It was almost as if two games took place Friday night on Kirkland Court — With McCracken and Without McCracken.
Hilton Head High’s Will McCracken poured in 25 points before leaving the game midway through the third quarter, and the Seahawks held off a furious rally from Beaufort High for a 55-52 victory to remain undefeated in Region 7-4A play.
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McCracken wasted no time getting started, grabbing the opening tip and racing to the rim for a layup just four seconds in. He had 11 in the first quarter, but the Eagles matched the Seahawks’ intensity and opened up a 16-14 lead after a breakneck first period.
But the Seahawks kept coming in waves, and McCracken was a tsunami, darting through traffic to find open shots and doing damage in transition. He had 20 at halftime and added five more quick points early in the third to give Hilton Head High a comfortable cushion.
Then the future UNCW Seahawk skied for a loose ball and was undercut by his defender, crashing to the floor on his back and banging his head. McCracken rubbed the back of his head and made his way to the bench, where he stayed the rest of the night as a precaution.
The Seahawk star’s absense, coupled with the fact HHIHS was without dynamic forward Jaylen Sneed, gave the Eagles an opening, and they took advantage.
Ollie Holmes stayed hot from 3-point range all night, finishing with 14 points, and Daniel Phares added 12 for the Eagles, but it was Rush Riley who nearly led them all the way back, scoring all nine of his points in the second half, including seven in the fourth quarter.
Beaufort got within four on the last of Holmes’ three triples, but the Eagles couldn’t get the stops they needed down the stretch, even without McCracken on the floor.
Sam Summa and Adam Clark each added eight points for HHIHS, while Na’keydrick Black scored six and Karyce Campbell scored four big points in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks (10-2, 8-0) will try to wrap up the region title and a playoff berth at James Island on Wednesday.
The Eagles (6-4, 4-4) wrap up the regular-season at home against May River on Wednesday.
Story and photos by Justin Jarrett