By CHRIS COX
Michael Julian picked a good time to make the shot of his career.
The Hilton Head Island High School basketball standout rose up over Bluffton High School's Dimitri Lowry just outside the paint and nailed a jump shot as time expired to give the Seahawks a 41-40 upset win Friday night over the rival Bobcats.
The moment the ball fell through the net, the overflow crowd of Seahawk students rushed the floor and flocked to Julian. They promptly raised him up on their shoulders as the junior held both hands high in the air and smiled from ear to ear.
"That was amazing," Julian said afterward. "It was the greatest feeling I've ever felt. By far the greatest feeling."
The Seahawks (11-13, 5-5 Region 7-AAA) were trying to run a play called "Cowboy," where Julian would come off a screen and hopefully get an open look. But when the play broke down, he took matters into his own hands.
"I just tried to make something happen," he said.
He certainly succeeded. Julian said he "had no doubt" in his mind that the ball was going in, despite the near-perfect defense played by Lowry.
But his biggest contribution came on the defensive end, as he picked up 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots. Combined with his 12-point performance, Julian finished just two blocks shy of a triple-double.
"He's a real special kid," Hilton Head High coach Ken Updike said. "I knew it was going to happen, I just wasn't sure when. He has matured as a player, as a person and as a leader."
The Seahawks know they're not a great offensive team. That's why Updike keeps track of a "40-under club." Whenever Hilton Head High holds the opposition to 40 points or fewer, the Seahawks don't have to run laps in the next practice.
"That's what we pride ourselves on, is our defense," Julian said. "We know we probably won't score the most points, so we try to keep them low-scoring games so we can come out on top."
Add another team to the club, coach. The Seahawks held the Bobcats a whopping 28 points below their season average.
"We didn't make a lot of shots, but Hilton Head got their tempo," Bobcats coach Brett Macy said. "When they get their tempo, they're going to play in the 40s. And they're going to have a shot to win any game they play."
The Bobcats (19-3, 8-2) still left Hilton Head High with the region crown in hand and a first-round playoff matchup at home awaiting them. Bluffton hosts Socastee at 6 p.m. Tuesday night while the Seahawks travel to top-seeded Wilson on the same day.
But the playoffs can wait. For now, Julian can still bask in his moment.
"There wasn't any doubt he was going to shoot that lost shot," Updike said. "For him to make it, that's big time."
Hilton Head High boys 41, Bluffton 40
Bluffton (19-3, 8-2 Region 7-AAA) -- C.J. Frazier 9, Michael Grant 8, Dimitri Lowry 8, B.J. Hill 5, Jeremy Scott 4, Harlan Kendrick 3, Bryson Bell 2, Bo Strimpfel 1
Hilton Head (11-13, 5-5) -- Michael Julian 12, James Sanders 11, Jacob Coltrane 7, Alex MacDonald 7, Chris MacMurray 2, John Eck 2
Bluffton girls 46, Hilton Head 44
Things were looking bleak for the Bluffton girls basketball team.
The Bobcats trailed by 12 early in the fourth quarter to rival Hilton Head High, a team that had already bounced them by a point in overtime earlier this season.
That's when the Bobcats' seniors took over.
Jennifer Giles started the rally with a triple from the wing before Shakeria Kitty followed with three big buckets inside, as the Bobcats rallied for a 46-44 thriller over the Seahawks.
"How can you describe it?" coach Lonnie Roberts said. "It was the same scenario with Hilton Head at our place. We fought back in it."
The Bobcats trailed, 42-30, as Seahawks guards Lauryn Bush and Sabrina Drammis combined to score 32 points for Hilton Head High before Bluffton ended the game on a 16-2 run to claim the victory. The Bobcats took the lead for good on a jumper by Tibra Wheeler with one minute to play before the senior pushed the lead to 2 on a free throw with 3.9 seconds remaining.
Drammis' 3-pointer from half court then sailed wide before the Bobcats rushed the floor to celebrate.
Bluffton (19-4, 9-1 Region 7-AAA) earned a share of the region title with the victory and will host North Myrtle Beach at 6 p.m. Monday in the Den. The Seahawks (19-5, 9-1), meanwhile, still claim the region's No. 1 seed and host Socastee at the same time.
Bluffton (19-4, 9-1 Region 7-AAA) -- Jennifer Giles14, Shakeria Kitty 14, Tibra Wheeler 12, Monique Bryant 2, Alex Bailey 2, Justice Hill 2
Hilton Head (19-5, 9-1) -- Lauryn Bush 20, Sabrina Drammis 12, Americal Jenkins 6, Macy King 2, Jamese Franklin 2, Tashawna Washington 2