Chane Brown’s message to his team on Friday night was simple: Win with defense. With its standout intensity and hustle, Hilton Head High boys basketball locked down The Firm and handed Beaufort High its first Region 7-4A defeat.
Karyce Campbell and Jo’Corey Walters scored 14 points each, and the Seahawks pulled away with a dominant fourth quarter to soar past the visiting Eagles 57-44 and notch their fourth straight victory.
“We played great defense,” Alex Smith said. “We need to work a bit on our offense, but otherwise our defense was good. We locked in on D, got some steals, and Matthew Larkby helped us a lot with rebounding.”
Hilton Head’s dynamic playmakers attacked a menacing Beaufort High defense early and often, as Zac Morris opened the scoring with a layup before nailing a corner 3 on a Smith feed to take a 5-3 lead. The Eagles may have had the size advantage on the court, but the Seahawks took command with their hustle, pressuring Beaufort’s ball-handlers and forcing mistakes to give them chances in transition.
James Dennison battled inside for a tough bucket to tie the game, but Walters answered on a feed from Morris before Karyce Campbell made a pair of shots at the line to go up 11-7. The Firm went to work in the second period, as Beaufort relied on its strong rebounding to earn second chances close to the hoop with eight quick points from Michael Dennison. The Eagles led by as many as four in the second period, but Hilton Head scored on three of its final four possessions of the half punctuated by a Jeremiah Stevens steal and layup to grab a 23-20 edge at the break.
Karyce Campbell showcased his high-energy play and scoring ability after halftime, answering a Zyrin Odom triple with a crafty 3-point play in the paint before adding a layup from a dazzling Morris pass. With Beaufort point guard Anderson Jones picking up his fourth foul early in the second half and Jake Alvarez already with three, the Eagles struggled to find their offensive rhythm as Hilton Head High’s defenders packed the paint and cleaned up on the glass.
A frustrated Beaufort High squad saw its tempers flare as the third period neared its end, and Odom was disqualified after a pair of technical fouls. Despite losing their big man, the Eagles turned their fuel into a rapid rally on the court, trimming the lead to just one point behind layups from Alvarez and McLeod Reichel.
But Walters and the Seahawks had other plans. Powered by their unrelenting defensive pressure, the Seahawks stymied Beaufort over the final minutes, rattling off 10 unanswered points. Larkby finished off a layup from a majestic half-court pass from Walters, and a Smith steal set up a thunderous Campbell dunk to bring the house down and put the Seahawks up by 10.
There was no stopping Walters down the stretch, scoring an incredible 12 points in the fourth quarter to put the game away and give Beaufort High its first Region 7-4A defeat.
Walters and Campbell led a memorable night for Hilton Head High, scoring 14 points apiece. Larkby impressed with his tough defense and excellence on the boards alongside his eight points, and Morris added eight including five in the opening quarter.
Alvarez scored 10 points to lead the Eagles, and Michael Dennison added nine. The Seahawk defense was outstanding against James Dennison and Odom, holding the seniors to just eight points each.
Hilton Head High (12-8, 7-3) has won four straight and will close out its home schedule on Thursday against James Island. Beaufort High (11-5, 8-1) still controls its own destiny in the Region 7-4A title race and will look to rebound at home Tuesday in a matchup with Colleton County.
By Wes Kerr
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