As they prepared to board the bus for the trip back home the night of Dec. 13, the Salem Greyhounds walked out of the Panther Pavilion in Norfork and into a steady, cold rain falling from the night skies.
Compared to what had just happened to them a few minutes earlier, getting soaked by a bone-chilling, 38-degree rain was really nothing.
The Hounds saw a 12-point fourth-period lead evaporate down the stretch as the Panthers busted four big treys, including one just inside the final buzzer, to knock off Salem in stunning fashion, 59-58 in 2AA-North play.
With Salem clinging to a 58-56 lead with 36 seconds left in the game, the Greyhounds were in control of the ball with a chance to put the game away.
However, a walking violation called on Salem with 11 seconds showing on the clock gave Norfork the ball 94 feet away from its basket.
With all eyes in the gym on Norfork sparkplug Buddy Haught, it turned out to be Jacob Mayfield who was hero of the hour for the Panthers.
Haught found Mayfield on the right wing with a pass from midcourt and Mayfield knocked down a huge 3-ball that gave Norfork the advantage at 59-58 with three ticks left in the game. The game-winning shot was Mayfield's third triple of the final frame.
Salem did have one last chance to even things up with a shade under two seconds to go.
In-bounding under Norfork's basket, the Greyhounds got the look they wanted as a baseball pass made its way to Devon Bozeman under the Salem hoop.
Bozeman (seven points) saw his last-ditch shot attempt roll around the rim and fall out, giving the Panthers a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
Chances are this drama would not have been present had the Hounds been more accurate from the charity stripe.
As the Panthers were fashioning their late surge in the fourth period, the Greyhounds were shooting just three-for-eight from the free throw line in the final frame, and for the night Salem (4-4) hit just eight-of-17 from the stripe, keeping the door open for Norfork.
Bozeman kept Salem in the game in the first period by tossing in five points in the frame, a frame in which the game was tied six times before the Panthers moved on top 20-17 late.
The Panthers held control for the duration of the second, despite six points from Salem's Chad Willett (14 points).
Norfork's 34-31 lead at intermission was quickly wiped way in the third with Bozeman and Willett hitting a pair of buckets that gave Salem its first lead, 35-34, since the first period.
It was in the third period that the Hounds found their outside shooting stroke, specifically Lance Powell.
Powell (14 points) bombed in two pivotal trifectas in the frame to help Salem build its biggest lead to that point, 50-42, after three. While Powell was bombing away from the outside, Derek Estes (10 points) was taking care of business inside the paint with six points in the period.
This lead grew to 12, 54-42, on a layup by Cody Irby (four points) at the 6:00 point of the fourth.
With the Hounds up by 12 at the 3:13 mark, Norfork began its comeback march with eight unanswered points that cut Salem's lead to 57-53.
As the Greyhounds continued to struggle from the free throw line, missing the front end of a couple of crucial one-and-one opportunities, the Panthers kept chipping away and finally overtook Salem just before time expired.
Dusty York tallied six points for Salem, with Wes James adding three.
On the girls' side of things, the Lady Greyhounds (6-5) escaped a sluggish start and outscored Norfork by 20 points in the second half of play to emerge with a 57-35 victory.
The first eight minutes of play was rough on both sides, as there were almost as many team fouls (nine), as there were total points (11 points) in the frame.
A 3-ball late in the first from Samantha Corsaut (seven points) pulled the Lady Greyhounds within one, 6-5, after the first period. A layup to start the game from Carrie Johnson (12 points) was Salem's only other field goal in the period.
Johnson tossed in four quick points in the second to help Salem out to a 13-10 lead, and back-to-back baseline hoops from Jenny Neal staked the Lady Hounds to an 18-16 lead at intermission. Neal paced Salem with 13 points on the night.
Salem really sprang to life in the third period.
Breaking off a 7-zip run midway into the frame, the Lady Hounds finally managed to open up some operating room with a 27-20 advantage.
A layup by Chelsea Taylor ended the third with Salem on top 31-25.
Salem made this a double-digit lead in the first two minutes of the fourth with back-to-back jumpers from Tori Watkins (seven points) and a pair of inside buckets by Bailey Wagner (six points).
The Lady Panthers would post just two field goals and 10 total points in the frame, as Salem put the caps on a once close game, winning by 22-points.
Tabitha Hall finished with three points for the Lady Greyhounds, with Jordan Nelson and Lairen Hall adding two points each. Jamie James had one point for Salem.