Bodies flew, emotions roared and the crowd got involved in more ways than one.
Just another meeting between Bluffton and Hilton Head Island High.
The two rivals matched wits once again on the hardwood Thursday night, with the Bobcats emerging for a physical 54-41 road win. But it didn't come without a fight from the outmanned Seahawks, who played their best basketball of what has thus far been a winless season.
"We took them for granted," said Bluffton's D.J. Dobson. "We thought we were just going to come in here and walk all over them. We kind of underestimated the crowd and how they would feel."
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It was Dobson whose second-half takeover lifted the Bobcats (5-1) from a potential upset, as the senior scored 13 of his game-high 20 points over the third and fourth quarters. The Dutch Fork transfer scored nine straight points late in the third to carry his team from a two-point deficit to a lead it would not relinquish.
"I made a lot of points just in transition," he said. "Off of turnovers, I just saw the opportunity. They always preach to go strong to the hole. Absorbing contact, finishing through and getting some and-ones really carried my game in the second half."
His performance was temporarily overshadowed by a brief brouhaha midway through the second half, as he stepped on the back of Seahawks guard Aaron Frazier -- who was lying on the floor after a missed shot -- in transition. A fan then made his way over to the Bluffton bench in defense of Frazier before being escorted out of the gymnasium.
Dobson said it was accidental, and apologized to Frazier during and after the game.
It only escalated an environment already at a fever pitch, as the Seahawks bench was called for a technical foul shortly thereafter. But emotions aren't what got the best of Hilton Head High (0-6), coach Ken Updike said.
"We got a little stale in our offense," he said. "We talked in the locker room, it was empty possessions."
That was due in part to a Bluffton defense that finally managed to lock down on Seahawks big man Troy Clifford, who tallied 10 of Hilton Head High's 12 first-quarter points. The Bobcats opted to play more half-court, pressure defense in order to force the Seahawks into picking up their dribble while also trying to get up closer on Clifford, who scored just two points in the second half.
"They were aggressive tonight," Bluffton coach Brett Macy said of the Seahawks. "Clifford played like he should play, they played with some aggression, they attacked the rim, they played off the crowd.
"It doesn't really surprise me. It really doesn't."
Macy tried to warn his team their big win over Hilton Head High earlier in the season meant nothing. Nevertheless, the Bobcats eventually managed to pull away late despite a raucous environment and a charged up Seahawks team.
"This is the best we've played," Updike said. "What I told them in the locker room (was), 'I don't know if every time we've got a game, I've got to make you believe we're playing Bluffton.' "
Bluffton boys 54, Hilton Head High 41
Bluffton (5-1) -- D.J. Dobson 20, LaQuan Washington 11, Jae Middleton 9, B.J. Hill 6, Chance Murphy 6, Adriel Willis 2
Hilton Head High (0-6) -- Troy Clifford 14, Bryce Singleton 10, Aaron Frazier 6, Malik Singleton 4, Cameron Halseth 2, Craig Ryan 2, Matt MacDonnel 2, Khalil Marshburn 1
Hilton Head High girls 42, Bluffton 31
Hilton Head High's season sweep over Bluffton was a mixed bag for Dave Greenberg.
The Seahawks' girls basketball coach loved the way his team asserted itself during a first half that saw Hilton Head High take a 16-point lead into the locker room. But a sloppy second half took some of the shine off of the Seahawks' fifth win of the season.
"I thought the first half was very good. Defensively, we were terrific," he said. "In the second half, I don't know if we got cocky or their guys played harder, but we were very, very sloppy. We played at their speed. We weren't very smart in the second half."
Bluffton coach Lonnie Roberts said his team ditched the zone defense it started the game with, as the Seahawks repeatedly managed to find their way inside to Americal Jenkins, who finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
The Bobcats played the rest of the way with their usual man-to-man defense and eventually whittled the deficit down to nine, only to come up short.
"When you're a smaller team, it's always a battle," Roberts said. "The first half we tried to come in with a strategy. Can I say we're a good zone team? Probably not.
" ... We just realized we had to go back to what we really do."
Diamon Smalls paced the Bobcats with a game-high 16 points.
Bluffton (3-2) -- Diamon Smalls 16, Dynasty Mervin 6, Johnnie Gaston 4, Tatyana Fripp 3, Rickii Alexander 2
Hilton Head High (5-1) -- Americal Jenkins 14, Lauryn Bush 6, Savannah Reier 6, Rachel Friend 6, Brennan O'Gorman 5, Tiffany Banks 5