Antoine Youmans was entering a season of unknowns.
This Battery Creek High School boys basketball team started slow, was young and raw. And its coach didn't quite know what to make of it.
Youmans had a much better idea Wednesday. His Dolphins fell, 73-63, at home to Silver Bluff in the first round of the Class 2-A playoffs, but Youmans praised their resilience.
"This time we weren't able to do enough to get back into it," Youmans said.
Battery Creek had rebounded from a rough start to the season to earn the second seed from Region 6-AA and had come back to win a number of important games. The last comeback attempt fell short, snuffed out by Silver Bluff standout Jaylen Lawrence -- who finished with a personal-best 31 points -- and his surrounding cast of shooters.
Youmans started in a zone, wanted to see whether Silver Bluff could attack it. The Dolphins like to trap. And when they do, a shooter is inevitably open.
The Bulldogs shot better than Youmans anticipated.
"You've got to be wary, just like man or any other defense," Youmans said. "You've got to be prepared to close out on shooters. They just shot the ball well, bottom line."
Battery Creek came from 14 down early in the third quarter to trail by only three entering the final quarter. The defense tightened, and the Dolphins were able to get quick baskets out of their press. A 10-2 run helped bring the Dolphins back.
Silver Bluff made three 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter and denied Battery Creek clean looks down the stretch. Bulldogs coach Robbie McKenzie said the team bulked up its non-region schedule with larger schools with winning records.
The guard-heavy group was prepared when the game tightened, making open 3-pointers and driving to the basket to draw fouls.
"Just keep our composure and play," Lawrence said of the discussion before the final quarter. "We were making careless mistakes."
Junior guard Yuneek Crittendon scored the final six points for Battery Creek, finishing with 21 while trying to keep his team alive.
Youmans told his team in the locker room if it didn't like the feeling of elimination, to remember it during the summer. His point guard, Adonis Williams, is a freshman. His leading scorers are Crittendon and sophomore Devontae Wilson, both of whom will be back.
The Dolphins could have another shot in the playoffs on their home floor.
"Let's work on all the little things that are going to make a big difference for our team," Youmans said.
Class 2-A boys basketball playoffs, first round
Silver Bluff 73, Battery Creek 63
Silver Bluff (12-10)-- Jaylen Lawrence 31, Donte Wright 14, Jalen Jackson 9, Devyn Tyler 7, Gyasi Yeldell 5, Brian Hickson 4, Nick Cummings 3.
Battery Creek (13-11)-- Yuneek Crittendon 21, Adonis Williams 14, Devontae Wilson 11, Eric Freeman 10, Teyvon Jenette 5, Raheem Cooper 2.