Cane Bay's boys basketball team spent more than two hours in its bus on the way to Bluffton High School on Tuesday.
The Bobcats knew that.
An opponent's road weariness is among the advantages of being the home team, and Bluffton coach Brett Macy is sure to emphasize the point each time his Bobcats face a team coming from a good distance away. Jump on them early. Don't let up.
The Bobcats know the dangers of a slow start on the road. They were flat at Lake Marion last week and fell by 15 after defeating the region leaders at home earlier in the season.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Island Packet
Bluffton used the comforts of home Tuesday to spur a hot start and blew out Cane Bay, 72-44, to remain in contention for a home playoff berth from Region 7-AAA.
"It's the same thing when we go up there," Macy said. "When Berkeley and Cane Bay and Lake Marion come down here, it's a long trip. We've jumped on those teams that have to travel far. And you have to do that."
After not making a 3-pointer during Friday's loss at Lake Marion, Bobcats guard C.J. Frazier made four Tuesday. When Frazier is on, it opens things up for his teammates, said Michael Grant, who finished with nine points.
And the Bobcats were able to score often in transition, breaking the Cane Bay pressure for easy baskets and a huge advantage early. Bluffton's Demetrius Smalls and Brandon Rivers benefited from the fast pace, combining for 24 points.
Macy said he was concerned his players would let up during the third quarter. The Bobcats had been complacent in the past, allowing Berkeley back into a game late and losing in overtime.
Not Tuesday. Bluffton kept the pressure on and emptied its bench with three minutes remaining.
Bluffton and Battery Creek each have two region losses, with the Dolphins hosting Lake Marion tonight. Bluffton and Battery Creek meet again next week, but the Bobcats control their path to the No. 2 seed and home playoff spot.
The Bobcats are more comfortable at home, shoot better at home and don't want the long bus rides that begin the demise of many teams, Grant said. Players break each huddle with the chant of "Region."
The next test: a road trip to Berkeley.
"We've got to finish out hard and get this win at Berkeley," Grant said. "We're going after them, because they beat us last time."
Cane Bay (6-11, 3-3 Region 7-AAA) -- Pierre Matthews 20, Henry Taylor 13, Jiquan Hammond 4, Kevin Lane 4, Traevon Doctor 2, Deron Gomez 1
Bluffton (11-8, 5-2 Region 7-AAA) -- C.J. Frazier 17, Brandon Rivers 14, Demetrius Smalls 10, Michael Grant 9, Anthony Smith 9, Harlan Kendrick 4, Sherman Smalls 3, Chris Davis 3, B.J. Hill 3
Bluffton girls 54, Cane Bay 37
Bluffton girls basketball coach Lonnie Roberts debated at halftime whether to tell his players the news: Battery Creek had beaten Hilton Head High School earlier Tuesday.
The result meant the Bobcats still could have a shot at the Region 7-AAA title when the rivals meet to end the regular season. Roberts wanted to tell his players after the game. His assistant coaches convinced him to share the information at the half, saying the girls could use the news as motivation.
After the jubilant scene in the locker room, the Bobcats showed no signs of distraction, closing out another region victory.
The Bobcats struggled during the first meeting with Cane Bay -- Bluffton led 2-1 after one quarter -- before emerging with a close victory.
Bluffton's Jennifer Giles made sure there were no fireworks this time, scoring eight consecutive points during a 45-second stretch of the second quarter and adding a 3-pointer soon after. She finished with a game-high 16 points. Tibra Wheeler added 13.
Those were the weapons Roberts said were silenced when the Bobcats first played Hilton Head High. But he said the Bobcats aren't dwelling on the rematch yet, that the focus is on each game until then.
Cane Bay (6-13, 2-5 Region 7-AAA) -- Tierra Fischler 12, Shatejzia Robinson 10, Lindsay Manning 6, Angelique Green 5, Alaina Haney 2, Ashlee Eady 2
Bluffton (14-6, 5-1 Region 7-AAA) -- Jennifer Giles 16, Tibra Wheeler 13, Sheree Williams 6, Shawanda Stokes 5, Katelyn Grant 4, Shannon Gadson 4, Toniqua Winn 2, Monique Bryant 2, Kaitlyn Sherrell 2