Things could have been so much different.
A couple breaks here or there, and the boys basketball teams from Hilton Head Prep and Hilton Head Christian Academy could have been playing with first-place in SCISAA Region 3-AAA on the line.
Nonetheless, the stakes will be plenty high when the rivals meet for the third time this season at 7:30 p.m. today at Hilton Head Christian. The winner will take over third place in the region standings, while the loser will be left scrambling to stay out of last place in the five-team league.
Yet as recently as Friday, both teams had aspirations of winning the region title -- that's how competitive the region is this season.
The Eagles (12-6 overall, 2-3 in SCISAA Region 3-AAA) had a four-game win streak snapped with a 74-47 home loss to Pinewood Prep on Friday, knocking them two games behind the Panthers and Porter-Gaud in the region standings. Hilton Head Christian fell behind 10-0 and never recovered, settling for a season split with the Panthers.
The Dolphins (12-8 overall, 2-3 in SCISAA Region 3-AAA) also slipped two games back of the leaders Friday, falling 67-65 at Porter-Gaud. It was Prep's fourth consecutive loss, two of which came by a combined three points.
Prep hopes a rematch with its rival will help right the ship. The Dolphins have won both previous meetings this season, winning 51-46 in the finals of the RET Thomas Memorial Holiday Tournament on Dec. 18 and taking the first region meeting 50-43 on Jan. 11. Junior guard Dimitri Lowry (20 points, seven steals) and junior forward Bo Strimpfel (13 points, 10 rebounds) were the stars of the most recent meeting.
But both of those games were played at Prep; the Eagles are 8-2 at home.
Senior guard JaBrook Tucker, who scored 28 points for the Eagles in Friday's loss, has struggled a bit against the Dolphins, shooting 34.4 percent (11 for 32) and averaging 12.5 points, well below his team-best season average of 16.9.