The Bluffton girls’ 7-4A title defense is off to a strong start.
Tacoya Heyward found her groove in the second half, and the Bobcats held off the Seahawks to earn a 43-41 road win Friday night at Hilton Head High and stay perfect in region play.
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Bluffton began the contest on the right footing and found success in the paint to start on a 9-4 run. The speed and craftiness of Heyward and a sweet midrange shot from Samari Mitchell got the Bobcats out in front, but the Seahawks were determined to make this a fight.
Lynda Young was the spark for Russell Raniszewski’s squad. The freshman made a tremendous play early, grabbing her own missed shot and sinking a layup to cut the Bobcat lead to three. Then Janiya Ferebee sprung into action, hitting a jumper before nailing a corner three to trim the deficit to one.
After Heyward answered back with a three on the other end, a pretty floater by Young and a pair of free throws evened the contest at 19. Young and Ferebee continued to light up Bluffton’s defense, combining for 13 of the team’s fifteen in the second quarter. All of a sudden, the Seahawks were walking back to the locker room with a 23-20 halftime lead.
But the Bobcats’ budding superstar stole the show in the third. Heyward erupted for nine points in the quarter, as the Bobcats regained control with a 12-3 run. Freshman Katie Rodney added a key trey before nailing a free throw to put the visitors up five with a quarter to play.
After a sloppy start to the fourth by both teams, Ferebee sank a triple before a clutch Hope Dobbelaere jumper tied the game. But another massive three by Rodney aided by an offensive board put the Bobcats up four down the stretch. Rodney had a chance to lay down the dagger with another triple, but a miss set up a Caroline O’Brien layup to trim the deficit in half.
The Seahawks had to foul as time ticked down. A pair of misses at the line gave the home fans hope, but Heyward snatched away the offensive rebound and sunk a free throw to extend the lead to three with 16 seconds left. Hilton Head couldn’t control the ball on their do-or-die possession, and Rodney shut the door with an easy layup. Young capped off a brilliant game with a three at the buzzer, but it was too little too late for the Seahawks.
Tacoya Heyward shined once again for the Bobcats, leading all scorers with 18 points. Rodney delivered a stellar performance with 11, and Mitchell added seven.
Lynda Young impressed with 14 points for the Seahawks, and Ferebee was right behind with 13. Anna Genova contributed four points and delivered a fantastic effort on the defensive side all night long.
Bluffton (2-1,2-0) travels to First Baptist on Tuesday for a clash with the Hurricanes.
Hilton Head High (1-2, 0-1) hosts Savannah Country Day Tuesday night.
Written by Wes Kerr
Wes Kerr is a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School and Davidson College. He has a passion for statistics and analytics.