Lake Marion boys basketball coach Roy Brown says he has several clutch players.
Samuel White is one. The guard said as much after helping his team to a 68-64 victory at Battery Creek.
"I want the ball in my hands when the game's on the line," White said.
White wasn't the leading scorer, but he hit all of the big shots down the stretch, including the go-ahead basket on a runner in the lane with 24 seconds remaining. The victory helped Lake Marion remain atop Region 7-AAA.
Bluffton High School is currently second with two region losses. Battery Creek's loss was its third, dropping the Dolphins into a tie with Cane Bay, its Friday opponent.
The Dolphins, hoping to create a logjam at the top, instead surrendered what was a six-point lead with four minutes to play.
A White 3-pointer cut the lead in half quickly. Battery Creek coach Antoine Youmans pointed to that shot as the place momentum turned.
The game was rescheduled from its January date after rain leaked into the gym. The Dolphins had won a close road game at Hilton Head High on Tuesday, but Youmans said the quick turnaround had little effect on his team.
The Gators expected a tough road trip, Brown said. He knew the Dolphins reputation from years past but did not know what the current Dolphins looked like.
"We expected them to come out and put a little pressure on us and push the ball up the floor," Brown said. "They have some players. And they gave us a run for our money tonight."
Youmans said his team failed to pick up on Lake Marion's tendencies throughout the game -- that the Gators were going to trap out of the press, that White had found a spot he liked on the left side beyond the arc. But Youmans didn't fault individual effort.
Terrell McWilliams helped carry Battery Creek with 27 points. Justice Oliver continued his strong play by chipping in 10 points, and the Dolphins got solid efforts from the rest of the cast.
The difference came down to the inability to get stops when it counted, Youmans said. And the Gators' trap forced Battery Creek into a 10-second violation before White's go-ahead shot. Youmans said he tried to call timeout but wasn't heard.
His team has three critical games remaining to make some noise, hosting Cane Bay and Bluffton before traveling to Lake Marion to close the regular season.
"It was an important game, our chance to gain (a share of) the No. 1 spot," Youmans said. "That's the way it goes sometimes."
Lake Marion (12-5, 6-1 Region 7-AAA)-- Michael William 18, Khalil Halls 14, Raymond Hilliard 13, Samuel White 9, Marques Watson 7, Trevin Haney 3, Eric Stokes 2, Everette Mitchum 2
Battery Creek (10-12, 4-3)-- Terrell McWilliams 27, Justice Oliver 10, Michael Robinson 8, B.J. Garvin 8, Arnold Mahafee 5, Brent Johnson 4, Rodney Cooper 2
Battery Creek girls 68, Lake Marion 49
Battery Creek's girls needed something to snap their funk during the second half.
The Dolphins, having been whistled for a technical foul, quickly found themselves in a one-possession game with Lake Marion, which had yet to win a region game. Battery Creek coaches issued this reminder: If the Dolphins weren't careful, they would be Lake Marion's first victim.
Battery Creek blew open the game late to move above .500 in region play and strengthen its position in the playoff race.
After a big win Tuesday at Hilton Head High, Battery Creek guarded against a letdown. But midway through the third quarter, the Dolphins appeared to be lagging after handing the Seahawks their first region loss.
They countered by scoring in transition and going inside to senior Ciera Lelie, who scored or forced her way to the free-throw line. Battery Creek's Katrece Daniels led all scorers with 16 points but did not return following her technical foul in the third quarter.
Battery Creek faces three remaining region games. Dolphins coach Bernadette Ulmer said her team is in good shape for a playoff spot, but still focused on its remaining three games.
"Can't complain," she said.
Lake Marion (8-14, 0-7 Region 7-AAA)-- Raven Scales 18, MarQuayla Lee-Parson 9, Samantha Haney 8, Jamika Hanton 8, Latifah Hilliard 4, Cadajag Glenn 2
Battery Creek (10-10, 4-3) --Katrece Daniels 16, Rashidah Jones 15, Deija Cannon 10, Justice Hill 9, Ciara Lelie 8, Nyeeka Simmons 5, Shaniqua Moultrie 2, Kevona Sanders 2, Khadijah Badger 1