The word "snakebitten" was among the first to leave Hilton Head Prep boys basketball coach Rich Basirico's mouth, which was still slack-jawed after another devastating loss at the buzzer.
Basirico paused for several seconds, replaying the final sequence in his head and trying to figure out what went wrong.
"We were trying to foul them," Basirico said. "That's youth, I guess."
With a one-point lead and three fouls to give, the Dolphins wanted to waste away as much of Pinewood Prep's final possession as possible on inbounds plays. Instead, the Panthers set the tone, draining the clock until Drew Williams drove the right baseline and threaded a pass to Keith Pinckney, who was waiting on the left wing to bury a 3-pointer at the buzzer and send the Dolphins to a 47-45 loss Friday at Prep's Fraser Field House.
"They had 37 seconds, and it was good defense for 35 seconds," Basirico said.
In reality, it was closer to 32 minutes of solid defense, as the Dolphins held the Panthers (13-9 overall, 2-1 in SCISAA Region 3-AAA) well below their season average of 62 points per game.
But they couldn't get one last stop after Dimitri Lowry's steal and layup gave Prep (12-6, 2-2) and 45-44 lead with 37 seconds left.
When Williams drove the baseline, Prep's defense collapsed and smothered him, but he managed to fire a bullet to Pinckney, who swished his fourth 3-pointer of the night.
"I feel bad for our players, because they played so hard," Basirico said. "We got good balance; we got a good defensive effort. We did a lot of good things tonight to win the game, and unfortunately, they got the last shot, and to their credit, they made it."
It was the Dolphins' second loss at the buzzer this month -- they suffered a similar fate in a 55-54 loss to Australian club team West Adelaide on Jan. 4.
Instead of pulling into a tie with Porter-Gaud atop the region standings, the Dolphins drop to third with road games at Porter-Gaud and Hilton Head Christian Academy looming in the next two weeks.
PINEWOOD PREP (47) -- Keith Pinckney 14, Cameron Fisher 12, Drew Williams 10, Jerome Deas 8, Michael Pendley 2, Byron Turner 1.
HILTON HEAD PREP (45) -- Matt Layman 15, Alex Orford 10, Dimitri Lowry 7, Patrick Andrews 7, Tim Godshalk 2, L.J. Orage 2, Bo Strimpfel 2.
Pinewood Prep girls 55, Hilton Head Prep 49
Prep's boys weren't the only ones feeling deja vu.
A week after letting a double-digit lead slip away in a 71-66 loss at Northwood Academy, the Dolphins (18-3 overall, 3-2 in SCISAA Region 3-AAA) squandered a 15-point advantage Friday, falling to third place in the region standings.
"It's hard to deal with," said Prep guard Jill Brunori, who scored a game-high 20 points. "It's been a tough past couple of games. It's been rough, but hopefully we'll bounce back."
Along with Kathleen Blum and Lane Czura, Brunori was one of three Prep starters in foul trouble down the stretch, which kept the Dolphins from being as aggressive as usual with their man-to-man defense.
As a result, the Panthers (18-3, 3-0) finished the game on an 18-2 run, slicing through the defense for one easy basket after another.
"I said, 'Just keep attacking; we've got to keep going and chip away at it,' " said Panthers coach Nancy Beatty, who won at Hilton Head Prep for only the second time in her nine years at Pinewood Prep. "We played scared in the first half, and there's no reason for it."
PINEWOOD PREP (55) -- Maria Corella 14, Raygon Hendrix 13, Megan Fish 7, Katelyn Dambaugh 7, Shelby Brochetti 6, Jenifer Rhodes 6, Kelsey Orvin 2.
HILTON HEAD PREP (49) -- Jill Brunori 20, Jamese Franklin 11, Kathleen Blum 10, Kate Brunori 8.