Beaufort High’s postseason prospects technically weren’t on the line Wednesday against visiting May River, but the Eagles viewed the regular-season finale as the start of their must-win run toward a potential playoff spot.
James Dennison put together a monster game to lead a balanced effort, as the Eagles showed they might be peaking at the right time with a 57-45 home win over a Sharks team that hammered them by 26 on Jan. 19.
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Dennison was the difference-maker with 14 points. 13 rebounds, and four steals, but he had plenty of support. Ollie Holmes added 11 points, seven boards, and four assists, while Rush Riley scored seven of his 10 in the fourth quarter and pulled down seven boards, and Daniel Phares and Zyrin Odom contributed eight points each.
Beaufort wasn’t at full strength for the first meeting, and the Eagles were determined to prove they can compete with the region’s top tier of teams. After a late rally came up just short in a 55-52 loss to region champion Hilton Head High on Friday — albeit with Seahawks star Will McCracken sidelined for most of the second half — Beaufort again flexed its depth after halftime Wednesday, turning a one-point May River lead at halftime into a nine-point advantage heading to the fourth.
James Layman tried to lead the Sharks back in the fourth, scoring eight of his game-high 17 points to fuel an 18-point quarter, but the Eagles had an answer every time, and it often came from Riley or Dennison, who each scored seven in the fourth to help close it out. Garvin Douglas added eight, and Brady Harrell had seven for the Sharks.
The Eagles (7-4, 5-4) are the No. 4 seed in the Region 7-4A tournament and will host Bluffton in Friday’s first round. If they advance, they will travel to Hilton Head High for another shot at the Seahawks in Monday’s semifinals, needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Sharks (5-5, 4-2) will host Colleton County in the first round and likely face James Island at a neutral site in the semifinals if they can get past the Cougars.