The Bluffton High School boys basketball team had returned from its holiday break only to find a laundry list of chores provided by Brett Macy.
The Bobcats coach liked where his team was headed, a 7-3 record and a trip to the championship game of their tournament being the high points. But Macy wanted more out of his group with Region 8-AAAA play looming.
He asked his guards to start getting open better. He challenged his post players to begin using their lower bodies more. "Post up and be big," Macy urged them.
They have done just that.
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Bluffton bullied its way down low Friday night against Fort Dorchester, owning the rebounding edge and scoring at will in the paint en route to a 59-48 win. The victory was the fifth in a row for the Bobcats, who remain on top of the region headed into next Tuesday's showdown at Beaufort High.
"We've really done a good job (in the post) lately," Macy said. "We punished Fort D inside today, and they really had to over-help, which allowed us to reverse the ball pretty easily."
D.J. Dobson once again led the charge, pouring in a game-high 22 points with some nifty moves underneath the basket. The 6-foot-5 transfer was aided down low by 6-6 Adriel Willis -- whose one-handed slam at the buzzer before intermission highlighted his seven-point effort -- and Chance Murphy, who provided several key rebounds.
The trio make up what is Macy's tallest team to date, the fifth-year coach said.
"He's got big, huge hands," Macy said of Dobson. "He finishes up fairly high most of the time and he's very crafty around the rim. He can score with contact, and that's a big asset."
The Bobcats leaned on their strengths in times of need. With the score deadlocked at 14 early on, Bluffton turned to the post for a 7-0 run to create breathing room. And when the Patriots pulled within one midway through the third, Dobson powered his way to the glass to help manufacture a 12-3 surge that put the game away.
"We took advantage of mismatches and started hitting the post," Dobson said. "When they were coming back and they were on their run, we were trying to shoot a lot of contested jump shots."
An asset Bluffton will continue to utilize as it looks for a region championships.
"I think we're a force to be reckoned with," Dobson said. "In (Class) 4-A there's not a lot of dominant, dominant teams in the post. With our height, I think we'll have an advantage going into the playoffs."
Bluffton boys 59, Fort Dorchester 48
Fort Dorchester (11-4, 2-2) -- Eric Heyward 17, Travon Hamilton 17, Ky Reese 8, Daquan Bennett 2, Leon Fields 2, Jaquan Jones 2
Bluffton (12-3, 4-0) -- D.J. Dobson 22, Jae Middleton 14, Adriel Willis 7, Lorenz Taylor 6, LaQuan Washington 4, B.J. Hill 4, Chance Murphy 2
Fort Dorchester girls 54, Bluffton 50 (OT)
Lonnie Roberts liked what he was seeing from his Bluffton girls basketball team through the first four quarters against Fort Dorchester.
Where exactly all those positives went during the four-minute overtime, however, he wasn't so sure.
"Lack of execution at the end," he said. "I couldn't tell you where our intensity level went to."
The Bobcats took a 46-44 lead with 42 seconds to play in regulation on Tatayana Fripp's jumper, but watched as Fort Dorchester's Jailah Melvin sunk a pair of free throws with 5.5 seconds left to send the game into overtime. It was all Patriots from there, as Bluffton was held without a field goal in the extra period and failed to register points until Dynasty Mervin's free throws with 11 seconds to play.
The game was all but over by that point, thanks in part to Melvin's game-high 14 points and Erika Cobb's 12. The two helped pace Fort Dorchester in overtime.
"I told them we played well for four quarters," Roberts said. "(But) we just went into our regular routine. Started turning it over and missing free throws in overtime."
Fort Dorchester -- Jailah Melvin 14, Erika Cobb 12, Chloe Evans 8, Jordan Spueil 8, Victoria English 5, J'Quanna King 4, Darian Wallace 2, Jazzma Cheeks 1
Bluffton (7-10, 0-4) -- Dynasty Mervin 11, Tatayana Fripp 10, Johnnie Gaston 8, Baylor Davis 7, Autumn Card 7, Evian Mitchell 5, Diamon Smalls 2