Sometime in the final minute, when it became apparent that his Beaufort High girls basketball team was finally going to finish one off, first-year coach Dominique Cureton looked to the sky and walked to the far end of the Eagles’ bench, a beaming smile across his face.
That smile, and the ones on the Eagles’ faces in the aftermath of a 33-24 home win over second-place James Island on Friday, had been a long time coming. Beaufort played outstanding team defense and hit its free throws down the stretch to snap a seven-game losing streak and pick up its first region win — and its first victory since Dec. 10.
The Eagles had been knocking on the door, even pushing region frontrunner Bluffton to the brink last week, and they stuck to the same gameplan, packing the paint in a zone and forcing the Trojans to shoot them out of it. James Island struggled to do so, managing only nine points in the first half as Beaufort built a tenuous six-point lead.
The Eagles nudged the margin up to eight entering the fourth quarter and it was 23-14 midway through the fourth when James Island star Andrea Duncan heated up and made things interesting. Duncan drained a 3-pointer and added another quick bucket off a turnover to trim the deficit to four, then knocked down a pair of free throws to cut it to 23-21.
The script was too familiar for Cureton, who paced the sidelines looking for an answer. This time, the Eagles had one.
Topaz Williams-Fripp and Anaiya Houseal each hit one of two at the foul line to give Beaufort a bit of cushion, then Jakaylah Webb found a cutting Jayla Daise for a layup to put the Eagles up six. The Trojans cut it to three once more, but Quinn Wilson and Daise each went 4-for-5 from the foul line in the final period to help close it out.
Wilson and Daise each scored 10 points, and Riley Brozek added nine to lead the Eagles. Duncan finished with 16 for James Island.
Beaufort (1-5, 3-11) travels to Lucy Beckham for another region matchup Tuesday.
By Justin Jarrett
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