LITTLE RIVER — North Myrtle Beach played defense like its season depended on it.
The way the Chiefs shot the ball, it probably did.
North Myrtle Beach advanced to the third-round of the Class AAA state playoffs with a 42-30 victory over Hilton Head Thursday at home. In the process, coach Jude Hunt’s team piled up 22 steals, helped force 33 total Seahawk turnovers and allowed just five offensive rebounds.
“No way,” senior India Farmer said when asked if the Chiefs win without those types of defensive numbers. “Our defense is what kept us in it. At a certain point of the game, we went cold [offensively]. Thanks to defense, that’s what kept us in that game.”
That being the case, Hilton Head didn’t do itself many favors. After leading 3-2 45 seconds into the game, the Seahawks didn’t connect on another field goal until the second quarter.
In that time, North Myrtle Beach built a 16-3 advantage while racking up 11 steals.
Farmer had 10 points in the first quarter alone en route to a game-high 18. But again, one of the team’s two Class AAA All-State selections’ offense was a secondary storyline.
Hilton Head had just three field goals in the second and fourth quarters, and was limited to four in the third quarter.
Farmer and teammate Taylor Allman (16 points) combined for 11 steals and 10 rebounds. Farmer was also largely responsible for guarding Seahawk sophomore forward Americal Jenkins, who entered the game with 16 double-doubles on the season.
Jenkins finished with four points and nine rebounds.
“We have a couple offensive players, but we say everybody can play defense,” Hunt said. “Rebounding and defense are things that any player can do on any given night, whether you’re off on your shot or whatever.
“Defense tonight is what won the game for us.”
Hilton Head’s previous game – a 52-16 second-round victory against Gilbert – made sure North Myrtle Beach was focused on the task at hand before tip-off. Without much but a score to go off of, the Chiefs knew they had their work cut out for them.
But after storming out of the gate, Farmer, Allman and the rest of the team went a bit flat on offense. As a group, the Chiefs shot just 35 percent for the game, did not make a single 3-point attempt and the other three starters combined for just five points.
It didn’t matter.
Defense more than made up for it.
A similar performance could again be key Monday, when the Chiefs play host to Crestwood. The Knights (22-5 and winners of 16 straight) defeated Hanahan 47-37 Thursday to advance, and the two No. 1 seeds will face off with a trip to the Lower State finals on the line.
“Having the confidence to run up and down the floor is what we need, confidence in our defense and offense, whether we’re hitting shots or not,” Farmer said. “As long as we can do it on the defensive end, the rest will take care of itself.”
• HILTON HEAD (30) – Savannah Reier 7, Austin Seelbach 6, Rachel Friend 6, Americal Jankins 4, Jamaica King 4, Brennan O’Gorman 3.
• NORTH MYRTLE BEACH (42) – India Farmer 18, Taylor Allman 16, Taylor White 4, Marci Chestnut 3, Sarah McCloskey 1.
• 3-point goals: Hilton Head 3 (Reier 2, Friend). Team fouls: Hilton Head 11, North Myrtle Beach 11. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
• Records: Hilton Head 18-8, North Myrtle Beach 24-2.
Contact IAN GUERIN at email@example.com.