After being frustrated by Hilton Head Prep’s defensive intensity for a half, Beaufort Academy girls basketball rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit and Mike’Ala Washington converted an and-1 with 2.3 seconds left to lift the Eagles to a thrilling 43-41 home win over the Dolphins in a key SCISA Region 4 matchup.
The Dolphins were in command at the half, forcing turnovers and allowing few open looks as they limited the Eagles to two points in the second quarter and went up 27-15 at the break when Haylee Hopman got free for a layup on an inbounds play with two seconds left in the half.
But it was a completely different story in the second half, as the Eagles made key adjustments at the break and began finding paths to the basket. Tahleea Heyward made brilliant cuts to the basket for two big buckets and Washington scored seven points in the third to help close the gap to eight going to the fourth, and BA picked up the intensity in the final eight minutes.
Washington scored her first points of the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws to give BA its first lead at 40-39, but Katie Campbell drew a foul at the other end and knocked down both shots to put HHP back in front with less than 30 seconds remaining.
BA coach Andrew Ienuso called timeout before the pivotal possession and drew up a play, telling Washington to take it upon herself if things broke down. They did, and the BA star found herself isolated at the top of the key and drove to her right, getting to the block and drawing a foul while putting in a strong finish and converting the three-point play.
The Dolphins got off a desperate shot at the buzzer, but it was well off the mark and the Eagles escaped with an impressive comeback win.
“What I love about this team is they never quit,” Ienuso said. “When they get down, they just keep going.”
Washington scored 17 points to lead BA, while Heyward added 12 and Kamirah Freeman had eight. Katie Campbell scored 12 points and Ella Clark added 10 to lead HHP, which let another opportunity to knock off a quality team slip away down the stretch.
“Our team is plagued with turnovers and has struggled to close games all season,” HHP coach Phillip Hartman said. “Some of that is on the players, and a lot of that is on me. Coach needs to do a better job.”
BA (11-4, 2-1) plays at John Paul II in a key region battle Tuesday. HHP (6-5, 0-2) hosts Colleton Prep for another region matchup Wednesday.
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