Trailing at halftime to their island rivals, Hilton Head Prep was searching for that offensive spark to lead them back. They found it, once again, from their breakout sophomore star.
Kane Eanes erupted for a career-high 26 points Tuesday, and JJ Hayes added a double-double as the Dolphins rode a monster second-half run to defeat Hilton Head Christian Academy 52-35 at the Island Rec Center and complete the three-game season sweep.
“We had a slow start last week, but these past three games we’ve really come together as a team and pushed through,” Eanes said.
The points were hard to come by to start the contest, but HHP’s stars stepped up late to give the visitors the lead. JJ Hayes opened the scoring with a strong finish at the rim, Jayden Chance converted his sensational defense into offense with a layup off a steal, and the reliable Eanes drained a three to end the period and give his squad the early 7-5 lead.
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But the home Eagles responded right away in the second, as freshman big Isaiah Anderson cleaned up a rebound before JP Peduzzi drained a three on an Andrew Helms feed to snatch away the lead. Chance stole another to set up a Hayes bucket, and the stellar point guard kicked it out to Eanes for his second triple of the night.
Anderson proved he could do more than just finish in close with a flawless deep jumper, and Hayes came right back for a layup to put his Dolphins on top 16-15. But Peduzzi had other plans. The senior was simply in the zone, draining his third three of the period to take the lead back. Anderson capped off a late 6-0 Eagle run, finishing past a tough Dolphin interior defense to go up five at the halfway stage.
Hilton Head Prep was on a mission coming out of the half, and Eanes put the team on his back. Starting with a deep 3-pointer to open the scoring, the sophomore rattled off 12 of his squad’s 23 third-quarter points, as the Dolphins surged past HHCA with terrific ball movement, stellar shooting, and ferocious defense to grab control of the contest. Kane had the Eagles’ number all quarter long, nailing his signature corner threes and finishing powerful drives to the hoop.
Chance continued his tremendous defensive intensity and pinpoint passing, setting up numerous opportunities on the other end. The senior snatched one from Jace Blackshear and stormed the other way for a layup before hitting a pair of free throws to cap a 12-0 run and take a nine-point lead. Peduzzi gave the Eagles life with a 3-pointer, but Eanes rattled off four more points powered by another Chance steal as HHP head coach Jerry Faulkner pumped his fist to end a dominant third quarter.
“We came out hot and we were ready to go,” Eanes said. “I was just trying to attack the paint as hard as I could and use my body and finish at the rim.”
HHCA cut the lead back to seven midway through the fourth quarter, but an Eanes floater over Anderson and a Ryan Mikell trey put the finishing touches on a Dolphin three-game sweep over the Eagles.
Eanes’ 26 points and four threes propelled Hilton Head Prep to their 15th win of the season. Hayes conjured up another big-time performance, dominating on the glass with 10 boards while adding 14 points. Jayden Chance decimated the Eagles on both sides of the ball, racking up six steals while dishing out 10 assists.
JP Peduzzi continued his late-season surge for HHCA, leading the way with 16 points.
Hilton Head Prep (15-4) wraps up the regular season at John Paul II on Wednesday.
Hilton Head Christian (6-12, 3-8) will await their SCISA 2A tournament fate.
By Wes Kerr / Photos by Brooke Simons