As the Hilton Head Island High girls basketball team congregated in the hallway outside the Seahawks gymnasium Monday, Lauryn Bush stood propped against the wall in a warmup suit, a crutch underneath her left arm helping to balance out a heavily-wrapped right leg.
This wasn't the scene the Seahawks envisioned a week ago as the playoff approached. Coach Dave Greenberg and Co. thought they'd have the sophomore guard at their disposal. Instead, she is out with an ACL injury, lost for good a week ago against Stall.
"Nobody can replace her," Greenberg said. "She's a better player than the options we have, otherwise she wouldn't be playing so much while she was healthy."
Nevertheless, the Seahawks are making it work, and they still managed to celebrate during this latest hallway congregation. By spreading the ball around amongst its guards and supplying center Americal Jenkins with ample possessions down low, Hilton Head High advanced to the second round of the Class 3-A playoffs with a 52-16 dismantling of Gilbert.
"We're playing pretty well," Jenkins said. "I believe that everybody wants to play well to fill her spot. We're just all working together."
Jenkins grabbed her usual 12 points and 14 rebounds -- good for her 16th double-double this season -- but it was the other faces that propelled the Seahawks to the playoff-opening win. Brennan O'Gorman tallied a career-high 11 points and eight steals off the bench while Rachel Friend netted eight first-half points to go along with seven steals.
"We had to step up, especially with Lauryn being out," O'Gorman said. "I just felt like I had to shoot and score more. I've always been more of a passer and I've never really looked to score. I figured now was my time to step up so I did."
Hilton Head High (18-7) first learned last Thursday that Bush was lost, just hours before the Seahawks took the floor in the regular-season finale against Hanahan. The team has since responded with consecutive victories, and presented the veteran scorer with the game ball last week.
"It was very, very emotional for us," O'Gorman said. "It was hard, but we won for her. We figured we had to step up and do her proud. She did so well all season. We had to (play well) for her, and we did."
The Seahawks blew open a 9-6 first-quarter lead with a 23-7 run heading into halftime Monday. Freshman point guard Savannah Reier capped the run with a 3-pointer from the wing at the buzzer, sending Hilton Head High into the locker room up 21.
The Seahawks did so after moving into their suffocating full-court defense. The switch resulted in more than 30 turnovers for Gilbert (11-10), which was held without a field goal for the entire second half.
"It helps get us in the game," Greenberg said of the Seahawks' signature defense. "Because you really have to work hard and you're trying to force them into making mistakes. I think it wears on the other team, and (Gilbert) didn't handle it very well."
The Seahawks' next opponent should provide a stiffer challenge. Hilton Head High will travel Thursday night to face a No.1-seeded North Myrtle Beach team that knocked off Darlington 53-40 for its 23rd win of the season.
No matter the outcome, Greenberg views this season as a success. The Seahawks won their playoff opener for the second straight year despite losing a trio of starters from its lineup and finished second in the competitive Region 8-AAA.
"It feels great," O'Gorman said. "I'm just happy we're moving on. We had a lot of doubts this season coming in, losing Sabrina (Drammis) and some of our seniors. It's amazing how far we've come."
Hilton Head High girls 52, Gilbert 16
Gilbert -- Kelsey Hancock 7, Morgan Smith 4, Miracle Wise 2, Whitney Johnson 2, Astin Edwards 1
Hilton Head High -- Americal Jenkins 12, Brennan O'Gorman 11, Savannah Reier 9, Rachel Friend 8, Zion Campbell 7, Macy King 3, Austin Seelbach 2