Tampa Prep senior forward Sean McClain is renowned for his will to win. His contagious competitive nature is what helped the Terrapins reach the 3A final.
After his team's 47-43 loss to Port St. Joe, however, McClain almost felt like it would have been better to lose by 30.
"Then, we would have known that they were by far the better team," McClain said. "When we were up by five, I thought we had it. Basketball is an amazing game. You can think you've got it and then all of sudden it disappears."
Each Terrapin player felt that same disappointment, but the hurt cut McClain the deepest because he is the team's only senior. The remaining 14 players will come back next season with a good chance of returning to the state final.
For McClain, the dream that sustained his drive is over.
"It was a lot of fun, but it went real quick," McClain said.
The fun feeling evaporated for many of the Terrapins. Rino Bevis played unbelievable defense against Brian Jenkins, holding Port St. Joe's leading scorer to five indifferent points until he tipped in an errant free throw in the closing seconds.
Jenkins called it "the best defense anyone has ever played against me in my life."
The Terps' defense was nothing short of superb, limiting the Sharks to just one field goal in the third. Every three-pointer was contended, including the one by James Daniels that banked in from 22 feet and eventually led Prep fans to start talking about next year.
Terrapins coach Joe Fenlon wasn't ready for talk about another season. Not with his heart still aching for McClain.
"We're not talking about next year," Fenlon said. "We're losing one of Tampa Prep's finest basketball players in our history. Sean's going to leave as the leading scorer in school history. He will have the most wins of any player who's ever played at Tampa Prep.
"He strapped us on his back about a month ago and just refused to lose."