Silas Holmes and the Colleton County Cougars gave it their all, but Cinderella had no match for a flaming-hot Seahawk squad Monday night.
Will McCracken put up 14 points in a balanced team effort Monday, and Hilton Head High mixed together unstoppable offense with suffocating defense to cruise past the Cougars 79-35 and into the Region 7-4A championship game.
“I think that every game we want to play to our standard,” senior Sam Summa said. “That’s regardless of who we play. Every game, we want to come out and play extremely hard, get every rebound, run in transition, and I think we did a great job of that tonight.”
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The Seahawks didn’t waste any time at the Nest, as perimeter marksman Adam Clark and the incredible McCracken banged home a pair of threes to propel HHIHS on an early 7-2 run. Colleton County hung with the regular-season champs in the first quarter, sparked by an electric Holmes and Brian Hamilton, but Summa struck back with a tremendous three-point play. The senior and newly-minted UCLA football commit converted in the paint with defenders swarming on all sides, drawing a foul in the process and sinking a free throw to put the Seahawks up eight.
Holmes cut it to six with a pair of free throws before Karyce Campbell delivered a fantastic defensive play, poking away the rock and finishing the easy layup to make it an 18-10 HHIHS lead after one.
Campbell’s strong play sparked something for the Seahawk defense, as Chane Brown’s squad delivered a lockdown effort in the second quarter, holding the Cougars to just a single layup. It started with a bang, as junior Jaylen Sneed stole the ball away and flushed in a monster two-handed jam. The entire unit fed off of Sneed’s energy, shutting down a high-powered Colleton County attack that took out May River on Friday night.
Hilton Head shot down any easy looks in the paint and forced numerous turnovers that led to their dangerous transition offense. Sneed kept the stellar night going with a floater in the paint before Summa tossed in a putback and sliced to the rim for a layup to finish off a masterpiece of a quarter with a 30-12 lead.
“We love getting after it,” Summa said. “When those guys are getting steals and getting dunks, it elevates our play even more, and when Jaylen can get down the floor and dunk it, it’s a lot more fun to play.”
The ‘Hawks didn’t let the Cougars get any closer, as an Alex Smith toss to a McCracken corner three-ball followed by a Sneed putback ballooned the lead to 23 and capped off a dominant 15-0 run. Holmes looked to ignite the Colleton offense with a sweet layup, but Smith found Clark again for another downtown dime and the senior sharpshooter delivered again.
Alex continued his spectacular play on both ends, taking a give-and-go to the hoop before draining a triple of his own. Then the bench joined in and made an instant impact. Na’keydrick Black dropped in a layup and scored again on a strong take to the rim, and Campbell sank the team’s third triple of the quarter to shut the lights on Colleton’s upset bid. Holmes and the Cougars kept battling to the end, but they couldn’t find an answer for a loaded Hilton Head squad.
Clark put together another spectacular night with 12 points for the ‘Hawks, and Jayden Gilliam Singleton scored 10 fourth-quarter points. Summa was next with eight in a remarkable display across the board, as 12 Seahawks found the score sheet.
Holmes and Antawn Griffin were magnificent in their final games at Colleton County, leading all scorers with 15 points each. The Cougars ended a tremendous run after coming off an extended pause and dealing with the tragic loss of former teammate Alex Sherrill.
“For them to come back and rally around that and use it as a strength-point inside their own team is awesome to see,” Summa said. “They came out in their warmups wearing his number. For those guys, it’s something that they’ll continue to build strength off of and use that as a building block for the rest of their lives.”
Winners of 10 straight, the Seahawks (12-2) will look to wrap up the region title and its No. 1 playoff seed in the Region 7-4A championship game on Thursday night against James Island. Hilton Head got the better of the Trojans twice, but taking them down for the third straight time with so much on the line will be far from easy.
“Beating a team twice is very difficult, but beating a team three times is even harder,” Summa said. “We’re gonna have to gameplan for them and get an idea of what they’re gonna do on offense and defense, and counter that as best as possible. I have complete confidence in our team that we can go in and compete against any team in the entire state, so we’ll gameplan and hopefully come out with a win.”
By Wes Kerr