Dunk Island is one win away from a legendary state championship.
Hilton Head Island High’s senior duo of Will McCracken and Sam Summa combined for 30 points Monday, and the Seahawks vanquished Hartsville 55-42 in the SCHSL 4A Lower State final at James Island Charter High School to reach the program’s first-ever state title game.
“Being a part of this team is truly a blessing,” Summa said. “Playing with these guys is so much fun every day, so for us to have a shot at winning it all is truly a testament to Coach Brown and the guys as well as our hard work.”
It was a back-and-forth scrap early on. A turnover-plagued start from Hilton Head gave the Red Foxes a 6-4 lead, but the stellar McCracken-Summa duo scored four each in the opening frame to keep the squad within two.
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Then the Seahawks pounced in the second, putting up 17 in the frame behind six from McCracken and four from the explosive Jaylen Sneed. The offensive success and defensive intensity were all clicking as Hilton Head ended the half on a 13-5 run to take a seven-point lead into the break.
“The key to our execution was being disciplined to our defensive plan,” head coach Chane Brown said. “We had to know where Cesare Edwards was at all times. The team did a good job of making it as difficult as it could for him.”
It was the Sam Summa show in the third quarter, as the senior standout relied on his brilliant post moves to attack the basket and rack up eight points in the period, growing the lead to double digits. But Hartsville’s Edwards and Jamari Briggs kept the pressure on to remain in striking distance, down 10 going into the fourth.
“Going in, we knew they were a long, athletic team,” Summa said. “We just wanted to stay disciplined, knock down our shots, and take care of the ball.”
Then the Red Foxes caught fire, adding seven straight points in just 1:36 to trim the lead to three. Facing yet another moment of adversity, Brown’s crew dug deep and finished the job. Star players shine the brightest in the clutch, and Seahawk superstar McCracken delivered in the biggest moments, scoring six points down the stretch to help his team pull away.
“When Sam and Will get going, it’s something special,” Brown said. “I couldn’t ask for two better leaders. They are the coaches on the court that keep the other players on track, and they know when to turn it on.”
After knocking down a pair of monstrous threes in the first half, senior Adam Clark came through at the line, sinking all four of his shots at the stripe to send his Seahawks to the 4A state championship game.
With his season and Hilton Head career on the line, McCracken came through again, leading his squad with 16 points. Summa dominated in the paint and on the glass, racking up 14 points while contending with the Xavier signee Edwards, while Clark drained clutch shots from beyond the arc and at the line to put up an important 12. Edwards impressed for Hartsville, leading all scorers with 18 points.
After starting the year at 2-2, Brown and Hilton Head have rattled off an incredible 14 straight wins. The Dunk Island boys have written an incredible story in an unprecedented year, and they’ll look to pen a glorious final chapter on Saturday at USC Aiken against Upper State champion South Pointe.
After starring for the Seahawks back in the early 2000s, Brown has now accomplished something unforeseen, taking his alma mater to the precipice of a state championship.
“It means a lot to take my alma mater to the state championship game,” Brown said. “It’s something the school and community can be proud of, and most importantly the players will have this moment to remember for the rest of their lives.”
By Wes Kerr / Photos by Mary Beth Lyons