One thing was evident in Bluffton's 58-50 Class 4-A boys basketball playoff victory over Blythewood on Thursday night at Bluffton High School -- D.J. Dobson was the best player on the floor.
The only problem for Bobcats coach Brett Macy, though, was keeping Dobson on the floor.
After a 16-point first half, Dobson picked up two quick fouls just before the five-minute mark of the third quarter, leading to five straight Blythewood points.
Forced to sit with three fouls, Dobson could only watch as Blythewood made its move.
"I knew when I was out of the game, they were going to get some energy," Dobson said.
Over the next seven minutes, the Bengals harassed and pestered the Bobcats, cutting what had once been a 14-point advantage to a 43-41 lead when Macy motioned for Dobson to re-enter the game at the 6:13 mark of the fourth quarter.
"You don't want to put him in too early and have him get a fourth (foul) with five or six minutes left, and then you've got to sit him for another few minutes," Macy said. "The guys that were on the floor did a good job of spelling him, and (Blythewood) never did take the lead. They got close, so I was able to put him in when I wanted to."
And when Macy did put him back in, Dobson picked up right where he'd left off.
In his first minute back on the court, Dobson scored four points and blocked two shots. Down the stretch, he sank both of his free-throw attempts, blocked another shot and came out of a scrum on the floor with the ball, before making a stellar outlet pass to Jae Middleton that resulted in a foul and two made free throws.
"I knew that I was going to have to come in and try and make a difference," Dobson said. "Coming in, I got the foul and hit the jump shot and it was like a little mini-run. But I have complete trust in our players. I knew they would handle it when i was not out on the court."
Blythewood was forced to foul down the stretch, and Bluffton made its free throws to hold the Bengals off.
Dobson finished with a game-high 22 points and a handful of blocked shots for the Bobcats (15-6), while Chance Murphy, B.J. Hill and Jae Middleton each added 10 points for Bluffton.
Blythewood finishes the season at 12-15, while Bluffton travels to face Sumter on Saturday evening. The Gamecocks defeated Aiken 54-39.
Blythewood (12-15) -- Cameron Womack 13, Kialid Shakur-Harris 8, Trae Chum 8, Jacohia Bailey 6, Donnaron Leach 6, Kenny McCary 5, Eli Lake 2, Kris Pam 2.
Bluffton (15-6) -- D.J. Dobson 22, Chance Murphy 10, Jae Middleton 10, B.J. Hill 10, A. Willis 4, L. Taylor 2.