MURRELLS INLET — North Myrtle Beach took a major step toward its first region title in six years.
The Chiefs, courtesy of a 48-43 win over St. James Friday night, swept the season series between the two top teams in Region VII-AAA. Coach Frank Moorehead’s team is now 15-5 overall and 5-1 in the division.
It’s only region loss came to Myrtle Beach one week ago. But the team more than made up for it against the Sharks.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a team that was more ready to play,” he said. “I didn’t have to say a word. We were ready to play… on an away court. We matched their intensity and stay focused.”
It also didn’t hurt that the Chiefs’ top player had another great game against St. James.
Senior guard Jaquan Grissett – who dropped 31 in North Myrtle Beach’s 58-50 win over the Sharks Jan. 8 – finished Friday night with a game-high 26. He was 8-of-20 from the floor and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line.
It was the type of boost North Myrtle Beach needed, especially after a slow start.
The Chiefs, who last won a region title in 2006-2007, needed nearly four minutes to score their first points of the game. By that point, St. James led 8-0 and was carrying plenty of momentum.
It wouldn’t last.
“We knew there would be runs,” Moorehead said. “But if we were close at the end, we thought Jaquan could make something happen.”
Among Grissett’s plays Friday were a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left to make it a two-possession game. They helped pushed North Myrtle Beach to the sweep in the season series.
However, the Chiefs aren’t settling with this victory.
“We knew this was big,” Grissett said. “We [wanted to] stay on top of the region. But we still have a lot of work to do.”
North Myrtle Beach is now a full game ahead of both St. James and Myrtle Beach – which defeated Wilson on Friday. Those three teams have four games left to make their final region championship push, not to mention shore up playoff seeding.
For now, the Chiefs are atop the region. But that could change very quickly.
“This region is tough,” Moorehead said. “Myrtle Beach kind of embarrassed us at home. We have to stay level-headed and understand that every game counts.”
• NORTH MYRTLE BEACH (48) – Jahlen Livingston 2, Marshawn Scott 3, Josh Lindsey 9, Jaquan Grissett 26, Matt Lindsey 3, Forrest Vereen 5
• ST. JAMES (43) – TreDarius McCallum 10, Matt Strange 8, Caleb Duggan 11, Nehemiah Stafford 10, Jackson Hurston 2, Russ Sansbury 2
• 3-point goals: North Myrtle Beach 3 (J. Lindsey, Grissett, M. Lindsey); St. James 1 (Strange). Team fouls: North Myrtle Beach 13, St. James 18. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
• Records: North Myrtle Beach (15-5, 5-1 RegionVII-AAA), St. James (14-6, 4-2 Region VII-AAA).
Chiefs girls stay undefeated in Region VII
North Myrtle Beach trailed by as many as 14 points in the third quarter to St. James before outscoring the Sharks down the stretch.
The Chiefs eventually won 47-36, a victory that moved Jude Hunt’s team to 18-2 overall and 6-0 in Region VII-AAA. North Myrtle Beach had three players in double figures, including Taylor Allman (15 points), India Farmer (14) and Ja’Quella Livingston (12). Farmer also had a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Chiefs – who have now swept St. James – need just one more victory or a loss by Wilson in the last four regular-season games to guarantee a playoff berth. North Myrtle Beach will head to Wilson on Tuesday before returning home next Friday for a game against Georgetown.
St. James will play Georgetown on Thursday at home.
• NORTH MYRTLE BEACH (47) – Ja’Quella Livingston 12, Sarah McCloskey 2, Taylor Allman 15, India Farmer 14, Taylor White 4
• ST. JAMES (36) – Nicole Meyers 4, Anna Cavin 2, Eldreonna Hannah 17, Kelsi Bachmann 7, Hannah Price 4, Noel Cassidy 1, Bethany Goodrich 1
• 3-point goals: St. James 4 (Hannah 3, Bachmann). Team fouls: North Myrtle Beach 12, St. James 18. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
• Records: North Myrtle Beach (18-2, 6-0 RegionVII-AAA), St. James (8-11, 0-6 Region VII-AAA).
Contact IAN GUERIN at email@example.com.