In just his second year as head coach at Hilton Head High, Chane Brown has turned his Seahawks into a true state title contender. Hilton Head passed their toughest test yet Tuesday night, locking in on defense and hitting the important free throws to defeat Region 7-4A favorite James Island 55-51 at the Nest and take full command of the region.
“I think the best part is that we’re all confident,” senior Will McCracken said. “Adam (Clark) came out with confidence, shot his shots and made them. Sam (Summa) is one of the biggest guys on the court, and he just keeps his confidence up, goes up for every rebound, plays hard. Jaylen’s driving ability and his opportunity to rebound just helps us immensely.”
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It was a back-and-forth affair from the start. Bailey Wiseman got things rolling with a three-pointer for James Island, but the Seahawks quickly delivered some fireworks on the other end. McCracken ignited the offense, scoring eight points punctuated by a nasty putback slam to put his team up four, but an impressive buzzer beating layup by speedy guard Jaden Scott cut the lead to 13-11 after one period.
The momentum looked to be shifting to the visitors’ side, but a technical foul resulted in free throws for McCracken and Sam Summa to build the Hawks’ advantage. The home team ran with their newfound mojo and translated it to the defensive side, denying easy looks at the rim and forcing missed outside shots. The Seahawks were threatening to run away with a 12-point lead after a huge three from sharpshooter Adam Clark, but center Matthew Ogiba found a late first-half spark for the Trojans. The sophomore rattled off six straight points to cut the lead in half, finding success in the paint and hitting a pair at the line to keep his squad afloat. After another James Island free throw, McCracken responded late with a difficult jumper to give the hosts a seven-point lead at the break.
The Seahawks knew that James Island would be coming out on a mission in the third quarter, and the visitors did just what they wanted. They moved the ball extremely well, giving themselves favorable looks at the rim. Greg Harrison took advantage, scoring six points in the frame as the Trojans continued their newfound success in the paint. Then Wiseman got hot from outside and drained a trio of triples, the last one giving the Trojans a one point lead to cap off a 13-5 run. But a McCracken three-point play followed by successful trips to the line from Summa and Alex Smith kept the Seahawks right there.
The drama heightened as the fourth quarter began tied at 39. Both squads traded buckets early on, but it was the Seahawks who found the all-important late-game run. McCracken got it started with a powerful drive to the hoop, and Summa sunk a pair of foul shots before using his elite athleticism to tip the ball in, growing the lead to six. Hilton Head was dominant on the defensive side in the final minutes, displaying terrific effort and forcing difficult layups and jumpers.
The Trojans did not quit. A Scott layup cut the advantage to just three with 1:38 left. But Hilton Head took care of business to close it out. Brown’s squad drained the clock, knocked down five of six free throws, and played disciplined defense to shut the door on a Trojan rally. James Island hit a pair of late jumpers to cut it to two with just seconds left, but Clark nailed both foul shots to put it on ice.
“We knew they were going to be good in transition, so our big thing was to get back and stop them,” McCracken said. “Coach told us to just keep playing hard. We didn’t need to rush the ball on offense, we could just be patient, but we needed to get stops on the defensive end and we did that.”
McCracken was the man in charge for the Seahawks, finishing the night with 17 points. Sam Summa was right behind with 13, and Adam Clark put up a big eight, including a pair of key three-pointers.
Hilton Head (6-2, 4-0) is scheduled to host Lucy Beckham on Friday.
Written by Wes Kerr / Photos by Brooke Simons