As C.J. Frazier walked back toward the Bluffton High School gymnasium, a drenched-in-sweat Brett Macy pulled him in close, placing a congratulatory hand atop his head full of dreadlocks.
There was little the pair needed to say to one another. The short gesture seemed to be the only thing needed to sum up what's been an interesting four-year relationship that continued with the Bobcats boys basketball program finally erasing its postseason demons Wednesday night.
"I've been here since Coach Macy has been here," Frazier said. "(This) has been our goal since Day 1. We've got to keep it moving now."
Frazier poured in a game-high 17 points, and his longtime teammate Marquis Webber hit the game-winning shot with 19 seconds to play as Bluffton knocked off Wando, 51-49, in the first round of the Class 4-A playoffs in what was likely the pair's final home game.
"I'm just so glad to get a win," Frazier said. "We've been trying to move past the first round since my freshman year. This is really big to me."
Bluffton had been 0-5 in the postseason, which included three losses at home. The Bobcats dropped playoff games in The Den in each of the last two seasons.
"I'm happy we finally won," Webber said, smiling. " ... The curse has been lifted."
It was Webber's uncontested layup that punched Bluffton's ticket to the next round, a visit to Sumter High School on Saturday night. As Harlan Kendrick prepared to drive the middle of the floor -- drawing in the Wando defense -- Webber knifed through undetected behind them for the bucket.
He did so with time winding down and Macy prepared to hold on to his timeouts. The coach felt comfortable with the veterans on the floor and has always preferred how his team works in its transition offense rather than out of a set play, he said.
"It's just like football," Frazier said. "(Webber) improvises sometimes and it just works. Coach Macy knew not to call timeout because we were going to make it work."
The Bluffton defense then held on for a pair of possessions, as Anthony Smith forced a turnover near midcourt before Webber intercepted a deep pass down the floor as time expired, sending the Bluffton student section rushing toward the court.
"They deserved that win, they really did," Macy said. "It's the most accomplished group in Bluffton High School basketball history. A region championship and now a Sweet 16 appearance. They deserved it."
Things didn't look as promising early on, as Wando (14-11) built an 11-point lead midway through the second quarter thanks to some sharp shooting and unsuspecting defense. Bluffton (13-7) prepared all week for the Warriors' 1-3-1 defense and instead were greeted with a 3-2 look that took the Bobcats out of their fast-paced game early.
But an 11-3 run to end the half, capped by consecutive triples from Frazier and Webber, ended Wando's attempts to confuse the Bobcats' offense. The Warriors went man the rest of the way, allowing Bluffton to get out into the transition offense that's been the basis of its success this season.
"It was slowing us down a little bit," Frazier said. "We just had to get stops."
The Bobcats will need the same type of effort Saturday against a Sumter team that upended Dutch Fork at home Wednesday. The Gamecocks, who are the only team this season to beat 2-A power Lake Marion, are led by all-state performer Auntrell Holloway.
"We've got a tall order in Sumter," Macy said. " ... They did a (heck) of a job beating Lake Marion. We'll have our hands full."
Class 4-A boys basketball playoffs, first round
Bluffton 51, Wando 49
Wando -- Amp Moore 11, Taylor Majewski 9, Richie Alston 8, Matthew Pegram 5, Eric Wagenlander 5, Jamez Rogers 3, Taylor Kimball 3, Trey Price 2, Aaron Brown 2, Hampton Harvin 1
Bluffton -- C.J. Frazier 17, Marquis Webber 9, Chance Murphy 6, B.J. Hill 5, Harlan Kendrick 4, Anthony Smith 3, Demetrius Smalls 3, Jay Middleton 2, Ahdonus Cofer 2