This time there was no panic. Hilton Head High never allowed a reason for it.
The Seahawks began to dig themselves out of a hole with a convincing 56-37 win against visiting Berkeley on Friday night.
They earned their first Region 7-AAA victory after an 0-3 start, and they showed the progression of a team that learned its lesson. Hilton Head High had a win in its grasp in the region opener against Cane Bay, but it blew a 13-point lead in the final five minutes -- and the loss has since stuck with the Seahawks, who rode a three-game losing streak into Friday's matchup with the Stags.
"It was a buzzkill," senior Will McCarty said. "We've definitely thought about that a lot loss. And tonight we closed out a basketball game like we should -- very well."
McCarty played his part. A sharp-shooting guard, he took his game inside Friday night.
Although he may be undersized there -- he's only 5-foot-7 -- he found plenty of success in the paint. Despite not making a perimeter shot, McCarty scored a game-high 21 points and made 11 of 14 free-throw attempts.
He wasn't the only player to contribute at the free-throw line -- the Seahawks made 25 of 35 free throws in the game, including 13 of 15 in the second half to keep Berkeley from mounting a comeback. The Seahawks took an eight-point lead into halftime and led by at least five over the final two quarters.
"We're back," Seahawks coach Ken Updike said. "The team that I thought we were a couple weeks ago is back. We can play with anybody in the region. It's a matter of executing whatever plan we have."
DeVante Cunningham led Berkeley with 16 points, though he managed only four in the second half.
Michael Julian added 11 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks for the Seahawks, who host rival Bluffton High School on Tuesday.
BERKELEY (8-10, 1-3 Region 7-AAA) DeVante Cunningham 16, Antwone Little 4, Bradley Harrison 4, Kevin Krieger 3, Omaine Thomas 2, Rashard Pelage 2, Rashawn Hutchinson 2, Matthew Bryant 2, Ryan Locklear 2.
HILTON HEAD HIGH (8-10, 1-3) Will McCarty 21, Michael Julian 11, T.J. Clay 7, Alex MacDonald 6, Desmond Bush 4, Kevin Champen 3, Shakane Simmons 3, Quintin Smalls 1.
Hilton Head High girls 43, Berkeley 26
In a season filled with impressive -- and perhaps unexpected -- wins, the Seahawks may have notched their best one yet Friday night, considering the circumstances.
Despite two starters -- Margo Dill and Sara Manesiotis -- limited with illnesses, the Seahawks had no problem improving to 17-1 on the year and 4-0 in Region 7-AAA.
Dill still led the way with 16 points but said she was affected with flu-like symptoms that caused her to miss a day of school earlier in the week.
"I thought we did really well -- we worked well as a team," Dill said. "We all clicked tonight, which was kind of unexpected since a lot of us are fighting an illness right now."
Manesiotis, who also had to sit out Tuesday's game at Lake Marion, didn't start and played only limited minutes. The Seahawks marched on without their point guard and turned the ball over just 14 times.
Hilton Head High hopes to be feeling better for Tuesday night -- it will host rival Bluffton, which is also undefeated in region play following Friday's win against Battery Creek. The winner will gain a leg up on earning the league's top playoff seed next month.
BERKELEY (5-10, 1-3) Leanna Morrison 12, Alex Ravenell 8, Mekko Brown 6.
HILTON HEAD HIGH (17-1, 4-0) Margo Dill 16, Sabrina Drammis 8, Tashawna Washington 7, Lauryn Bush 6, Shy Flemming 3, Jamacia King 2, Victoria Lobaugh 1.