By Justin Jarrett
After being frustrated by Hilton Head Prep’s defensive intensity for a half, Beaufort Academy girls basketball rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit and Mike’Ala Washington converted an and-1 with 2.3 seconds left to lift the Eagles to a thrilling 43-41 home win over the Dolphins in a key SCISA Region 4 matchup.
The Dolphins were in command at the half, forcing turnovers and allowing few open looks as they limited the Eagles to two points in the second quarter and went up 27-15 at the break when Haylee Hopman got free for a layup on an inbounds play with two seconds left in the half.
But it was a completely different story in the second half, as the Eagles made key adjustments at the break and began finding paths to the basket. Tahleea Heyward made brilliant cuts to the basket for two big buckets and Washington scored seven points in the third to help close the gap to eight going to the fourth, and BA picked up the intensity in the final eight minutes.
Washington scored her first points of the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws to give BA its first lead at 40-39, but Katie Campbell drew a foul at the other end and knocked down both shots to put HHP back in front with less than 30 seconds remaining.
BA coach Andrew Ienuso called timeout before the pivotal possession and drew up a play, telling Washington to take it upon herself if things broke down. They did, and the BA star found herself isolated at the top of the key and drove to her right, getting to the block and drawing a foul while fnishing strong and converting the three-point play.
The Dolphins got off a desperate shot at the buzzer, but it was well off the mark and the Eagles escaped with an impressive comeback win.
“What I love about this team is they never quit,” Ienuso said. “When they get down, they just keep going.”
Washington scored 17 points to lead BA, while Heyward added 12 and Kamirah Freeman had eight. Katie Campbell scored 12 points and Ella Clark added 10 to lead HHP, which let another opportunity to knock off a quality team slip away down the stretch.
“Our team is plagued with turnovers and has struggled to close games all season,” HHP coach Phillip Hartman said. “Some of that is on the players, and a lot of that is on me. Coach needs to do a better job.”
Dolphins hand BA boys first region loss
In a matchup of undefeated teams in SCISA Region 4, Hilton Head Prep boys basketball sucked the drama out of Beaufort Academy’s gym early and held the Eagles at bay the rest of the way for an impressive 63-43 road win Friday.
JJ Hayes put up 15 points and nine rebounds, Sean Cusano posted another double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks, and Kane Eanes had 14 points and five boards to power HHP, which used its excellent transition game to produce easy buckets early and exploited its strength in the paint all night.
Braydon Dineen collected 12 points, six rebounds, and five steals to lead BA, and freshman Amarion Wilson added eight points and seven boards, but the Eagles were a bit out of sync in the first half and couldn’t chip away at a 20-point halftime deficit against a Prep team that was in top form.
Hayes and Eanes repeatedly sliced into the lane and finished at the rim, and Cusano was at his best, using his long frame and versatile skillset to carve up the defense and crash the boards. BA settled in after the half and carved into the lead, but the Dolphins had an answer each time the Eagles surged.
Former BA guard Ben Frey had an excellent night in his return to his former home court, scoring nine points to go with three steals and frustrating BA’s guards on defense. Ryan Mikell also made his return from injury for the Dolphins and scored five points in limited action in his first appearance since the season-opener Nov. 22.