By CINDY CROSBY
The Colleton County Cougars defeated May River High School 57-53 on the road on Friday, February 12 in the opening round of the Region VII-AAAA Basketball Post-Season Tournament.
The Cougars were seeded in the No. 6 spot and May River was the No. 3 seed. With Friday’s win, the Colleton County Cougars advanced. They were scheduled to travel to No. 1 Hilton Head High School on Monday, February 15 for a 6 p.m. start in game two. That Monday game came after this newspaper’s print deadline.
Colleton County was coming off a nearly three-week quarantine (missing five games) and had managed less than a handful of practices, once lifted. They entered the conference tournament at 0-7 overall and 0-4 in Region VII-AAAA.
“We went straight into the region tournament,” said Coach Matthew Mullins. “We are doing this because everyone played an unbalanced schedule due to COVID-19. We are using the tournament to determine our two playoff teams instead of the normal four. Hilton Head High School garners one of the playoff spots as they captured the regular season. The second team in the playoffs will be whoever wins this this tournament or the runner-up if Hilton Head wins.”
Against May River, Deshaun Blocker scored 24 points. Other scoring included Silas Holmes 19, Brian Hamilton 13, Antawn Griffin 5, Dorian Gant 4, and Adam Buckner 2.
May River’s top scorers included Harrell 10, Blocker 8, Murray 8, Gadson 2, Bryant 2 and Buesa 1.
“This was our first game since three weeks ago, when we lost to May River at their place,” said Mullins. “We had to quarantine for two weeks then had one game canceled upon returning. So, getting ready to play May River after all that time off, I did not know what to expect. We had three days to get ready, and while the practices were good, you still don’t know what would happen after all that time off.”
“I thought we came out and improved our defensive rotations a lot – more from the first time we played them,” said Mullins. “We were able to keep their post player from getting the ball in spots where he could score and defended the three-point line a lot better this time around. Deshaun Blocker stepped up big for us making some key steals and lay-ins, while Brian and Silas hit some big 3’s in key moments. Without a doubt, the final plays of the game sealed our win with a steal from Blocker that led to a one-and-one finish by Silas to take the lead with 20 seconds left. Then, Antawn Griffin hitting a big free throw with four seconds left to seal it. By winning, we get to stay alive in the playoff hunt.”