Chance Murphy had seen enough of these excruciating one-point games going against the Bluffton boys basketball team this year.
He sought to change the Bobcats' misfortunes Saturday night.
Murphy notched a block in the closing seconds, then forced an off-balance shot by Battery Creek's Eric Freeman on the final play of the game before grabbing the pivotal rebound and running out the clock as the Bobcats pulled out a 55-54 win over the Dolphins.
"Our coach said that when we get in our region we're not going to win every game by 20," Murphy said. "So this was a really big step for us to win by one."
The loss snapped Bluffton's dubious string of narrow defeats. Both of the Bobcats' losses this year came by one point each to Whale Branch Early College High School and these same Dolphins, who took home an overtime win in the opener of the Bobcat Classic.
"Basically it comes down to crunch time," said Murphy, who also chipped in five points. "You've got to man up and you've got to play defense. That's the biggest thing. Be a man with the ball and don't turn it over."
Murphy did that. Playing a man-to-man defense on the final possession, the center was urged to switch on every ball screen as the Dolphins tried to create a favorable matchup. Murphy wound up guarding the elusive Freeman, but the guard still missed the difficult shot forced as time wound down.
"For a big man to guard a point guard and everything, that's really good," Murphy said.
His presence took on added importance after the loss of starter Harlan Kendrick, who is out with mononucleosis.
"Chance did a great job," coach Brett Macy said. "Great, huge minutes. He didn't really do anything bad. There's a couple things that I wish he would have done differently, but man, he played really well on the glass and in our offense."
Bluffton (7-2) now makes its debut in Region 8-AAAA with a road trip to Ashley Ridge on Tuesday night. Battery Creek, meanwhile, travels to North Charleston.
Bluffton boys 55, Battery Creek 54
Bluffton -- C.J. Frazier 14, B.J. Hill 12, Demetrius Smalls 12, Ahdonus Cofer 6, Chance Murphy 5, Marquis Webber 4, Austin Chittum 2
Battery Creek -- Devontae Wilson 15, Yuneek Crittendon 11, Eric Freeman 10, Raheem Cooper 7, Adonis Williams 6, Cleveland Hampton 5
Bluffton girls 33, Battery Creek 26
Lonnie Roberts admits that it's hard to not get frustrated sometimes with his new group of Bluffton girls basketball players.
"You're trying to get them to communicate and all these things, and it's just not happening as fast as I want it to," Roberts said. "Being patient is one thing, but right now, I think it's about time for us to start growing up a little bit."
The Bobcats have encountered their share of struggles so far this season as Roberts looks to replace five senior starters from a successful run in Region 7-AAA. The process has been slow, but Bluffton took a step forward with a seven-point win over Battery Creek on Saturday.
"We just have so much that we have to improve on," Roberts said. "One minute you think you're taking a giant step forward and then you find yourself taking two steps backward. We've just got to learn the game of basketball."
Bluffton held a one-point advantage with 2:47 to play but reeled off the final six points in the defensive battle.
The Bobcats (3-6) took advantage of the absence of Battery Creek starters Daisja Cannon and Alisha Varela, who were out for team reasons. The Dolphins (9-5) trailed 12-9 at halftime on a tie-breaking triple at the buzzer and never led again.
Bluffton has won three of its past five games after an 0-4 start.
Bluffton -- Tiffany Banks 7, Diamon Smalls 7, Johnnie Gaston 6, Autumn Card 4, Amber Klitzsch 4, Rickii Alexander 3, Alexis Manuel 2
Battery Creek -- Elizabeth Ford 9, Alex Bazemore 8, Brianna Tolbert 6, Khadijah Badger 3