The Bluffton Bobcats breezed through the Region 7-4A girls basketball slate despite an uneven schedule, but coach Lonnie Roberts’ talented young team still has work to do to secure the top seed in the Class 4A playoffs, and six other teams are ready to take their shot in the region tournament starting Friday.
For the first time, the region will use a tournament format to determine its playoff representatives, a result of a rash of postponements and cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic that left teams playing unbalanced schedules.
Rather than allow a tiebreaker to determine who plays on and who stays home in this season’s condensed playoff format, the Region 7-4A athletics directors elected to institute a region tournament and award the top seed to the tourney champion. The regular-season champion Bobcats secured a guaranteed playoff berth, but they’ll have to run the gauntlet again to make sure they’re on the No. 1 line. If Bluffton does capture the tourney title, the runner-up will earn the No. 2 seed from the region.
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SCHSL REGION 7-4A TOURNAMENT GIRLS First Round | Friday, Feb. 12 Game1: No. 5 James Island at No. 4 Hilton Head High, 6 p.m. Game 2: No. 7 Lucy Beckham at No. 2 May River, 6 p.m. Game 3: No. 6 Colleton County at No. 3 Beaufort High, 6 p.m. Semifinals | Monday, Feb. 15 Game 4: G1 winner at Bluffton Game 5: G2 winner vs. G3 winner (higher seed hosts) Finals | Thursday, Feb. 18 Game 6: G4 winner vs. G5 winner (higher seed hosts)
The top-seeded Bobcats get to take the night off Friday while the rest of the region clashes in do-or-die matchups, a well-earned break after going undefeated in region play. The dynamic freshman guard tandem of Tacoya Heyward and Katie Rodney leads a deep, defensive-minded Bluffton team that is riding a seven-game winning streak dating to a 55-54 loss at First Baptist on Dec. 22. Heyward (12 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 4.6 spg) and Rodney join seniors Samari Mitchell and Kayleigh Washington in averaging at least 7.4 points per game, and seniors Cassandra Gray and Jalynn Ferguson aren’t far behind.
Bluffton will await the winner of Friday’s matchup between No. 5 James Island and No. 4 Hilton Head High. The Seahawks escaped with a 37-35 win over the Trojans on Lynda Young’s game-winner with four seconds left Wednesday, so the rematch should be entertaining, and Hilton Head High gave Bluffton its closest call in region play in a 43-41 game on Dec. 18.
On the other side of the bracket, red-hot May River is the No. 2 seed and will host Lucy Beckham. The Sharks have won six of their last seven games behind consistently great defense and the emergence of freshman Morgan Scott as a bonafide problem in the post, and they easily handled the Bengals 60-33 on Monday.
The Sharks are likely to encounter a rematch with No. 3 seed Beaufort High in the semifinals after earning a hard-fought 38-34 win over the Eagles on Wednesday to secure the No. 2 seed. Layla Warren and the Eagles will look to earn that rematch when they host Colleton County on Friday. The Cougars have not played since Jan. 22 and lost 55-35 to the Eagles on Jan. 15.
The higher seed will host the semifinal and final contests, and the champion will take home a massive prize — the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and home-court advantage until the Lower State finals — so the competition should be fierce in a fairly balanced region.
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Written by Justin Jarrett