Throughout the high school boys basketball season, we’ll recognize the standouts from the previous week’s action with the Lowco Boys Hoops Spotlight presented by Rogers Electric.
We select our Starting Five of the top players of the week, along with a few standouts we’re keeping “in the rotation,” as well as a Team of the Week, and highlight the biggest game of the upcoming week. Here’s this week’s installment of the Lowco Boys Hoops Spotlight presented by Rogers Electric.
LOWCO STARTING FIVE OF THE WEEK
Gavin Blocker, MRHS: It was a battle of the Blockers on Thursday, and May River’s Gavin came out on top for an enormous region win over Colleton County. After getting shut out in Tuesday’s loss at Beaufort High, the junior sniper was determined to bounce back, and he was dialed in from start to finish, scoring 20 points in the first half before adding eight more in the fourth to hold off a late charge from Deshaun Blocker and the Cougars to cap off a sensational 31-point night. Gavin still felt the sting of last year’s loss to Colleton County in the Region 7-4A tournament, and the Sharks rode his hot hand to fuel their offense in the road victory. With two more key matchups coming this week against Region 7-4A co-leader James Island and a hungry Bluffton team, Blocker’s offensive success and defensive intensity will be needed for the Sharks to stay in the top half of the standings.
Sully Gay, BA: The Eagles needed a reliable scorer to turn to this season after losing Elijah Fess and Ben VanHise, and they’ve found it in breakout sophomore Sully Gay. He came through again on Tuesday in a massive region win over John Paul II, posting 24 points while dishing out four assists to outduel Mark Knight and the Golden Warriors. Averaging 13.4 points per game alongside eight rebounds with two steals and two assists, Gay has been a sparkplug for Nick Field’s squad that is looking like the frontrunner to the SCISA 4-2A region title.
Brandon Howard, THA: After sitting out last basketball season, Howard has made a heck of a splash in his return to the court for his new team. The former Ridgeland-Hardeeville Jaguar has been a revelation for a Thomas Heyward squad that is looking primed for a spot in the postseason. Howard delivered the heroics in a huge victory over Hilton Head Christian Academy on Tuesday, draining a three-pointer as he was fouled to convert a go-ahead four-point play in the final quarter. It was a week to remember for the multi-sport phenom, who also announced his commitment to play football at Charleston Southern University live on the LowcoSports Lowdown. He’s had a legendary career in just two seasons at Thomas Heyward, and he may still have one more script left to write.
Mark Knight, JPII: He was the forgotten star early on in the season due to the Golden Warriors taking nearly a month off in December, but there’s been no stopping him since his return to the court. The electric senior was everywhere in a pair of hard-fought battles this past week, cementing Mac Tamminen’s squad as region contenders. Knight led the Golden Warriors to the cusp of a statement victory against Beaufort Academy with 20 points alongside six assists and six rebounds before nailing a go-ahead three in double overtime to pull out a thriller over Thomas Heyward with 24 points, six rebounds, and four steals. He’s nearly unstoppable with his slicing drives to the hoop and can consistently knock it down from the outside. With Knight at the helm for his last ride as a Golden Warrior, we could see a special season the rest of the way for Tamminen’s squad.
Zyrin Odom, BHS: It was another team effort from The Firm to survive a pair of Region 7-4A dogfights this week, but Odom went above and beyond. Zyrin was uncontainable at the rim against May River, racking up 21 points, 13 rebounds, and three steals on Tuesday. But his biggest showing of the week may have been on Saturday, as Odom helped the Eagles orchestrate a gritty 10-point comeback win at Bluffton with his hard work and hustle on the glass and on defense. You have to make a bunch of little plays in order to complete a big comeback, and Odom did it all, coming alive in the fourth quarter for eight of his 12 points to ignite a stagnant attack before showing his quick hands on defense to poke the ball free and find James Dennison for the go-ahead bucket. He’s a gifted athlete with the ability to take over the game on both ends, and his presence should be key to the Eagles’ chances in a big matchup with James Island on Friday.
In the rotation: Isaiah Anderson, HHCA; Deshaun Blocker, CCHS; James Dennison, BHS; Michael Dennison, BHS; Brian Hamilton, CCHS; James Layman, MRHS; Jaylin Linder, BLHS; Jackson Ogden, JPII; Wells Sharpe, HHCA; Amarion Wilson, BA
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Beaufort Academy Eagles (2-0 this week; 25-5, 4-1 overall)
The citrus-fueled Eagles continue to rack up the wins, sitting at a cool 25-5 mark after another perfect week. Nick Field’s squad was tested in a high-scoring duel with John Paul II, but the Eagles emerged thanks to Sully Gay’s hot shooting and a scrappy effort inside from freshman big man Amarion Wilson. BA went back-and-forth again on Thursday with a solid Thomas Heyward side before pulling away late in a balanced effort from the Eagle starters. The busy schedule early on in the year has paid dividends for Field and his team, who continue to find ways to win on a nightly basis with a young and hard-working group. Gay has become a reliable scorer who can put the offense on his back, and Wilson is playing well beyond his years as a terrific inside presence that dominates the glass and locks down on the defensive end. Braydon Dineen is an efficient and versatile playmaker, and a host of others have provided valuable minutes including dynamic guard Zeke Gonzalez and powerful 6-foot-2 center Gavin Midyette. If the Eagles can cut down on turnovers and feed off the play of their big men on both ends, Beaufort Academy should have the inside track on being the top SCISA 2A finisher in the “flex” region and a strong shot to make some noise in the postseason.
Honorable Mention: Beaufort High (2-0), Hilton Head Prep (1-0), John Paul II (1-1)
GAME OF THE WEEK
James Island at Beaufort High, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Maybe a pair of scrappy victories this week was just what the Eagles needed going into Friday’s massive showdown with fellow Region 7-4A frontrunner James Island. It was never easy for Jeremy Huff’s squad, even against a Bluffton squad that is winless in region play, but Beaufort showed its fight and proved that it could handle even the toughest adversity after navigating out of a 10-point hole at The Den. It’s clear that this team rests with their big three, and staying out of foul trouble will be a must for the Eagles to compete with the best teams in the region and beyond. When The Firm is at the top of its game, Beaufort High is as dangerous as any team in the Lower State with its loaded frontcourt of James Dennison, Michael Dennison, and Zyrin Odom, who each conjure up double-doubles seemingly every night. But an inability to hit shots and close out on the defensive side left the Eagles vulnerable on Saturday, and Huff will expect a lot more in practice this week heading into Friday’s tilt. James Island has been battle-tested with some strong early-season wins and is riding high after a pair of 20-point victories over Hilton Head High and Bluffton. If Beaufort’s bigs can continue to control the glass and provide the intensity that brought them back in Saturday’s final quarter, the Eagles will have a chance to cement their spot in the drivers’ seat of a fascinating Region 7-4A race.
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