The Beaufort High boys scrapped and clawed their way back late, but they couldn’t stop a dialed-in Will McCracken on Friday. Hilton Head High’s stellar senior poured in 27 points and the Seahawks held off Beaufort 73-62 to remain undefeated in region play and take a big early step towards a top-two finish and a playoff berth.
The battle got off to a blazing start. Beaufort’s Rush Riley soared out of the gates, knocking down two jumpers while Hilton Head’s Sam Summa and McCracken attacked the rim, scoring buckets on layups and floaters to kickstart their squad’s offense.
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Then the Seahawks really got the show started. Reliable sharpshooter Adam Clark banged home a three from the corner before McCracken brought the house down with another rim-rattling slam while being fouled and finished off a pivotal three-point play. But Riley’s hot touch and his six first-quarter points kept the Eagles right there.
That all changed in the second quarter. Hilton Head came into the second period on fire, scoring on each of its first four possessions. It was deja vu, as another Clark three and McCracken jam put the crowd into a frenzy and the ‘Hawks into the driver’s seat.
The offensive explosiveness translated over to the other end, as McCracken swatted balls away and led his defense into forcing tough Beaufort shots. Oliver Holmes made some impressive plays in hopes of sparking an Eagle rally, but the Seahawks continued to move the ball well on offense and fight hard for rebounds. Hilton Head sank seven free throws in the period, and Clark continued his hot shooting to take a 12-point advantage into halftime.
“I think we’re all just getting better together,” McCracken said. “Our connection as a team is just getting stronger and stronger.”
The lead ballooned all the way to 19, as McCracken powered his way to a layup and finished off a three-point play, but the ‘Hawks fell asleep as the third quarter went on. Beaufort forced a series of Seahawk turnovers and turned them into crucial points. Holmes found his groove from long range and knocked down a pair of threes, and Riley drained a triple at the buzzer, giving the Eagles life with one period to play.
Despite several players in foul trouble, they didn’t stop producing. After some rust in the first half playing their first game in 24 days, the Beaufort offense kicked into high gear late. Riley continued to take the starring role, finding his way to the rim for six points in the quarter, as the visitors took advantage of some Hilton Head miscues to cut the lead that was once 19 all the way down to three.
But McCracken wanted no more of Beaufort’s comeback bid. The senior came through with an and-one to put a halt to the rally. Beaufort’s Joseph Combs kept the pressure on with a corner three, but the Seahawks took care of business at the line, making 11 of 13 from the stripe to slam the door shut and stay unbeaten in the region.
McCracken poured in 27 points to lead an impressive offensive showing. Summa scored 15 and Clark added 12, joining the UNCW commit in double figures. Riley delivered a brilliant outing for Beaufort, leading his squad with 20 points. Holmes put up 15, and Daniel Phares contributed nine.
Beaufort (3-1, 1-1) hosts Colleton County on Friday.
Hilton Head (4-2, 2-0) travels to May River on Tuesday.
Written by Wes Kerr / Photos by Brooke Simons