Swamp Fox boys hold off feisty Bobcats
At the time he sank it Romelo Doctor’s haphazard buzzard beater from well beyond the three-point arc seemed inconsequential, but it turned out to be significant.
Doctor posted a game-high 22 points Tuesday to lead the Ashley Ridge boys to a 63-56 win over Bluffton in the teams’ first meeting on the hardwood.
The Swamp Foxes hit seven three-point shots in the first two periods to take a healthy lead in the Region 8-AAAA opener for both teams. Doctor hit four while Tray Jenkins, D.J. Stevens and Fred Weeks also sank the ball from behind the arc. The most exciting of the seven was Doctor’s last, which came at the conclusion of the second period.
Ashley Ridge took a 14-point lead on a Vernon Moree basket and then regained possession. Doctor took the point in hopes of setting up one last shot before the half.
Bluffton didn’t yield an opening so in the closing seconds Doctor drove to the key and pulled up to shoot but a Bluffton player knocked the ball out of his hands. Doctor chased down the loose ball and slung a shot toward the goal, which went in for a 36-19 Swamp Fox lead at the half.
Doctor opened the third period with another 3 and Ashley Ridge was looking to cruise to victory. But with their backs against the wall, the Bobcats became feisty.
Bluffton outscored Ashley Ridge 12-7 in the third and posted 25 points in the fourth to cut the lead down to three points with 38 seconds remaining.
Fortunately for Ashley Ridge, Stevens and Mikey Goodwine both hit a pair of free throws in the final 30 seconds and a late Bluffton 3 bounced off the rim so the rally fell short.
“Bluffton got scrappy and really got after us and we didn’t handle it that well for a while,” Ashley Ridge coach Brian Welch said. “I had to burn some timeouts and talk to our guys. I had all seniors on the floor and they finally started acting like seniors and pulled it out. But I think that is indicative to our region; every night typically is just a war. It looks like we are going to see a lot of games like this in our league in January and February.”
After Doctor sank his long-distance shot to open the third, the Bobcats held the guard to a mere two points the rest of the half. However, Stevens stepped up in the fourth to finish the game with 12 points while Weeks and Moree both finished with 7.
B.J. Hill led Bluffton with 16 points. Demetrius Smalls, who hit a pair of 3s, added 12 for the Bobcats while Marquis Webber added 10.
Ashley Ridge improved to 10-4 on the season with the victory but the Swamp Foxes face stiff competition in the next few weeks. The Swamp Foxes travel to Fort Dorchester Jan. 11 and to Beaufort Jan. 15 before returning home for another key region game against Summerville Jan. 18.
Welch is hoping Tuesday’s region win paired with a victory on the road last week against Wando will give his team to momentum it will need for the tough stretch.
“We need to do a good job of being us and I think we did that in the first half tonight,” Welch said. “We played Ashley Ridge defense and I like the way we moved the basketball the first two periods. Our second half wasn’t what it should’ve been but our seniors stepped up and won the game. Teams are going to make runs but you have to handle that well so a 4-0 run doesn’t turn into a 6-0 run that can then turn into an even bigger run.”