Brent Johnson had all the motivation he needed.
He was embarrassed, upset and just plain annoyed when Bluffton High School came from behind to defeat Battery Creek four weeks ago -- a game the Dolphins point guard felt his team let slip away because of its refusal to fight back.
Round Two had the feel of a backyard brawl Tuesday night -- and this time the Dolphins dropped their gloves, landed the night's substantial punches and knocked the Bobcats from the second seed in Region 7-AAA. Battery Creek finished with a 53-43 win to move into second place in the league, one game ahead of Bluffton.
"We hadn't forgotten about that game -- I promise you that," said Johnson, who led the Dolphins with 12 points. "We came to play hard tonight, and the defense executed and played all out."
The Dolphins' defensive intensity -- and especially their physical nature -- prevented the Bobcats from getting into an offensive rhythm.
Bluffton scored 82 in its meeting with Battery Creek on Jan. 21, but it made only 2 of 13 3-point attempts Tuesday night and failed to respond to Battery Creek's toughness.
Brandon Rivers led the Bobcats with 16 points.
"It's a shame that this game was basically for the No. 2 seed and we had to play a football game -- that's not basketball," Bobcats coach Brett Macy said. "... That's frustrating. There was no rhythm to the basketball game because it was a hack-fest.
"On our side, though, we have to understand the way the game is being called, and then we need to respond, and we didn't do that."
The Dolphins were ready for it and took advantage in the second half. The teams traded the lead four times in the first half, and Battery Creek took a 21-20 advantage into the locker room. It trailed only once in the third quarter and used the fourth to gradually expand its lead to double digits.
"We wanted to make sure tonight that we kept track of the 3-point shooters in transition and force them to take it to the basket," Dolphins coach Antoine Youmans said. "We wanted to make sure everything was a contested and earned bucket. We did a great job of that."
B.J. Garvin and Justice Oliver each added 10 points for Battery Creek, which still needs a win Friday at region-leading Lake Marion to clinch the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AAA.
The loss for the Bobcats -- their third in four games -- drops them into third place with a game remaining at Hilton Head High. If the Bobcats defeat the Seahawks and get help from Lake Marion, they would host a first-round playoff game instead of the Dolphins because of the league's tiebreaker rules.
BLUFFTON (11-10, 5-4 Region 7-AAA) -- Brandon Rivers 16, Michael Grant 12, Bryson Bell 6, C.J. Frazier 5, Anthony Smith 4.
BATTERY CREEK (11-12, 6-3) -- Brent Johnson 12, Justice Oliver 10, B.J. Garvin 10, Terrell McWilliams 7, Arnold Mahafee 7, Leroy Jennette 5, Rodney Cooper 2.
Battery Creek girls 53, Bluffton 46
Katrece Daniels didn't want to lose her final game at Battery Creek's home gym -- and she certainly didn't want the loss to fall on her shoulders.
Thanks to her fourth-quarter performance, she avoided both.
Daniels hit a key 3-pointer and followed with a layup as part of a 9-0 run that gave the Dolphins their first lead of the fourth quarter. They held onto it and ended the game on a 16-3 run.
Daniels finished with 11 points despite scoring just three in the opening half. Nyeeka Simmons had a game-high 16.
"When we're down, I can't give up, so my thing is to try to keep my team motivated to finish the game off," Daniels said. "(The 3-pointer) felt good. It really did."
After starting 2-3 in region play, the Dolphins have won four straight heading into a meeting with winless Lake Marion on Friday.
"We knew we could've done better than we did in the first round of the region," Daniels said. "Once we all play better as a team, we noticed we play really good."
The loss prevents Bluffton from having a chance to win Region 7-AAA. The Bobcats can pull even with region-leading Hilton Head High with a win on Friday against the Seahawks, but would still lose to the Seahawks on a tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed.
Tibra Wheeler scored 13 and Sheree Williams had nine in the loss for the Bobcats, who used a 13-3 run in the third quarter to take a two-point lead into the fourth before allowing the Dolphins to claw back. Bluffton turned the ball over 19 times.
BLUFFTON (16-7, 7-2 Region 7-AAA) -- Tibra Wheeler 13, Sheree Williams 9, Shakeria Kitty 7, Shannon Gadson 6, Katelyn Grant 4, Bre Brown 4, Jennifer Giles 3.
BATTERY CREEK (12-10, 6-3) -- Nyeeka Simmons 16, Justice Hill 11, Katrece Daniels 11, Rashidah Jones 9, Deija Cannon 6.