The start seemed familiar.
The Summerville boys basketball team opened with more intensity Friday at Beaufort High School, scored in transition, scored in the paint and gathered loose balls.
The Green Wave's start was reminiscent of its home victory over the Eagles two weeks before. After the first quarter, Beaufort High coach Bruce Beasley told his team as much, that it was headed down the same path.
Something changed late in the first half. The Eagles' defense brought the Green Wave to a standstill much of the remainder of the game, and Beaufort High grinded out a 48-43 victory to pull within a half game of first-place Summerville in Region 8-AAAA. The loss was the Green Wave's first in region play.
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The Eagles (17-4, 5-1 Region 8-AAAA) play two more region games next week. Summerville (13-9, 6-1) has one remaining.
"Last time, we was kind of dead on D, wasn't getting back," said Eagles forward Rakeem Palmer, who led all scorers with 14 points. "This time, Coach told us to be more focused on defense than offense and to get back on D."
Beasley didn't mind the low-scoring affair, if it meant the Green Wave were out of their game. When a fan hollered for Beasley to call for full-court pressure, he responded, "Why? So they can get easy layups?"
Nothing came easy for Summerville. Standout guard J.D. Tucker, who led Summerville's scorers with 12, garnered special attention from Beaufort High's defenders during the second half as the Eagles tried to protect their lead.
Beaufort High's zone defense kept Summerville from scoring easy baskets in the lane and getting to the free-throw line.
"We could just never get any kind of rhythm," Summerville coach Greg Elliott said. "I thought their defense was very good. They forced (Tucker) to make plays and decisions, and we just didn't get enough shots."
With two more victories, the Eagles can force a tiebreaker scenario for the region's No. 1 seed. But like Friday's game, Beasley would prefer to keep that talk in the back of players' minds and force them to focus on a tough road test Tuesday. The Eagles travel to Fort Dorchester, which lost at Beaufort High on Jan. 25.
"We're probably going to have to play a better all-around game than we did tonight," Beasley said. "We're going to have to play for four quarters instead of two."
Summerville (13-9, 6-1 Region 8-AAAA) -- J.D. Tucker 12, Brandon Wilkerson 11, Eric Flowers 9, Jurrell Rice 7, Edreone Brockinston 4
Beaufort High (17-4, 5-1) -- Rakeem Palmer 14, Dymonte Gwathney 10, Jordan Broussard 7, Jordan Adderley 6, Simeon Daise 5, Keith Alston 2, Benji Calderon 2, Ruben Francis 2
Beaufort High girls 58, Summerville 47
A sign posted near the Beaufort High School girls locker room reminds players to remain humble, but hungry.
The Eagles haven't had much trouble with the humble part. It takes only one season without a region win to keep players grounded.
But the hunger might have been lacking, especially the first time Beaufort High played Summerville this season. The Eagles said they played timid, intimidated by the early region game on the road.
No hint of that remained Friday, when the Eagles shocked the Green Wave, winning in surprisingly easy fashion. Beaufort High handed Summerville its first Region 8-AAAA loss of the season and moved into a tie for second place in the league.
"I think we were hungrier, much hungrier," said Eagles guard Jay Shaw, who finished with 14 points. "We were working harder on defense. We wanted it more."
Only two weeks before, Summerville cruised to a 20-point victory over the Eagles. Beaufort High coach Lillian Keeler Aldred said her team built confidence from its two region wins since that loss.
And so at critical junctures Friday, the Eagles refused to fold. They handled Summerville's full-court pressure and worked to keep Green Wave standout Shanolla Council from taking over the game.
Shaw scored eight points in a one-minute span of the third and fourth quarters. The explosion pushed the Eagles' advantage from five to 13 and they held on at the free-throw line.
Summerville (15-10, 6-1 Region 8-AAAA) -- Shanolla Council 18, Brianna Miller 9, Sarah Montel 8, Kierrah Brown 8, Tinara Brown 4
Beaufort High (12-9, 4-2) -- Jay Shaw 14, Ebony Watson 13, Paris Smith 10, Emani Gray 7, Arielle McPhee 4, Mykalah Smalls 4, Veneshia Holmes 4, Stephanie Pollock 2