Prep notebook: Myrtle Beach prepping for big crowd in Lower State final

For The Sun NewsNovember 25, 2013 

The Myrtle Beach football team has won eight of its last nine games.

BY JANET BLACKMON MORGAN — jblackmon@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

Myrtle Beach is doing everything possible to make sure it is prepared for its opportunity to play the Class AAA Lower State at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.

After all, the scenario was quite improbable when the playoffs began.

Since the division began using the current playoff format in 2002, only three non-No. 1 seeds have played at home in the state semifinals. It happened twice in 2007, when No. 2 seeds Chester (Upper State) and Crestwood (Lower State) came through the brackets as the highest remaining seeds. It also happened in 2002, when No. 2 seed Union did the same in the Upper State.

Myrtle Beach’s 2013 squad will be the fourth.

The Seahawks did their part by advancing this far, defeating two No. 1 seeds in the process. However, they also got some help from Marlboro County. The Bulldogs finished in a three-way tie for first place out of Region VI-AAA with Hartsville and Crestwood but were seeded third based on a points tiebreaker. Marlboro County’s upset of top overall seed Socastee last week set up this week’s matchup.

“We knew just with Marlboro County, Hartsville and Crestwood, everything was possible,” Myrtle Beach Athletics Director John Cahill said. “We hoped we would be home. It’s just a unique opportunity for our kids and our community.”

Cahill and the rest of the Myrtle Beach administration is already getting prepared for what should be a packed Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.

Tickets for the game went on sale Monday at the high school. Tickets, which are $7, will also be available on Tuesday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. On Friday, the remaining tickets will then go on sale starting at 1 p.m. at the Doug Shaw ticket booth.

The school is expecting in excess of 6,000 people to attend Friday’s game. The stadium has permanent seating for approximately 4,500 people, but additional bleacher seating and standing-room space allows for an official capacity of 6,500. The two high schools can sell 6,000 combined tickets. Up to 500 South Carolina High School League passes must be honored, getting to the final attendance figure.

Doug Shaw will also be utilizing a second entrance gate this week. In addition to the standard gate next to the primary parking lot, there will be an access point between the north end zone and Ashley Booth Field. Fans parking at the high school or Myrtle Beach Middle School can use that entrance.

The school is working on additional signage for the parking lots, and extra security for the game will be in place, Cahill said.

Gates will open to fans at 6 p.m., 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

At that point, Myrtle Beach will try to make the unexpected trip to the fourth round of the state playoffs count.

“As a coach, you’ve got to be optimistic and you keep plugging along,” coach Mickey Wilson said. “I knew this team, if they stuck together – which they have – anything would definitely be possible. Now, when we were 1-3, I probably would have said some words that I shouldn’t say. When you’re dealing with 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids and you continue to believe in one another, anything is possible.”

The Seahawks (9-4) have won six straight and eight of the last nine since losing at home to Carolina Forest on Sept. 20.

Marlboro County (11-2) has won seven consecutive games since falling to Hartsville on Oct. 4. The Bulldogs, like Myrtle Beach, defeated two No. 1 seeds in the playoffs to qualify for Friday’s Lower State title game.

Tradition vs. tradition

Nate Thompson sat alongside two of his players on Monday for the team’s media conference in Columbia advancing the Class A, Division I state title game against Christ Church.

It was nothing new for the only man who has ever coached the Bears.

Thompson is leading his squad into its fifth state title game in the school’s 14th season.

Carvers Bay won the 2002 Class AA state title and the 2006 Class AA, Division I title. The Bears lost to Chesterfield in the Class A, Division I state championship game in 2007 and 2008.

Likewise, Christ Church is no stranger to the biggest game of the season. The Cavaliers won last season’s Class A, Division I championship and the 2011 Class A, Division II state title. Since Don Frost’s second season coaching the Cavaliers, his team has won a minimum of 12 games per season.

That includes a streak of 38 straight games dating to September 2011.

The game will be played at 3 p.m. Friday at Benedict College in Columbia. Tickets are $10.

High school hoops

Socastee’s Lady Braves Sand and Hoops basketball tournament will continue Tuesday and Wednesday for the second and third days.

The eight-team event includes six area girls teams: Carolina Forest, Conway, Georgetown, Socastee, St. James and Waccamaw. Cheraw and Mullins are also playing.

Carolina Forest, Socastee, Waccamaw, Mullins and Cheraw all qualified for the 2012-2013 state playoffs, with Cheraw making it to the third round of the Class AA postseason. Cheraw won the inaugural Sand and Hoops tournament in 2011; Mullins won the tournament last year.

All games will be played in Socastee’s main and auxiliary gyms. The first-round games were played Monday. Tickets are $5 per game for the general public and $3 for those with a valid student ID.

All teams will play all three days, and the championship game will be held at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday.

SCBCA preseason rankings

The South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association released its preseason rankings Wednesday, and only three area teams were among the top 10 in their respective classes. Carvers Bay’s boys and girls teams each came in at No. 3 in the Class A polls.

Myrtle Beach, in its second season under Jennifer Dennison, is No. 9 in the Class AAA girls rankings.

Additionally, North Myrtle Beach boys guard Matt Lindsey was listed as one of Class AAA’s seniors to watch, while Carvers Bay’s Darius Williams was included in the Class A list.

For a complete list of the state rankings, visit the Prep Talk Blog at MyrtleBeachOnline.com.

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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