Orangeburg-Wilkinson and Hilton Head Island are polar opposites in the Region 8-AAA standings.
Yet each shared a similar goal entering Friday’s match-up in the Bruins’ Den — survival.
The Bruins were coming off two straight road losses and looking to hold off Stall for first place in the region standings. The Seahawks looked to steal a much-needed road victory to bolster their playoff chances.
Boosted by a game-high 21 points from preseason All-S.C. Basketball Coaches Association Top Five Selection Tashombe Riley and 10 each from Tauree Curry and John Charley, O-W built an early double-digit lead and held off Hilton Head 67-58 to snap its two-game skid.
“It was all about stopping the bleeding,” Bruins head coach Tracey Gamble said. “It was all about doing and executing how we’re supposed to, our assignments and not about the other team tonight. It was good to see us come out with some intensity and start well tonight, and we answered a few runs that they tried to make. So that felt good to see that.”
Hilton Head was led by Aaron Frazier and Michael Julian with 16 points each, and Jacob Coltrane with 14. The Seahawks had an early lead before the Bruins stormed back to take a 14-5 advantage in the first quarter. The Seahawks fought back to close the deficit to 16-11 at the end of the first quarter only to be outscored 19-8 in the second quarter to fall behind 35-24 at halftime.
The Bruins’ speed, size advantage and aggressive rebounding enabled them to stretch their lead to 16 points entering the fourth quarter. Hilton Head got within seven points with 5:28 remaining, but consecutive lay-ups by Germaine Johnson pushed O-W’s lead back to double digits at 60-49.
“We had a couple of goals,” Hilton Head head coach Ken Updike said. “On top of the list was don’t give up second chances. We just gave up too many second chances. You give them 4-5 chances a possession, they’re bound to score.
“We scored 58. For us, it’s rare for us to score 58 and lose. So you give up 67, you’re not doing something correct and, for me, it’s not boxing out.”
Hilton Head (11-11, 3-5) got no closer than seven in the final seconds and now needs to win its final two home games to earn a post-season berth.
O-W (13-10, 6-2) plays its regular-season home finale Tuesday against Berkeley before closing out the season against James Island in a contest that could determine the Region 8-AAA title.
“It’s going to take taking it one game at a time,” Gamble said. “We have a team goal of being region champions. Everybody is on the same page. We’re going to take it one game at a time and we realize if we take care of our business, we can win this championship. But it has to be one game at a time.”
Germaine Johnson 7, Tauree Curry 10, John Charley 10, Jordan Lewis 6, Tashombe Riley 21, Messiah Rice 9, Tyler Davis 2, Lorenzo Riley 2
HILTON HEAD ISLAND (58)
Jacob Coltrane 14, Aaron Frazier 16, Matt Pollard 1, Michael Julian 16, James Sanders 9, Craig Ryan 2