Entering the most important segment of the season, the Battery Creek High School boys basketball team had been reeling.
Consecutive losses in Region 6-AA after a 6-0 start troubled the Dolphins. On Friday, with a chance to rebuild momentum, Battery Creek delivered, defeating Bishop England 56-37 behind an inspired defensive effort.
"Our last few games, we just didn't play smart," Battery Creek coach Antoine Youmans said. "We played hard; we've always played with effort, but the last few games we just didn't execute. I felt like our defense was a whole lot better than it was the last couple of games."
Battery Creek improved to 7-2 in 6-AA and can grab the region's top spot with a victory Saturday at Ridgeland-Hardeeville. The Jaguars' only region loss came at Battery Creek in December.
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The Dolphins will try for the sweep Saturday. The confidence was back after the blowout of the Bishops.
"We're getting better as a team, and I feel like they can't stop us," Battery Creek guard Adonis Williams said of the Dolphins' trip to Ridgeland-Hardeeville. "They've got a couple good players, but one player can't win the game."
Williams said the Dolphins shared the ball better Friday. No Dolphin reached double figures, with Williams and Tavian Heyward leading the way with nine points each.
Nine Battery Creek players scored as the Dolphins solved the Bishop England zone. Heyward's nine points came on three 3-pointers.
"We just wasn't coming together," Williams said of Battery Creek's recent rough patch. "We just lost focus, lost teamwork, everything just fell down."
The Battery Creek defense wore on Bishop England. In the fourth quarter, the Bishops managed only two field goals, the last with three seconds remaining after Battery Creek had pulled its starters.
Bishop England went a stretch of 6:37 during the second half without making a shot from the floor.
"We didn't put them on the line too much," Youmans said. "We didn't get fouls 94 feet away from the basket -- not a whole lot, anyway. We just talked about making IQ plays, plays that didn't stop our run."
Battery Creek boys 56, Bishop England 37
Bishop England (9-10, 5-4 Region 6-AA) -- Dillon Corbett 14, Taylor Howell 6, B.J. Grevey 6, Ivan Fields 4, Lawton Fosberry 3, Robert Butler 2, Ben Carico 2
Battery Creek (12-6, 7-2) -- Adonis Williams 9, Tavian Heyward 9, Yuneek Crittendon 8, Eric Freeman 8, Devonte Wilson 7, Christian Brown 7, Jason Green 4, Jeffery Darden 3, Raheem Cooper 1
Bishop England girls 71, Battery Creek 53
Paul Runey knew the depth of the Bishop England girls basketball team would eventually produce its typical result Friday.
The Bishops coach directs a balanced and talented group that includes penetrating guards and post players capable underneath. And if that wasn't enough, the Bishop England girls have the size to out-muscle opponents at seemingly every position.
As a result, the Bishops swept the Dolphins, delivering Battery Creek its only two losses in Region 6-AA.
"The first time we played them, I probably didn't give them as much credit as I should have, and I was more critical of what we didn't do than what they did," Runey said. "And the more I looked at the tape, I knew they were a pretty good team. They just don't have the depth we have."
Runey wanted contested shots from Battery Creek guards Daisja Cannon and Taniqua Mungin. He expected them to earn their usual numbers but wanted the Dolphins' standouts to work.
Cannon finished with 26 to match Bishop England's Michele Boykin. But each time Battery Creek began a run, Bishop England produced an answer.
The Dolphins pulled within four early in the third quarter with an 8-0 run. Bishop England responded with a 14-2 burst and never allowed the lead to slip within single digits after that.
Bishop England (17-1, 9-0 Region 6-AA) -- Michele Boykin 26, Mary Harriet Moore 17, Eran Antigues 15, Erin Rose 7, Carolina McQueeney 4, Anna Marie Penninger 2
Battery Creek (13-5, 7-2) -- Daisja Cannon 26, Taniqua Mungin 14, Brianna Tolbert 6, Maty Dearsman 4, Ericka Alston 3