Hilton Head Christian Academy boys basketball saw its playoff hopes come up just short at home Tuesday, falling to Bethesda Academy 50-44 as the Blazers clinched the fourth and final postseason spot from SCISA Region 4-2A.
The visitors grabbed the early advantage with their active hands on defense, forcing numerous turnovers to build a 9-4 lead thanks to seven early points from Joshua Quarterman. Hilton Head Christian Academy turned to forward Isaiah Anderson for an offensive spark, and the sophomore delivered with a pair of layups to cut the lead to one.
Quarterman swiped away another loose ball and set up an underneath layup before Jayden Newton stormed for the hoop for a three-point play to build the lead to four. But the trusty Eagle forward answered right back, as Jace Blackshear found Anderson to end the opening quarter with a 14-12 deficit.
Both teams went cold to start the second period, but Hilton Head Christian displayed its solid effort on the offensive glass to hang with the Blazers. Anderson scored on a putback before another rebound set up a Riley Shinn layup, and Blackshear sank a pair of free throws to give his team a two-point lead. But every time the Blazers had an answer, as Caleb Dillon finished strong at the hoop for a three-point play before Israel Wright took a steal in for a layup in the half’s final seconds to grab a 28-24 advantage at the break.
The Eagles started out the third quarter with some energy, as a Shinn putback and Blackshear triple brought the Bethesda lead back to just one before Qayden Turner sank a pair at the line to go up 31-30. But the three-ball helped the Blazers quickly surge back in front, as two triples from Newton and another from Quarterman gave the visitors a 9-0 run and the largest lead of the game at eight points.
Blackshear promptly answered with a putback and turned it into a three-point play, but a Jacari McKay layup put the Bethesda lead at seven heading into the fourth. The Eagles had solid looks from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t find their stroke as Bethesda closed out well from the perimeter and denied Anderson easy looks inside.
Hilton Head Christian cut the lead down to five with under four minutes to play, but the Blazers executed well down the stretch to seal their playoff berth and eliminate their region rivals.
Anderson led the Eagles in his season finale with a game-high 17 points, and Shinn scored 11. Newton was unstoppable from beyond the arc in the second half, hitting three triples for 14 points.
Hilton Head Christian (9-14, 4-6) has concluded its first season under coach Jason Grunkemeyer.
By Wes Kerr
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