put Mitchell on the line with 22.7 seconds remaining, and the Cass guard missed both of his free throw attempts.
Shropshire snagged the rebound, but before Rome coach Keeth Jones could call a timeout -- he actually argued otherwise -- the 6-foot-4 power forward threw an errant pass that the Colonels' Walker picked up.
Walker went 1 for 2 from the line to extend the lead to 54-52 at the 18.1-second mark.
On the Wolves' next possession, Bullock penetrated to right-side of the court and took a bump from Batiste to draw a foul as his bank shot nearly fell.
With 2.2 seconds on the clock, Bullock missed his third straight free throw, making it necessary for a second, intentional miss.
Bullock's shot got the bounce Rome needed, with Shropshire corralling the rebound. As he turned and shot, however, the big man's momentum carried him with the ball spinning off to the left as the horn sounded.
Mitchell finished with a game-high 18 points to lead the Colonels, and Batiste and Stephens added 12 apiece.
Shropshire's 13 points led Rome and Bullock came in with 11, but both players combined for just eight after halftime.
"We turned up the heat on defense," Scott said after Cass' win. "I think a lot of whether they got the ball to [Shropshire] or not had to do with ball pressure. We put a lot of pressure on the ball."
The Colonels did not disrupt the Rome's offense much in the first half, nor did they shoot as well, a sharp contrast to a 55-41 win over the Wolves just nine days earlier.
Cass led 9-7 after a low-scoring first quarter, but Rome outscored them in the second to take a 20-17 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Wolves nabbed a double-digit lead by scoring 11 of 13 points during a stretch, which gave them a 31-21 lead.
Mitchell responded with five points to get the lead to 31-26 before Rome's Bell converted a three-point play for a 34-26 lead. The Wolves had a nine-point cushion, 38-29, entering the fourth quarter.
Shropshire's offensive putback to start the fourth gave Rome its biggest lead of the night at 40-29 before Batiste scored to make it a nine-point game.
Down the stretch, the Wolves played tight whereas Cass, who played that way earlier in the game, managed to steady itself.
"I thought Rome played a little bit not to make a mistake at the end," Scott said. It was his Colonels that gave themselves a shot, though.
"We just kind of willed ourselves to win," he said. "As long as the game's close and they're time on the clock, these guys feel like they have a shot."
The win guaranteed Cass no worse than a fourth seed for next week's Georgia High School Association Class AAAA tournament, but Scott remembered a "family gathering" he and his team had back in November before the team had yet to play a game.
The Colonels' players, notably their seniors, talked about winning the region tournament.
"We're not satisfied right now with being fourth or maybe third," he said. "What we're playing for is to get one of those home games [in the state tournament]."
Cass (18-7) plays No. 2 seed Chattahoochee (22-3) Friday at 5:30 p.m.