High School Sports

Bluffton boys top HHH, stay atop region

Anthony Smith said it was like some sort of childhood dream.

A hostile road environment against an archrival, and the basketball in his hands -- Smith had played it out in his head too many times to count.

He doesn't have to imagine anymore. Smith turned fantasy to reality Tuesday night.

Bluffton High School's point guard poured in a season-high 17 points -- including eight in the opening quarter -- to give the Bobcats a 57-42 win at Hilton Head High. The Bobcats moved into first place in Region 7-AAA with four wins in five league games.

In a rivalry that typically produces nerves and early-game jitters, Smith stepped onto Hilton Head High's court ready to play. He sank a pair of early 3-pointers, then followed them with a driving layup to give Bluffton an 11-point lead in the first five minutes.

"Once I hit that first one, I knew it was on," Smith said. "If I hit the first one out of the gate, it's over."

On paper, it was -- the Bobcats never trailed after their game-opening 15-4 run.

But the Seahawks, behind a valiant effort from Desmond Bush, gave them their best comeback attempt. Bush played through an ankle injury that sidelined him after the game's first play.

If the injury affected him after his return, it certainly didn't show. He scored 10 of his team-leading 16 points in the third quarter, and the Seahawks cut the lead to just two points with 16 seconds remaining in the quarter, appearing to set up an exciting finish.

The Bobcats didn't allow that. They responded to their rival with a 17-4 spurt to close out the game.

"They came out, and we took their best punch and battled back -- I'm happy with that," Seahawks coach Ken Updike said. "... Desmond Bush has been hurt for two-plus weeks. He showed a lot of character in bringing us back."

The Bobcats have had no shortage of character themselves. A year after winning one region game, they are 4-1 in the region, one-half game ahead of Lake Marion.

Bluffton travels to Lake Marion on Friday.

"We've set the target on our back," Bobcats coach Brett Macy said. "Our goal was to win the region, because we wanted to set the bar high for a young team. We've put ourselves in a position to go get it."

BLUFFTON (10-7, 4-1 Region 7-AAA) -- Anthony Smith 17, Brandon Rivers 11, C.J. Frazier 8, Bryson Bell 8, Harlan Kendrick 6, Michael Grant 4, Demetrius Smalls 3.

HILTON HEAD HIGH (8-11, 1-4) -- Desmond Bush 16, T.J. Clay 12, Will McCarty 5, Michael Julian 4, Alex MacDonald 4, Desmond Bonaparte 1.