The Hilton Head Island High School boys basketball team worked during the holiday break to create quality possessions.
The Seahawks created a measure, a statistic they call "stop-score-stop," which counts the number of meaningful possessions Hilton Head High can claim during a game. Stop the opponent on one end, score on the other and come up with another stop.
The work is in the early stages. But on Friday night at Beaufort High School, the numbers leaned in the Seahawks' favor.
Hilton Head High shut down the Eagles during the fourth quarter, coming back to win 47-42. After counting only one "stop-score-stop" sequence during the first half, coach Ken Updike's squad had eight during the final two quarters.
"We're trying to come up with something simple, so that in the game, they can understand those possessions," Updike said. "This is something they can understand."
The defensive stops during the fourth quarter -- Hilton Head High outscored Beaufort High 17-2 over the final eight minutes after entering the quarter down 10 -- could be credited to the Seahawks' variety of looks. When Beaufort High desperately needed a basket during the final two minutes, the Seahawks intercepted a pass in their zone, drew a charge and forced an off-balance 3-pointer.
Hilton Head High's Aaron Frazier, who led all scorers with 22 points, held off the Eagles with four trips to the free-throw line during the final two minutes.
"We've been able to execute, we just haven't been able to close games," Frazier said. "We closed this one and got a great win."
Beaufort High (9-2), which won at Hilton Head High by five early in the season, was without leading scorer Kendrick Colvin for a fourth game. Colvin has been visiting family out of state.
Hilton Head High (8-6) was missing senior Michael Julian during the first meeting but had him back Friday. Julian pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked four shots to go with his seven points.
After the game, he congratulated the Beaufort High student section on creating a college-like atmosphere. Beaufort High students, who dubbed themselves the "Kirkland Krazies" heckled the Seahawks throughout the game, coming alive when Hilton Head High had the ball on their end during the second half.
But the Seahawks didn't fold, instead turning the momentum when they needed a run. Beaufort High, out of sync and without a go-to scorer late, showed its inexperience, coach Bruce Beasley said.
"I thought, offensively, we did a lot of standing around and made some poor choices and decisions," Beasley said.
The Eagles have another non-region tuneup today, when they play host to Ridgeland-Hardeeville.
Friday's victory was Hilton Head High's final test before region play starts next week with Berkeley.
Hilton Head High boys 47, Beaufort High 42
Hilton Head High-- Aaron Frazier 22, Troy Clifford 10, Michael Julian 7, Matt Pollard 4, Jacob Coltrane 2, James Sanders 2.
Beaufort High-- Thomas Parker 17, Jawan Mack 7, Otis McClain 7, Anthony White 4, Lamont Fripp 2, Carlton Johnson 2.
Hilton Head High girls 50, Beaufort High 33
Hilton Head High girls basketball coach Dave Greenberg knows to be cautious with his group, that a team this young is likely to have youthful moments. At times, the Seahawks send out three sophomores, a freshman and an eighth-grader.
But this group has played together before, and sophomores Americal Jenkins and Lauryn Bush were two of the team's top players a season ago as freshmen. Despite the youth, Hilton Head High improved to 10-4 on the season with Friday's victory.
"We're so young," Greenberg said. "To be 10-4 at this point, I don't think we expected it."
Beaufort High coach Lillian Keeler Aldred was pleased with her team's effort after a tough start to the season. The Eagles trailed by only six at halftime and nine entering the final quarter. But the Seahawks' pressure defense prevailed, holding Beaufort High to one field goal during the final quarter.
"Tonight showed a lot of improvement," Keeler Aldred said. "They beat us by 32 the first time. We've been working hard. It's starting to pay off."
Hilton Head High-- Americal Jenkins 18, Lauryn Bush 16, Austin Seelbach 6, Savannah Reier 2, Rachel Friend 2, Shy Flemming 2.
Beaufort High-- Jordan Fields 13, Jimesha Mitchell 7, Mattie Hibbs 5, Kaitlyn Hamilton 4, Jasmine Wallace 2, Regina Bolden 2.