With just two games remaining in the Region 7-AAA schedule, it's become certain Hilton Head High and Bluffton High School -- currently tied for first in the girls standings -- will meet with a region title on the line Friday night.
Although each team has one game prior to that matchup -- Bluffton travels to Battery Creek on Tuesday and Hilton Head High travels to Berkeley -- the rivals would at most be separated by one game heading into Friday night. If either team loses Tuesday, it could make up the difference with a win Friday.
The Seahawks defeated Bluffton once already this year, a 30-20 victory in a defensive battle Jan. 25. The Bobcats shot just 14 percent in that contest and failed to top eight points in any quarter.
"They play great defense, but we have to take better shots -- we rushed some shots," Bobcats coach Lonnie Roberts said after the game.
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The Bobcats' game Tuesday may prove even more key. With three straight victories, Battery Creek has just three losses in region play and can still tie Bluffton for the league's No. 2 seed and a home playoff game in the first round of the Class 3-A playoffs. The Dolphins would need two victories this week, coupled with two Bluffton losses.
EAGLES PRESS THE ISSUE
Beaufort High School's girls basketball team did not start the season well.
It learned before the season one of its top players, Deja Jackson, would not return from an injury suffered during volleyball season. And the Eagles required a lot of time to begin playing together.
But first-year coach Lillian Keeler Aldred has seen a transformation in her team. Against Summerville on Friday, the Eagles avenged an earlier 20-point loss from earlier in the season. Beaufort High pressed throughout the game, something they had not done at all during the first game. The Eagles created turnovers and easy baskets and kept the Green Wave from doing the same on the other end, often a consequence of a broken press.
"We knew it would be a bit of a surprise," Aldred said. "And it worked."
Aldred said the Eagles have also worked on becoming mentally strong, to stay in the game for its duration. The team pulled into a tie for second in Region 8-AAAA with games remaining against Fort Dorchester and Colleton County.
The Eagles loss to Colleton County was reminiscent of the Summerville loss, Aldred said. She hopes her team responds the same way Friday.
"I feel like we're improving every time we hit the floor," she said.
NO INK YET
National Signing Day has come and gone, but two Hilton Head Christian Academy football players still hope to land on college rosters next fall.
Linebacker Jake Crandall is weighing offers from a pair of NCAA Division II schools -- Kentucky Wesleyan and Brevard (N.C.) -- as well as an invited walk-on spot at North Greenville. Crandall also has visited Averett (Va.) and has visits scheduled for two more NCAA Division III schools -- LaGrange (Ga.) and Methodist (N.C.).
Fellow linebacker Tyshawn Walls hopes to play at the junior-college level.
JaBrook Tucker, a standout on the Eagles' football and basketball teams, hopes to play college basketball.
FORMER EAGLE LANDS AT ERSKINE
Former Hilton Head Christian soccer standout Peter Savarese signed a letter of intent Wednesday to attend Erskine College on a soccer scholarship, joining Hilton Head High's Will McCarty and Beaufort High School's Andrew Settlemire among the Flying Fleet's recruiting class.
Savarese attended Hilton Head Christian through his junior year but transfered to Pinewood Prep in Summerville for his senior year after being selected to play for the Coastal United Academy soccer club. He missed part of his junior season with the Eagles after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in April, but was cleared to play soccer in September and drew recruiting interest from Erskine, Presbyterian and several NCAA Division III schools.