High School Basketball

Whale Branch boys and girls win battles against rival Battery Creek

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comDecember 8, 2013 

Marlon Williams opened a cut near his left eye that required treatment more than once Saturday.

Denzel Daniel finished the game with tissue stuffed in his nostril to stop a bleed.

The Whale Branch Early College High School boys basketball team absorbed its wounds during a physical home game Saturday with rival Battery Creek High School and emerged with a 47-44 victory.

"Coach told us to stay calm and just let the game come to us," Whale Branch guard Justin Rhode said.

The Warriors scored the go-ahead basket on Simeon Middleton's put-back with 2:30 remaining. Battery Creek could not manage a clean look after Yuneek Crittendon's layup with 35 seconds to go.

Whale Branch withstood a monster game from Dolphins center Eric Freeman, who led all scorers with 17 points and added some emphatic blocks during the defensive struggle.

Whale Branch started the season the top-ranked team in Class 1-A. Battery Creek is the eighth-ranked team in Class 2-A. Both coaches said the tight nature of this game would help deeper in the season.

"It's a non-region game, it's good experience for our players," Battery Creek coach Antoine Youmans said. "Pressure at the end, some teachable moments to learn and grow from."

Warriors coach Linc Lyles credited Battery Creek for keeping Whale Branch out of an offensive rhythm and altering his substitution patterns.

After three consecutive 3-pointers during the third quarter, Whale Branch appeared ready to pull away. But the Warriors were held without a field goal for the next 4:57 as Freeman brought the Dolphins back from an eight-point deficit.

Whale Branch boys 47, Battery Creek 44

Battery Creek (2-1) -- Eric Freeman 17, Devontae Wilson 7, Markell Smalls 7, Yuneek Crittendon 6, Raheem Cooper 5, Jason Green 1, Tavion Heyward 1

Whale Branch (3-1) -- Justin Rhode 9, Marlon Williams 9, Simeon Middleton 7, Jay Abney 6, Denzel Daniel 6, Marcus Bell 4, Chavonne Simmons 3, David Lamb 2, Devonta Glover 1

Whale Branch girls 52, Battery Creek 42

The memory of Daisja Cannon scoring at will a season ago still might have been fresh.

The Whale Branch girls basketball team wanted to eliminate a repeat from the Battery Creek senior. The Warriors used a matchup zone to keep the speedy Cannon out of the lane, and used runs during both halves to help put away the rival Dolphins.

"We tried to eliminate touches," Whale Branch coach Wilbert Bryant said. "Let the other ones hurt us."

Cannon was held to 12 points -- a team-high, but well below the 25.5 points she averaged in two games against the Warriors as a junior.

In the second half, Whale Branch used its size to carve a lead. Warriors post player Jonae Riley scored 10 of her 20 points during the third quarter. Forward Shaniqua Johnson added 11 inside.

The Warriors survived a scoring drought of 9:38 during the first half, not able to set up the press out of a made basket. But Bryant's team scored 13 of the final 15 points before halftime to push back ahead.

Whale Branch girls 52, Battery Creek 42

Battery Creek (1-2) -- Daisja Cannon 12, D. Moultrie 10, Elizabeth Ford 7, Brianna Tolbert 7, Ericka Alston 6

Whale Branch (3-1) -- Jonae Riley 20, Kemoni Jenkins 13, Shaniqua Johnson 11, Cynthia Rivers 3, Cheyenne Rogers 2, Dana Chapel 2, Aiyshia White 1.

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