Chalk up one more rescheduled athletic event to Hurricane Matthew, now filtering into basketball season.
The first leg of the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island rivalry now will take place Thursday night, avoiding a Friday conflict with the Bobcats’ Lower State football semifinal against Brookland-Cayce. The girls’ game will tip off at 6 p.m., followed by the boys at 7:30.
“Hurricane Matthew just doesn’t seem to end,” said Joe Monmonier, the Seahawks’ athletics director. “Hopefully people will come out and support us and Bluffton at The Nest.”
Consider this one an indirect hit from Matthew. Under the original scheduling, the basketball games would have gone up against football’s championship weekend in Columbia. Even if the Bobcats were to make it to Williams-Brice Stadium, that game would take place on a Saturday.
But with Hurricane Matthew uprooting two weeks of play, those games were moved to the back of the regular season and the playoffs delayed.
The shuffle will leave the Bobcats without two of their key basketball pieces, with Jermaine Patterson and Tyrese Sandgren playing key roles on the football team. Complicating matters further, coach Michael Tew and his two top aides are football assistants.
“We were in a conundrum,” said Bluffton AD Reggie Fields.
Quipped Monmonier: “It would be hard to play that game without coaches.”
Fields said he brought the issue up with Monmonier a month ago, when the High School League made the decision to push the playoffs back. But they didn’t really get into serious talks until Monday, after Bluffton had booked its place in Class 3A football’s final eight.
After Monmonier consulted with his coaches and the basketball officiating crew already assigned, Thursday became the choice.
Playing the game on Saturday, Monmonier said, wasn’t given much consideration.
“We just felt that getting people here on a Saturday night, with college football — (Clemson in) the ACC Championship — and other stuff going on, it would be tough,” he said. “There’s no great date. We just felt Saturday was (intruding) into next week.”
Said Fields: “We were open to whatever they wanted to do because it was their home game.”
Fields may not be done negotiating, either. Should the football Bobcats advance to next week’s Lower State final, it’ll run up against a hoops visit to Whale Branch.
“I think (Warriors AD Carlos) Cave will no doubt look at what we’re trying to get done,” Fields said. “We’ll figure something out.”
And if Bluffton makes it all the way to Williams-Brice, he’ll be back on the phone to Monmonier about the Bobcats-Seahawks return leg in Bluffton’s gym. Though the football championship is scheduled for a Saturday, it would save coaches and fans from rushing from one site to the other.
“We don’t necessarily have to move it,” Fields said, “but it’s one of those things where it would be turned into a great inconvenience.”