After dominating for three quarters, Battery Creek’s boys had to hold off a fourth-quarter surge to secure a 39-36 win at Whale Branch on Friday — the Dolphins’ first win over their crosstown rivals in three years.
The Warriors erased most of a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but the Dolphins were able to deny Whale Branch a possession with a chance to tie it in the final seconds. David Smith heaved a baseball pass to Rashard Baker with 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock and Baker dribbled it out to secure the win.
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“I feel good. I think we were well prepared for this,” Dolphins coach CJ Brown said. “We watched a lot of film of the Colleton County game, and we’re still riding off that Colleton County game. We’re still riding that wave.”
Smith led the way offensively for Battery Creek with 13 points, four steals and four rebounds. Jordon Rivers and Kaya George each added seven points for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins started off strong with a Baker bucket, and Rivers electrified the crowd with back-to-back breakaway dunks, forcing Whale Branch coach Jim Raymond to burn two early timeouts. Creek kept up the strong defense, ending the first quarter up 13-4.
Creek’s offense continued its hot start in the second quarter, as David Grober sent home a 3-pointer from the corner and Smith stepped into the passing lane for an easy layup, extending the Dolphins’ lead to nine. Baker and Smith knocked down contested buckets to push the lead up to 14 to end the quarter.
The Warriors battled back during the second half, picking spots to snag loose balls chipping away at the deficit, but their failure to take advantage of opportunities to stay in the game early came back to haunt them. Whale Branch was 5-for-25 from the foul line, while the Dolphins converted 80 percent of their free throws.
Devonta Barnard drained a triple from the top of the key to pull Whale Branch within three with less than 30 seconds to play, but that was the last time the Warriors had possession. Following a mishandled loose ball, Battery Creek retained possession, setting up the final play.
Creek’s defense was able to withstand the late push from Whale Branch to secure the Dolphins second win of the year. The Dolphins did not win their second game until the middle of January last season.
The Warriors did a nice job of containing Creek in the halfcourt set, but the Dolphins used 13 steals — four each from Rivers and Smith and three from Baker — to generate easy buckets.
“That’s going to be the key for us, turning our defense into offense,” Brown said. “We were able to contain Jaylen and AJ was pretty good and a couple of other guys showed up, but we knew what we had to do defensively once we got on the court.”
Battery Creek (2-0) begins a three-game homestand starting Tuesday with Colleton County. The Dolphins defeated the Cougars in the season opening game last Tuesday. Whale Branch (1-1) travels to Estill on Tuesday for a rematch of its season-opening win.
Written by Brackin Lambert / Photos by Justin Jarrett