Daisja Cannon might be the most recognizable player on the floor for her Battery Creek High School girls basketball team.
She bounces around the court and shows off speed that allows her to lose defenders for layups or assists in the lane. Opposing teams take notice, too, taking steps to slow Cannon after it becomes obvious a normal defensive scheme can't.
But Cannon doesn't mind. This is a team effort, she said, and the Dolphins will play as a team. The improved Battery Creek squad, playing its first season in Class 2-A, continued its strong start by winning Friday at Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 46-32. The Dolphins improved to 2-0 in Region 6-AA and 4-1 overall.
They won Friday by receiving important contributions from other players after the Jaguars worked to limit Cannon. The Dolphins' standout was held without a field goal during the second half but drew fouls and found open teammates late to deny a Jaguars' rally. Cannon led the Dolphins with 13 points, scoring just a pair of free throws during the final two quarters. But five other Dolphins scored at lease five points, with Alisha Varela chipping in 10 to help Battery Creek defeat the newly merged Jasper County school.
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"Just play together," Battery Creek coach Bernadette Ulmer said was the key to the Dolphins staying patient on offense. "Work the ball around and play together."
Ridgeland-Hardeeville was without a pair of key guards, so the Jaguars used their size. Aaliyah Hill and Ny'Jae Boozer combined for 22 points to lead Ridgeland-Hardeeville.
The Jaguars used a variety of looks to slow Cannon. A halfcourt press to start the second quarter proved helpful, and Hill and a variety of guards took turns harassing Cannon away from the ball.
Ulmer credited a team concept for the Dolphins' improvement to this point in the season. Some of the Dolphins' attack has been the result of set plays designed to get Cannon the ball in space and either find an open teammate underneath or slash to the basket.
"Pass and cut," Cannon said. "The defenders come to me and (I) pass it off."
During the first quarter, Cannon scored the first five points, set up a Matalyn Dearsman layup with a nifty bounce pass and whipped another laser to Varela from the top of the key for another easy basket as the Dolphins built a 16-2 advantage.
The Dolphins scored 23 points in the first quarter and 23 the rest of the way.
Battery Creek girls 46, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 32
Battery Creek-- Daisja Cannon 13, Alisha Varela 10, Ericka Alston 6, Elizabeth Ford 6, Matalyn Dearsman 6, Alex Bazemore 5.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville -- Aaliyah Hill 12, Ny'Jae Boozer 10, Denesha Page 7, Tiara Nelson 2, Tierra Green 1.
Battery Creek boys 55, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 54
Battery Creek's boys basketball team lost enough of these type of games last season to stick with coach Antoine Youmans. And so with no seniors on the floor, and a freshman point guard leading the way, he was glad to see the Dolphins pull out a tough victory on the road.
Battery Creek (2-3) improved to 2-0 in Region 6-AA, with rival Beaufort High School on the non-region schedule tonight.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville turned up the intensity late to close the gap, and both sides questioning the officiating led to a heated finish.
"I told my players an ugly win is better than a pretty loss," Youmans said. "I hate to be at the end of the game and say, 'Hey guys, we played really well but didn't end up winning.' The game got ugly, but you've got to learn to win ugly games."
Jaguars forward Terrance Frazier missed two free throws with six seconds remaining. The horn sounded after a jump ball call and scramble on the floor on the ensuing inbounds.
The Dolphins were able to drive to the basket and get to the free-throw line to maintain their advantage, until Frazier hit two big baskets with under two minutes left to vault the Jaguars back in the game.
Battery Creek-- Raheem Cooper 12, Eric Freeman 10, Yuneek Crittendon 9, Jason Green 7, Adonis Williams 7, Devontae Wilson 6, Miguel Crawley 2, Markell Smalls 2.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville-- Terrance Frazier 18, Charles Mitchell 12, Anthony Polite 10, Garretson Seeden 4, Q. Johnson 4, Frederico Bolden 2, Kevon Williams 1.