This Battery Creek High School boys basketball team seems to have finally settled on an identity.
The Dolphins were without point guard Adonis Williams until after the holiday break. Then senior guard Yuneek Crittendon was dismissed from the team with two games left in the regular season.
Battery Creek players have learned their bench is capable and that their job is to continue forward.
With contributions from a variety of sources Thursday to open the Class 2-A playoffs, Battery Creek ran away from Wade Hampton at home to win 70-40. The Dolphins travel to Calhoun County on Saturday with the Battery Creek girls team.
"We played sound basketball," senior Raheem Cooper said. "We're sending a message out."
Battery Creek coach Anotine Youmans started senior Cleveland Hampton to build a taller lineup against a small Wade Hampton team.
His primary post threat, 6-foot-5 Eric Freeman, imposed himself with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Wade Hampton, a young team with no true post player, eventually wilted.
"We just felt like there were certain areas we could take advantage of them on, especially on the block," Youmans said.
After the Red Devils pulled within 21-20 during the second quarter, Battery Creek switched to a zone defense and finished the half on an 11-0 run.
Wade Hampton coach Shelby Strother said his team was too passive against the Dolphins' zone when the shots weren't falling.
"If you don't hit the outside shot, a night like this can happen," he said.
Youmans and the Dolphins watched video of one of Wade Hampton's regular-season games to help build a plan.
Strother received no report on Battery Creek or Freeman. He had little answer for the Dolphins' big man.
"We knew we had to box out," Freeman said. "We knew they had one dude that could jump and shooters on the team."
Freeman and leading-scorer Devonte Wilson, who also finished with 14 points Thursday, have helped the Dolphins remain steady through the changes. Sophomore Tyrone Dilbert was brought up from junior varsity to help provide the level of defense lost with Crittendon.
The adjustments helped the Dolphins reach the second round for the first time under Youmans, who is in his fourth season. Escaping the second round would mean knocking off the Region 5 champions.
"We've just got to be prepared for a rough matchup," Youmans said.
Battery Creek boys 70, Wade Hampton 40
Wade Hampton (11-10) -- Malik Ford 11, Daniel Gordon 8, Keante Jackson 6, Kevin Dunbar 4, Brenden Strother 3, Donte Joyner 2, Buster Murdaugh 2, Quan Harris 2, Wesley Riley 2
Battery Creek (17-7) -- Eric Freeman 14, Devonte Wilson 14, Adonis Williams 10, Raheem Cooper 8, Miguel Crawley 5, Christian Brown 5, Cleveland Hampton 4, Jeffery Darden 3, Markell Smalls 2, Tyion Brunson 2, Wendell Roberson 2, Tyrone Dilbert 1