A great loss isn't quite an oxymoron. It's the one where you did pretty much everything right.
Cedar Key boys played Hernando Christian almost perfectly Thursday night, playing good defense, keeping turnovers low and free throw shooting high.
It wasn't quite enough to avoid the last-second, 55-53 loss.
HCA had a couple of pieces that were just unstoppable, in can't-miss shooter Martin George and big man Clay Kessler. Both of them dogged the Sharks shot for shot, and Kessler was both the irresistible force and the immovable object around the basket.
Nonetheless, the Sharks laid it all out. David Bishop led the Sharks and tied George for game-high scoring with 19 points, and Joseph Bishop was nearly his counterpart with 17.
The Sharks kept the game almost tied up all the way through, as Joseph and David Bishop shared backcourt duties, adding Justin Speegle in the mix. The three handled the ball well and kept it moving to the shooters -- mainly themselves and Richie Rain.
At halftime, HCA led by only one point, and the Sharks tied the game at 41 by the end of the third quarter.
The last eight minutes were a thriller, as perhaps both sides realized that neither would back down.
There were five lead changes in the fourth quarter, and at one point Hernando led by three points, their largest lead of the night. Cedar Key battled back, with Micah Shelby rising up in the lane to block a shot and the Bishops trading circus shots.
With under 10 seconds to go, down by one, the Sharks had to foul and send George to the line. He made one of two, raising the lead to a basket.
The inbounds play collapsed and the ball went loose, ending the hardest-fought game with a crash of the buzzer and a big sigh from the bleachers.
"We left it all out there," said Sharks' head coach Aaron Haldeman.
"The guys played hard. Sometimes that's the way it goes."
Win or lose, the outcome was the only thing unsatisfying about the game. It was unexcelled in effort, drama and sheer grit.
Cedar Key boys had a successful outing in their home game against Meadowbrook Tuesday, avenging their away loss to the district foe with a 59-51 win. The boys will appear at Branford Tournament next Friday and Saturday.