Taylor MacDonald views an early December meeting with Bluffton High School as the game that changed Hilton Head Christian Academy's season.
Things sure do look different now.
Hilton Head Christian avenged an early-season loss to the Bobcats with a 51-39 home victory Friday night.
The Bobcats ran away with a 23-point win against the Eagles on Dec. 10, a game MacDonald called embarrassing and eye-opening.
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"That last game was so bad that we had to come out here and prove something, because we're much better than that," he said.
They played better Friday night -- and MacDonald was a big reason for it.
The junior forward scored seven of his 18 points in the opening four minutes, including a dunk down the middle of the lane that sparked an early 9-0 run.
The Eagles trailed only once after that point -- 20-18 in the second quarter -- and responded to that deficit with a 12-0 streak that stretched into the third quarter. JaBrook Tucker led Hilton Head Christian with 19 points.
"We felt like a big part of this game was going to be limiting their runs," Eagles coach Vinnie Emery said. "We didn't slow up tonight at any point, and that's a compliment to our guys."
The Eagles certainly played better defense than the first meeting, but the Bobcats didn't help their cause with a poor shooting night. Bluffton made only 4 of 20 from behind the 3-point line, even though Anthony Smith made the team's first attempt of the night.
No Bobcats player was in double figures. Smith and Michael Grant had eight points each.
"We stopped making shots, and we didn't get to the rim," Bobcats coach Brett Macy said. "And because we didn't make shots, they can slow the game down. We need to get the ball out quick, push it up the floor and get moving."
The Bobcats don't have much time to correct their mistakes -- they travel to Hardeeville tonight at 8 p.m.
The Eagles open their region schedule today against Porter-Gaud at 2:30 p.m.
BLUFFTON (5-5) -- Anthony Smith 8, Michael Grant 8, C.J. Frazier 7, Demetrius Smalls 5, Brandon Rivers 4, Bryson Bell 4, Harlan Kendrick 3
HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN (8-3) -- JaBrook Tucker 19, Taylor MacDonald 18, Kyle Weaver 8, Bennett Murphy 4, Brad Meccariello 2
Bluffton girls 47, Hilton Head Christian 21
The Bobcats put a halt to their two-game skid and cruised to victory in their second-to-last region tune-up.
Bluffton opened the game on a 15-3 run in which six players scored. Nine scored in the game, led by eight each from Sheree Williams and Shawanda Stokes. The Bobcats made five 3-pointers.
"We have good shooters -- we have to take advantage by finding open baskets," said Bre Brown, who scored seven points. "When we make shots, we feel like nobody can touch us."
The Eagles never came close and trailed 27-7 at halftime. Anna Bensch had a team-high eight points in the loss.
Bluffton travels to Hardeeville tonight at 6:30 before opening its Region 7-AAA season Tuesday against Lake Marion.
BLUFFTON (7-5) -- Shawanda Stokes 8, Sheree Williams 8, Bre Brown 7, Shannon Gadson 6, Shakeria Kitty 5, Jennifer Giles 5, Tibra Wheeler 3, Janiecia Mitchell 3, Katelyn Grant 2
HHCA (1-10) -- Anna Bensch 8, Jaden Colella 6, Audrey Bensch 3, Becky Woods 2, Kelly Humes 1, Katherine Grant 1