Laurel Hill's Dakota Bly exited first with five fouls midway through the third quarter of Tuesday night's home tilt against Central.

Brandon Williams followed early in the fourth quarter.

Samuel Durm's fifth foul came with four minutes left in the game, then later Bryson Cooper was forced to the bench in the waning seconds.

Four players fouled out. Three were left on the court. 

Darcel Austin knew this day could come with only seven players on the varsity roster. But just three games into the season? He never anticipated that.

"I talked to a couple of gentlemen who've been going to Laurel Hill games for 50 or 60 years and they'd never seen anything like this," Austin said. "I've played with four players before, but never three."

The Hoboes (2-0) entered the fourth quarter ahead 53-42. Down a man and then two, Laurel Hill's lead dwindled to five.

"I told them to get in a box set, a box-and-one type setup and give up the inside shot," Austin said. "At that point they were raining 3s, probably six or seven 3s in the fourth quarter. The guys didn't listen at first but then they caught on."

Caught on. And, more importantly, held on for the 77-70 win.

A breakaway layup by TJ White, whose 16 points trailed on Durm's 20, and free throws down the stretch capped a night Austin will never forget. 

"In the preseason in August and September we talked about mental toughness and being resilient," Austin said. "They showed how resilient they are (in the win). They never got down, never asked what are we going to do. They believed in me, they believed in the other coaches and they believed in each other. 

"And they pulled out the victory."

Austin said he'll bring up two players from JV for the Bay game tomorrow night, but he cautioned developing the program's future is more important than having an extra body on the bench.

"They're doing really well with cohesion," Austin said of the JV team. "They really struggled last year, but they worked hard in the summer and got better skill-wise. I don't want to mess with that too much."

Austin  said he has another player who will be eligible to play at the end of December, but that won't do much to alleviate the day-to-day concerns of an undermanned roster for the first-year Hoboes head coach.

"Every time someone falls in practice or is going down the hall and does something crazy like touching the ceiling, I lose my mind," Austin said. "We can't have afford to have any one hurt."

Just watch those fouls, Hoboes.