Something needed to change.
The Beaufort High School boys basketball team forced its way inside during the first half of its season finale with Bluffton High School, and during the second half pushed its way to a 10-point lead. The Bobcats were on the road, with an overzealous Eagles student section within an arm's length during the second half.
Bluffton flipped to its "fist" -- full-court, man-to-man pressure defense -- and began working its way back. Beaufort High never recovered and Bluffton escaped with a 61-55 victory, earning a home playoff game next week with Summerville's victory over Fort Dorchester.
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"They're young, but they're good," Bluffton coach Brett Macy said of the Eagles. "But their youth showed in that stretch and on to the final four minutes of the game."
The Eagles were held without a fourth-quarter field goal until the final minute. Bluffton outscored them 12-3 during the stretch.
The Bobcats are the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAAA, pending final review at a coaches meeting today.
The finish was familiar for Beaufort High, which has suffered some tough setbacks. But Eagles coach Bruce Beasley said he was glad for the way his team responded after a slow start to the region schedule.
The Eagles finished fourth in Region 8 and will travel to Goose Creek next week.
Beaufort High forward Kendrick Colvin, who sparked the Eagles with his midrange shooting and a two-handed dunk during the third quarter, said the Eagles stopped finding a way to get the ball inside.
They appeared ready to flush past finishes after the fast start to the second half.
"We came out better the second half of this game than we did the rest of the season," Colvin said.
Marquis Webber led the Bobcats with 13 points, perhaps an unlikely source who found his shooting touch early. Webber was off the floor during the final minutes as Macy went with a defensive-minded lineup.
Beasley went with a three-guard lineup to face the Bobcats' pressure, but Bluffton was still able to force turnovers and score in transition.
Bluffton boys 61, Beaufort High 55
Bluffton (12-8, 6-4 Region 8-AAAA) -- Marquis Webber 13, Harlan Kendrick 10, Anthony Smith 8, C.J. Frazier 7, B.J. Hill 6, Chance Murphy 5, Adonus Cofer 4, Demetrius Smalls 2, Jeremy Scott 2.
Beaufort High (14-9, 4-6) -- Kendrick Colvin 13, Otis McClain 11, Jawan Mack 10, Thomas Parker 7, Anthony White 7, Rafael Guevera 3, Adonis Grant 3.
Bluffton girls 57, Beaufort High 47
Bluffton's starting lineup Thursday showed promise for the summer.
Two sophomores and three juniors took the court at Beaufort High to close the season. The Bobcats will be back, after a busy summer of camps, and they ended with a positive outcome, holding off a late Beaufort High rally to win their third region game.
Bluffton finished just outside of the Region 8 playoff picture in fifth place. The Bobcats could have slipped into a playoff berth with better performances earlier in the season, coach Lonnie Roberts said, but that's in the past.
During the summer, Roberts and his team will travel to Francis Marion, Dutch Fork, Winthrop and Savannah State for camps, in addition to hosting a play day at Bluffton. The work will begin again.
Beaufort High trailed by 20 entering the fourth quarter Thursday but ran off 11 consecutive points to cut the lead to single digits. Bluffton held off the charge on the free-throw line.
Bluffton (6-14, 3-7 Region 8-AAAA) -- Diamon Smalls 20, Dynasty Mervin 12, Johnnie Gaston 9, Tiffany Banks 6, Rickii Alexander 4, Monique Whitley 4, Autumn Card 2.
Beaufort High (1-22, 0-10) -- Jordan Fields 25, Jasmine Wallace 8, Mattie Hibbs 4, Caisey Dickson 4, Cam Simmons 4, Kaitlyn Hamilton 2.