The Bluffton High School boys basketball team finished a mere one game above .500 this season. The Bobcats won less games (12) than four other teams in Beaufort and Jasper counties.
So why, you may ask, is Bobcats coach Brett Macy The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette Boys Basketball Coach of the Year?
Well, consider this: The Bobcats competed for the Region 7-AAA championship a year after taking last in the conference. They climbed four spots in the region standings, moving from sixth in 2009-10 to second place in 2010-11 -- which, by the way, is the best finish in the school's seven-year history.
Still not convinced? Bluffton won seven more games than it did the previous season -- which works out to approximately 2 1/2 times more victories -- and it did it with just one senior, Brandon Rivers. Its opening night starting lineup included three sophomores, one of which suffered a season-ending wrist injury in December.
Above all the wins and losses, above all the obstacles and above all the accomplishments, Macy picked one definable quality about this year's Bobcats.
"I really liked this team's competitiveness and its will to win," he said. "We rarely got frustrated with (one another). Everyone just wanted to win. We had great team chemistry."
It was two years in the making.
Bluffton stumbled through a miserable 2009-10 season that included just five victories, but Macy and his coaching staff stayed the course. The refused to label it a rebuilding year, though that's exactly what it was by definition.
Still, for a fiery, competitive coach who isn't afraid to show his emotions on the sideline, the losing streaks took their toll. The Bobcats won only one game in the final two months of the season.
"You had to remind yourself that this is what we're trying to accomplish in the future, and that's what keeps you going," Macy said. "But it's no fun."
The Bobcats saw their payout this year. They were still a young group, but suddenly that didn't necessarily mean inexperienced. Sophomores Anthony Smith and C.J. Frazier -- both all-region selections -- had a full year of varsity basketball under their belts.
By January, it showed. Bluffton started Region 7-AAA play with an overtime win against consensus league-favorite Lake Marion, a victory that jump-started the region season. The Bobcats finished 6-4 in Region 7-AAA, earning a home playoff game, which it lost to Marlboro County.
"They were bigger, they were deeper, and they were seen as the big boy in the region," Macy said of Lake Marion. "That game set the tone for our region. Our young team gained confidence."
Macy is eager to see how long that confidence lasts.
One month after the conclusion of 2010-11, he was already tweaking lineups and mapping out potential strategies for next season
The Bobcats return four of their five starters and their entire bench.
"I think we're primed to make a good run," Macy said. "The future is bright. We could do a lot of things. There's no reason we shouldn't be competing for a region title year in and year out."