Brian Brunson has seen the good and bad of his team’s 3-point shooting since taking over Carolina Forest in 2007.
At times it’s been the catalyst for victories – at others, it’s downright crippling. So two nights after connecting on a season-high 12 3s in a double-digit win over West Ashley, the Panthers coach wanted to make sure his team continued to take advantage of some solid guard play.
Carolina Forest defeated Socastee 71-58 on the strength of another eight 3-pointers. Those shots helped Carolina Forest build a lead then hold the Braves at arm’s length throughout the second half.
“That’s got to be a strength of ours,” Brunson said. “We have too many guys who can shoot the 3 to not do it well.”
Much like that win Tuesday, all those long-range shots came from a variety of players. Against Socastee, Carolina Forest got three from Zavier Jones, two each from Parker Helgerson and T.J. Simmons and another from Will Brunson.
But it wasn’t as if the Panthers were simply jacking up shot after shot from the outside. Forwards Jawan Butler-Stevens (12 points, eight rebounds) and Ryan Yurachek (eight points) were able to get inside early.
It opened up the Panthers’ best trait as it nears the start of Region VI-AAAA play, which begins Tuesday when Carolina Forest heads to West Florence.
Still, Brunson doesn’t want his team to turn into a one-trick pony.
“If they’re not falling, they understand they have to do other things,” he said. “I think our guys are starting to trust each other. They play better defensively.”
Socastee was held to just 19 points in the first half. Senior Koel Cutler led the way with 18 points, and Adarius McCray chipped in 14.
The Braves also start their region play next week when they play at Georgetown on Monday. They’ll enter the most important part of the regular season having lost two straight games, including Tuesday’s loss at Waccamaw.
“We knew it was going to be two tough road games,” first-year head coach DeAndre Scott said. “That’s not who you want to go into the region.”
Socastee, which won five games all of last season, fell to 8-6 this year. The Braves should be in the mix for one of Region VII-AAA’s four playoff spots.
Meanwhile, Carolina Forest will have one more non-region game (Friday at Carvers Bay) prior to its most meaningful games.
As for what the Panthers have to focus on?
“We’ve got to continue,” Brunson said, “to do what we do.”
For now, that appears to be shooting 3-pointers.
Braves girls building momentum
Socastee coach Ginger Ford may not have the most stacked team in Region VII-AAA, but the Braves have something positive going prior to the start of the Region VII-AAA schedule.
Junior guard Sierrah McCarty scored 21 points as Socastee defeated Carolina Forest 46-37. The win moves the Braves to 9-4 in advance of Monday’s region opener at Georgetown.
“We’re doing what we have to do to get the job done,” Ford said. “Sierrah’s scoring. She really put the offense on her back. At least we got a little bit of inside scoring.”
McCarthy, averaging better than 15 points per game, nearly had that by halftime Thursday. She connected on four first-half 3-point baskets and added a fifth in the second half.
Sydney Wortham grabbed eight rebounds and teammate Madison Lowe had seven for the Braves. Socastee was again playing without injured point guard Kira Bell. In her place, Mia Angelo scored nine points and was six-of-seven from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Carolina Forest (2-10), which will head to Carvers Bay on Friday, had a team-high 10 points from eight grade guard Cheyenne Pyle.
• SOCASTEE (58) – Devin Melko 1, Dylan Thompson 11, Dante Moore 4, Finn Melko 8, Koel Cutler 18, Adarius McCray 14.
• CAROLINA FOREST (71) – Zavier Jones 12, Chris Johnson 6, Andy Wright 3, Parker Helgerson 10, T.J. Simmons 8, Duane Moss 3, Ryan Yurachek 8, Will Brunson 9, Jawan Butler-Stevens 12.
• 3-point goals: Socastee 2 (Cutler 2); Carolina Forest 8 (Jones 3, Helgerson 2, T.J. Simmons 2, Brunson). Team fouls: Socastee 15, Carolina Forest 17. Fouled out: Melko. Technical fouls: Yurachek.
• Records: Socastee 8-6, Carolina Forest 5-7
• SOCASTEE (46) – Amber Rutledge 3, Maegan Harrelson 2, Sydney Wortham 3, Madison Lowe 5, Mia Angelo 9, Sierrah McCarthy 21, Shayla Baldwin 2.
• CAROLINA FOREST (37) – Jalah Horton 3, Cheyenne Pyles 10, Megan Spring 4, Ellen Nardella 3, Kia Brisbon 7, Nancie Edge 2, Kayla Spring 8.
• 3-point goals: Socastee 5 (McCarthy 5); Carolina Forest 3 (Pyles, Nardella, K. Spring). Team fouls: Socastee 12, Carolina Forest 14. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
• Records: Socastee 9-4, Carolina Foest 2-10.
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