As the moment finally started to sink in, some 20 minutes after his Hilton Head Prep boys basketball team had held off rival Hilton Head Christian Academy on Tuesday night at Prep's Fraser Field House, Dolphins coach Rich Basirico allowed himself to reflect on the milestone he had just passed.
As usual, he heaped the credit upon his players, past and present, and began ticking off the names of former Dolphins -- and May River Academy Patriots -- whose faces have turned up at Prep games for the past week in hopes of catching their coach on his big night.
"They're all part of that; they're the ones that did it," Basirico said. "They are the ones that did it, so they need the recognition.
"Can I give you all those names that played?"
Indeed, another chapter in a Lowcountry legend spanning three decades and two generations of basketball players was written Tuesday, as the Dolphins recovered from a sloppy start for a 50-43 victory -- the 500th of Basirico's career.
It took Prep three cracks to come through for No. 500 -- Australian club team West Adelaide denied it with a buzzer-beater last Tuesday, and Porter-Gaud rallied past Prep in the second half Friday -- and the same poor shooting that plagued the first two attempts hurt the Dolphins in the first half.
Basirico thinks his players' desire to deliver his milestone played a role.
"We don't talk to the kids about it, but they obviously read the paper and they hear things," Basirico said. "I think they were pressing a little bit."
But the Dolphins finally thawed out in the fourth quarter. Trailing 33-32 after three quarters, Prep opened the final period on an 11-2 run. Dimitri Lowry, who scored a game-high 20 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers during that stretch, and Bo Strimpfel scored six of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Strimpfel added 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
"They really focused on playing Matt (Layman) really tough, which kind of opened it up for some of the other guys," Basirico said. "Our kids played well together. Both teams played with a lot of energy."
The Eagles started off hot, jumping out to a 13-4 lead, but they couldn't sustain it. They managed just one field goal in the second quarter to let Prep take a 16-15 halftime lead, and after the Dolphins' fourth-quarter surge, they couldn't close the gap again.
"I was really proud of the guys, the way they fought back," Eagles coach Vinnie Emery said. "When it got to be eight, we could've folded our tents, but the guys kept scrapping back."
They were within 43-39 with less than two minutes left when swingman Taylor MacDonald drove on Prep's Danny Maggard, stepped back and hit a jumper, but MacDonald was called for an offensive foul -- his fifth -- and instead of going to the line to try to cut it to one, the Eagles faced a four-point deficit without one of their top players.
It was too much for Hilton Head Christian to overcome.
Chants of "FIVE HUN-DRED" rang from the Prep student section behind the Dolphins' bench as the final seconds ticked off, and Basirico embraced his players one by one before a brief ceremony recognizing the milestone.
"You don't see that every day," Emery said. "I wish it wasn't us that he got it against, but he's a great guy. I haven't known him that long, but everybody I know talks about how great a guy he is. I congratulate him."
HILTON HEAD PREP (11-4, 1-1) -- Dimitri Lowry 20, Bo Strimpfel 13, Matt Layman 11, Alex Orford 4, Patrick Andrews 2.
HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN (8-5, 0-2) -- JaBrook Tucker 14, Kyle Weaver 10, Taylor MacDonald 7, Brad Meccariello 6, C.J. Evanofski 4, J.D. Meeder 2.
Hilton Head Prep girls 41, Hilton Head Christian 14
The Dolphins outscored the Eagles 20-2 in the first quarter and cruised to their 11th consecutive win.
Jill Brunori led the Dolphins with 15 points, eight rebounds and 10 steals.
Anna Bensch and Reilly Malphrus scored four apiece to lead Hilton Head Christian, which was limited to three field goals.
HILTON HEAD PREP (17-1, 3-0) -- Jill Brunori 15, Jamese Franklin 8, Kate Brunori 5, Kathleen Blum 5, Brooke Churchich 4, Lane Czura 2, Grace Anderson 2.
HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN (1-12, 0-3) -- Anna Bensch 4, Reilly Malphrus 4, Addy Bensch 2, Jessica Day 2, Kelly Humes 1, Audrey Bensch 1.