HSBBB: Junkyard Dog mentality helps Eagles pull off first-round upset

No matter the sport, Hilton Head Christian Academy’s Junkyard Dog mentality never fails to show up in the playoffs. On Saturday in Sumter, it carried the Eagles to a massive postseason victory on the basketball court. 

Sophomore Andrew Helms scored a team-high 15 points, and senior JP Peduzzi delivered with 14 points to keep his HHCA hoops career going as the fourth-seeded Eagles held off Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach 48-47 to shock the No. 1 seed and advance to the SCISA 2A quarterfinals.

The Eagles fell behind in the opening quarter, as Seth Debruhl caught fire with 10 quick points to give the Saints a 14-11 lead. But Peduzzi found his stroke in the second, splashing one from downtown and sinking a pair of free throws to cut into the lead. A tremendous defensive effort limited the Saints to just seven points in the second period, as HHCA trimmed the lead to one heading into the half. 

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Travis Priddy’s squad kept battling in the third and claimed a 34-33 lead thanks to seven points from the quick and crafty Helms. Then the Eagles turned to their forwards in the fourth, as Peduzzi and freshman Isaiah Anderson feasted at the rim to build an eight-point advantage with three minutes left. 

But the Saints responded in a flash to get them right back in it, aided by a successful full-court press to force some Eagle mistakes. Senior Lawton Fulford wasn’t ready to call it quits, as the shooting guard caught fire with three straight triples to trim the lead to a single point with 40 seconds left. 

The Saints fouled Anderson with just a few ticks left, and the freshman misfired on the front end, giving the Eagles’ opponent an opportunity to steal the victory at the buzzer. Fisher Darden quickly brought it up the court before the ball found the hands of the red-hot Fulford. The senior let it fly from deep as the final seconds expired, but Peduzzi defended it perfectly, forcing an errant shot to hold off the Saints and advance to the quarterfinals.

Anderson tallied a strong 10 for the Eagles to complement Helms and Peduzzi. Debruhl led all scorers with 17 points, and Darden added 12. 

HHCA (11-12) faces familiar region foe Bethesda Academy in the quarterfinals. The Eagles played the Blazers tough in both meetings this season, dropping a pair of games decided by single digits. 

By Wes Kerr

Supporting sponsorship provided by Jimmy John’s

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