With under five minutes left in the third quarter and the score tied, Myrtle Beach senior Anthony McNeil made his first field goal of the night to give the Seahawks a two-point advantage over Carolina Forest.
From that point on, the lead changed hands seven times and it was all McNeil for the Myrtle Beach boys basketball team as he scored 10 of his 14 points during that span in the Seahawks’ 65-63 win on Saturday night.
After McNeil hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 55 with about five minutes left in the game, he converted a layup with about four minutes left to put the Seahawks ahead by two and Myrtle Beach held off the Panthers in the final minutes.
“We’ve missed him the first half of the year and now he’s back. He’s got fresh legs, he’s an extremely good athlete; the best defender that we have right now. Him and Rivers Singleton are two excellent defenders and we’re just kind of getting those guys back,” Myrtle Beach coach Craig Martin said. “[McNeil] did a great job, he stepped up, he’s a senior. We see it every day in practice but when it’s time to step up – other guys were struggling today – he stepped up and really did a great job of leading us tonight.”
Trailing 64-61 with 6 seconds left, Panthers forward Parker Helgerson connected on two of three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point try. Myrtle Beach’s Brooks Swanson was then fouled and made one of his two free-throw attempts to put the Seahawks up by two. Carolina Forest was unable to get a shot attempt before the buzzer sounded.
“The main thing we want to do is protect the ball, execute, and try and draw them out and make them foul so we can get to the free-throw line. But when we get the free-throw line we have to make our shots,” Martin said. “We were just trying to control the tempo, run some offense, run some clock and force them to foul. If they can foul, hopefully we can make our free throws.”
And that they did.
The Seahawks were 8-for-11 from the charity stripe in the final five minutes and finished 22-for-26 from the free-throw line in the game. Swanson and Soloman Cooper finished with 14 points apiece for Myrtle Beach.
Jawan Butler-Stevens scored a game-high 20 points for Carolina Forest and Ryan Yurachek finished with 12.
“Too many mistakes in the last two minutes,” Panthers coach Brian Brunson said. “A turnover here, a missed rebound. Good open looks, just didn’t fall for us. The kids played their butts off. Both teams played well and it’s a good game to get your legs up under you to get ready for the rest of the region schedule.
“We’d like to win [the rest of the region games],” Brunson added. “We’ve seen everybody and know what we’re against. We’re going to have to do our homework and get ready to play.”
Meanwhile, Martin was critical of how his team performed and stressed that they have to play better to keep up with the tough opponents in Region VII-AAA.
“We have to play better than we did tonight – offensively and defensively,” Martin said. “We just have to make sure we take care of business because our region is pretty much wide open; there’s a lot of good teams there. There’s a lot of teams fighting for playoff spots and every night is going to be a dog fight.”
• CAROLINA FOREST (63) – Chris Johnson 4, Andy Wright 6, Parker Helgerson 7, Dwayne Moss 7 Ryan Yurachek 12, Will Brunson 7, Jawan Butler-Stevens 20.
• MYRTLE BEACH (65) – Anthony McNeil 16, Graham Vaughn 2, Soloman Cooper 14, Rivers Singleton 2, Brooks Swanson 14, Drew Allan 3, Coleman Martini 7, Will Gray 7.
• 3-point goals: Carolina Forest 3 (Johnson, Wright, Brunson); Myrtle Beach 5 (McNeil 2, Swanson 3). Team fouls: Carolina Forest 17, Myrtle Beach 23. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
Contact MAX MCKINNON at 626-0302.