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Change came after a lackluster effort in December.
The Ridgeland-Hardeeville boys basketball team fell flat in the Bobcat Classic against Battery Creek, selfish play sinking the Jaguars' chances. A New Year's Eve practice helped correct the issues. The Jaguars worked on sharing the ball, filling the passing lanes and playing together.
The early results are promising. Ridgeland-Hardeeville used crisp passing and easy baskets Saturday to help defeat Beaufort High School, 54-51, on the Eagles' Kirkland Court.
"If we play as a team, we can beat anybody," said Jaguars forward Terrance Frazier, who led Ridgeland-Hardeeville with 14 points.
Beaufort High (9-3) lost for the second consecutive night, but Eagles coach Bruce Beasley was less concerned with Saturday's effort. He thought the Eagles played hard, doomed by missed free throws and not converting layups underneath.
Many of the issues can be solved with the return of standout Kendrick Colvin, who missed a fifth game while out of state visiting family.
"He's an integral part," Beasley said. "He's so well-rounded."
Beaufort High trailed by as many as eight during the final quarter but held Ridgeland-Hardeeville without a field goal the final six minutes to have a chance to win. The Eagles drew up a play during a timeout with 2.9 seconds left and a chance to tie but turned the ball over on the inbounds pass.
Jaguars coach Jeremiah Faber had called that final timeout. He wanted the correct personnel on the floor, and for the Jaguars to know it was fine to allow a basket inside. No 3-pointers, he said.
Faber and Beasley have a long history with each other. Beasley, who started as a head coach at Ridgeland High School, said he expects Faber's teams to play hard. Faber knew the Eagles would be patient on offense, that the Jaguars would see a 2-3 matchup zone and a trap if the Eagles fell behind.
The Jaguars clicked, penetrating the lane to dump off to open teammates or earning trips to the free throw line.
"We worked on sacrificing for each other," said Faber, whose team improved to 4-6. "... We wanted to adopt that mindset that the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few."
Ridgeland-Hardeeville boys 54, Beaufort High 51
Ridgeland-Hardeeville (4-6)-- Terrance Frazier 14, Charles Mitchell 9, Davontae Waites 8, Derrell Myers 6, Anthony Polite 5, Fredarico Bolden 5, Richard Garvin 4.
Beaufort High-- Otis McClain 12, Keion Marshall 9, Jawan Mack 8, Carlton Johnson 8, Thomas Parker 7, Anthony White 4, Adonis Grant 3.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville girls 57, Beaufort High 32
The Jaguars' bus arrived late Saturday, leaving Ridgeland-Hardeeville no time to warm up.
The resulting slow start, then, might not have been a surprise to Jaguars coach Frederick Toomer. But he told his girls at halftime to turn up the intensity, to play with an aggressiveness not always present during the first half. Ridgeland-Hardeeville came out for the third quarter in its man pressure, creating turnovers and easy baskets and blowing open what was a four-point game at halftime.
After a 2-1 start to Region 6-AA, Saturday offered a reprieve.
"This was an opportunity to work on a few things without the pressure of having to get a region win," Toomer said.
Forward Aaliyah Hill led the Jaguars with 18 points, scoring inside and out. The senior and former Hardeeville standout brings that multi-dimensional scoring threat to the Jaguars, while Toomer tries to develop her defense.
Defense has always been his key, and Ridgeland-Hardeeville used its aggressiveness to outscore the Eagles 21-5 during the third quarter. Beaufort High coach Lillian Keeler Aldred said the Eagles had not seen the man pressure during an earlier game at Ridgeland-Hardeeville. The Jaguars' zone trap had worked well enough then to open a large margin early. But Aldred said seeing the different look Saturday should help prepare the Eagles as they open the Region 8-AAAA schedule Tuesday at Fort Dorchester.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville (6-4)-- Aaliyah Hill 18, Jamie Chisolm 10, Alima Upchurch 10, Ny'Jae Boozer 10, Ravon Grant 4, Denesha Page 2, Sapatra Johnson 2.
Beaufort High (1-11)-- Jordan Fields 17, Mattie Hibbs 6, Amber Britton 4, Jasmine Wallace 2, Cameron Simmons 2, Jaia Johnson 1.