Courtesy of four days of school closings last week, area basketball teams will be feeling the pinch in the next two weeks.
Starting Tuesday, schools will have to play as many as six times in as few as nine game-available days before the first cut-off point to start declaring region records for playoff purposes. Nearly every Grand Strand school will play at least three games in one of the final two weeks of the region schedules, with the Myrtle Beach boys and girls teams doing it both weeks.
What that means outside of coaches discovering how durable their teams are is a possibility for region standings to shift significantly in a short period of time. No area teams have officially locked in playoff berths, and none have been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.
That, however, could change as soon as Wednesday evening.
By that time, four of the six teams in Region VII-AAA and all three local teams in the league will have played two more games. The most interesting race could come down to the boys and girls standings in Region VII-AAA. The areas most inclusive region is up in the air on both sides, with all six teams still mathematically alive for the region title.
Realistically, the Myrtle Beach teams (both 4-0 entering Tuesday) have the upper hand. However, games Tuesday against Socastee (tied for second in both boys and girls) and a trip to Wilson (tied for second in the girls standings, in fourth place in boys) could turn the region on its head.
Meanwhile, the North Myrtle Beach and Socastee boys teams tied for second place behind the Seahawks still have to play both of their regular-season matchups. The first will come on Wednesday night before the rematch Tuesday. On the girls side, St. James victory over North Myrtle Beach on Saturday was possibly the first of several lower-placed upsets to come in the final two weeks.
That said, here are this weeks games to watch, including some of the immediate implications:
• Socastee at Myrtle Beach boys Tuesday: The winner of this game is sitting in first place in Region VII-AAA. The Seahawks (4-0) would be alone at the top of the rankings, while Socastee would move into a tie with either Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach or both.
• Loris at Waccamaw girls and boys Tuesday: Both squads at Aynor, Loris and Waccamaw appear to be in the mix for the final playoff spots in Region VIII-AA. A potentially crazy play-in scenario could be in the works here.
• Socastee at North Myrtle Beach boys Wednesday: Depending on Tuesdays results, this one could again shift the region standings. Either way, the teams will play again six days later at Socastee.
• Myrtle Beach at St. James girls Friday: St. James is coming off a nice win over North Myrtle Beach. The Sharks, who were expected to be one of the regions top teams, could deliver another blow by knocking off the first-place team.
• Scotts Branch at Carvers Bay boys Friday: The Bears are less than a year removed from the Class A Lower State title game. This year, theyre struggling to earn a playoff spot. This may not draw state-wide attention, but for Carvers Bay, its a must-win if the playoffs are going to be in their future.
Aynor athletic hall of fame ceremony
Aynor has finalized plans for its 2014 Hall of Fame inductions, and this years class will include Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman and 2008 Aynor graduate T.J. Johnson.
The former Blue Jacket center went on to a successful career at the University of South Carolina before the Bengals picked him up in the seventh round of last years NFL draft. Johnson will be joined by former Aynor baseball player William Chandler and Horace Huggins, who graduated from Aynor in 1954 before going on to a successful coaching and administrator career at both Myrtle Beach and Socastee.
The three former Aynor athletes will be honored during a ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 12 between the girls and boys basketball games against Loris. Johnson and Chandler will both be in attendance, as will members of Huggins family. Huggins died in 2009.
Johnson, who was an all-state selection as a senior at Aynor and an All-SEC honoree at USC, was a member of the Bengals practice squad in 2013. He is expected to compete for a spot on Cincinnatis 53-man roster for the 2014 season.
Chandler was a Class AA all-state selection in baseball for the Blue Jackets in 2008. That year, he led the state in home runs. Chandler played at Florence-Darlington Tech and then Francis Marion.
Huggins helped found the football program at Socastee, where he spent time as the schools athletics director and football coach from 1966-1973.