Missed free throws, missed layups, and live-ball turnovers haven’t been the norm for Hilton Head High this year, but they all doomed the Seahawks on Thursday in a tough overtime loss. Jayden Gilliam drew a foul and drained a clutch free throw to force overtime with 0.5 seconds left, but the Seahawks were shut out in the extra period by visiting James Island to drop their final home contest 56-47.
Both teams traded the lead back and forth in the opening minutes, as the Seahawks sped to the rim with the athletic duo of Alex Smith and Jeremiah Stevens while James Island found its stroke from distance to match the home team’s breakneck scoring pace.
Hilton Head High used its speedy and athletic guards to slice through the Trojan defense while dazzling with its ball movement to create open looks from the outside. Karyce Campbell found Stevens for a wide open three, and Morris cut to the hoop to finish a Stevens feed before Nate Rohr converted a putback to put the Seahawks up 16-12.
Both teams struggled with turnovers early in the second quarter, and the Trojans took advantage and cashed in from the free throw line to tie the game. Then the Seahawks returned the favor, pressuring James Island’s ball-handlers and using their explosive transition game to mount a 13-3 run. But the visitors found some momentum by getting to the free-throw line as the half ticked down, making 5-of-6 shots down the stretch to trim the lead to five points at the break.
Hilton Head grabbed the momentum back when James Island’s Cameron Smith was given a technical foul, and the Seahawks rode their home crowd as Zac Morris and Jourdin Nelson-Davis scored back-to-back buckets to push the margin to seven. But a quick three from Braxton Scott fueled the visitors right back as the Seahawks missed a flurry of free throws and close-range shots.
With a comeback suddenly within reach, the Trojans locked in on defense and gave their rivals a taste of their own medicine, scoring off steals and defending well in the paint to grab the lead at 41-40 midway through the fourth quarter. Zac Morris put the ‘Hawks back in front with a hard-fought finish at the rim, but the Trojans’ ferocious defense down the stretch dropped the home team down four with two minutes to play.
Chane Brown’s crew refused to quit, stringing together a few stops and hitting a pair of foul shots to draw within two at 47-45. The Seahawks were desperate to get it back, and swarmed Cameron Smith to force a jump ball and regain possession. Matthew Larkby made one of two from the stripe to cut it to one, and Alex Smith’s quick hands came up huge to earn a shot to win it with four ticks left on the clock. The Seahawk point guard quickly scanned the court and found Gilliam at the free-throw line who took a dribble and heaved up a floater as the buzzer sounded.
The orange jerseys began to celebrate as the attempt grazed off the rim, but the officials signaled Gilliam to the free-throw line with a chance to tie or win the game. His first shot trickled in and out, but the second was true to send the game into overtime.
Despite the late Seahawk rally, it was all Trojans in the extra session, as a string of missed layups, free throws, and bad passes held the home squad off the scoreboard and gave James Island a well-earned road victory.
Morris paced Hilton Head High with 15 points, Smith tallied eight points, and both Campbell and Stevens added seven each.
Hilton Head High (12-9, 7-4) wrapped up the regular season Friday at Lucy Beckham. Check back to LowcoSports.com later for a full recap.
By Wes Kerr
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