High School Sports

Berkeley gives Bluffton boys their first region loss

DeVante Cunningham says he's a cocky player on the basketball court, and he shows it from the moment his name is announced during the starting lineups.

Over the past two weeks, though, Berkeley's leading scorer hasn't had much to brag about -- the Stags dug themselves into an 0-2 hole to start Region 7-AAA play.

Cunningham got his swagger back Tuesday night.

Berkeley's go-to guard scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Stags to a 58-53 overtime win at Bluffton High School, dealing the Bobcats their first loss of the region season.

The two teams fought to a 51-51 tie at the end of regulation -- thanks to a tying 3-pointer from Bluffton guard Anthony Smith with 15 seconds left -- before Cunningham accounted for all seven of the Stags' points in overtime.

"We said we wanted to come out and win this region, and you can't do that if you start 0-3," Cunningham said. "We beat one of the best teams in the region tonight, and now we feel we can beat anybody in this region."

The Bobcats (8-7, 2-1 Region 7-AAA) missed an opportunity to keep the Stags reeling. Using an uptempo offense to break Berkeley's press, Bluffton led 18-5 after the first quarter.

But the Stags, who arrived an hour late because their team bus broke down, quickly woke up in the second quarter. After committing nine turnovers in the opening quarter, they turned the ball over just nine times in the final three quarters and overtime combined.

The Stags (8-9, 1-2) took a 33-32 lead in the third quarter -- their first since 3-0 -- and the teams traded the lead seven times over the remainder of the game.

"We let one slip, sure, but make no mistake -- that's a good team," Bobcats coach Brett Macy said. "We wanted to get out and jump on them early, which we did. But we gave up the lead too quickly, and they jumped on us."

Each of the Bobcats' first three games in Region 7-AAA play have been decided by five points or less.

BERKELEY (58) DeVante Cunningham 23, Kevin Krieger 10, Matthew Bryant 9, Rashard Pelage 6, Dominique Hooks 6, Bradley Harrison 2, Antwone Little 2.

BLUFFTON (53) Brandon Rivers 19, Anthony Smith 12, C.J. Frazier 9, Demetrius Smalls 5, Bryson Bell 4, Michael Grant 3, B.J. Hill 1.

Bluffton girls 37, Berkeley 27

When Sheree Williams describes Bluffton's offense, she calls it dynamic because of the number of players that can score.

The Bobcats failed to show that Tuesday night -- scoring more than 10 points in only one of the four quarters -- but their defense certainly picked up the slack. Bluffton forced 21 turnovers and never trailed after the opening quarter to improve to 3-0 in Region 7-AAA.

The Bobcats (12-5, 3-0 Region 7-AAA) are tied for first in the region standings with rival Hilton Head High, which defeated Lake Marion on Tuesday. The teams will meet for the first time Tuesday.

"It gives us confidence that we can win even when we're not making shots," Williams said. "... Offensively, we were rushing our shots. We know patience is key. We need to move the ball more because when we don't rush shots, we can score the ball."

Williams still did her part offensively, scoring 17 points, but no other Bobcats player finished with more than seven.

Leanna Morrison led Berkeley (4-7, 1-2) with 14.

BERKELEY (27) Leanna Morrison 14, Mekko Brown 8, Carla Funk 3, Alex Ravenell 2.

BLUFFTON (37) Sheree Williams 17, Shakeria Kitty 7, Jennifer Giles 4, Tibra Wheeler 4, Bre Brown 3, Shannon Gadson 2.