Marlboro County High's boys entered the final two games of the regular season with their playoff fate in their own hands.
If they won at Myrtle Beach on Friday and at home against Wilson on Tuesday, they would be invited to the postseason. A win in either one of those games might get them in, depending on the results of other region contests.
Neither happened and for the first time in over a decade the Bulldogs are taking up the equipment before the playoffs begin.
Tuesday night, the Bulldogs got off to a fast start, only to fall apart in the third quarter.
After trailing the Tigers 15-10 with two minutes left in the first quarter, Wesley Brown hit a basket to start a 14-4 run by the Bulldogs. Marlboro took a 30-25 lead into the locker room at the half.
However, as has happened frequently since region play started, the Marlboro offense didn't come out of the dressing room. It would be the 1:30 mark in the third quarter before a drive by Jamiek McCoy got the Bulldogs back on the scoreboard.
By then, the Tigers held a comfortable nine-point lead. The Bulldogs had one more furious run in them only to come up short.
Ryan Dupree started the rally by hitting a pair of free throws to end the third quarter. Senior Damien Bruce scored on three consecutive drives to the basket that tied the game at 42.
Twice more the Bulldogs would pull even, once on a layup by Bruce and a few minutes later on a short jumper by Brown. However, the Tigers outscored Marlboro 9-2 over the next three minutes, which proved to be decisive.
Wilson hung on for the 62-57 win. The victory locked up second place in Region 6-4A for the Tigers.
Senior guard Bruce finished his career with 18 points in the contest. Vonta Oliver added 10, Brown 8 and Dupree 8. Rictavious McInnis, the Bulldogs' only other senior, finished with 6, Keiran Leviner 3 and McCoy 2.
Last Friday at Myrtle Beach, the scenario was much the same. The Bulldogs led by five at the half but were outscored 22-12 in the third period. The Seahawks cruised to a 57-48 victory.
Bruce led the offense with 13 points. Brown had 12, McCoy 8, Dupree 6, McInnis 4, Oliver 3 and Pedro Davila 2.
Marlboro County finishes with an 8-17 overall record, 2-8 in region contests. With only two seniors on this year's roster, the Bulldogs will return an experienced team next November as they look to get back in the playoff hunt.
The MCHS girls also wrapped up their season Tuesday night, falling to region champ Wilson, 76-51.
The Lady Tigers raced to a comfortable lead, outscoring the Bulldogs 19-10 in the second quarter. Marlboro County clawed back into the game early in the third quarter, cutting the Tigers' advantage to 46-42 with two minutes left in the third.
However, Wilson nailed a pair of three-pointers to push the lead to double-digits by the end of the third. The Tigers continued to pour it on over the final period.
Jasmine Norman led the offense with 13 points. Tysonia Lowe added 11, Shaniya Oliver 10, Kennedy Ashwood 7, Callasha Zimmerman 5 and Lanique James 4.
Last Friday, the Lady Bulldogs had a second quarter scoring slump that cost them any chance against the region runners-up, Myrtle Beach. Marlboro fell 68-47.
Lowe led the Bulldogs with 15 points. Norman and Oliver each had 11, James 6, Ashwood 2 and Briana Oxendine 2.
Like the boys' team, the Lady Bulldogs will return all but two players next year and though they didn't get in the victory column in region play, they were typically very competitive. They finish with an 8 -15 overall record, 0-10 in region play.