HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL

Myrtle Beach girls ousted from playoffs by Orangeburg-Wilkinson

For The Sun NewsFebruary 25, 2014 

Keocia Walker isn’t looking at Tuesday as the ending.

Rather, with the amount of youth the Myrtle Beach girls basketball team has been playing with, Tuesday’s loss in the third round of the state playoffs is only the beginning.

The Seahawks were eliminated with a 56-27 loss to Orangeburg-Wilkinson, the state’s top-ranked team. It ended a season in which the inexperienced Myrtle Beach squad surprised many by winning the Region VII-AAA title and then a pair of playoff games.

“Nothing makes it easier,” said Walker, the Seahawks’ All-State guard. “The [attitude of the offseason] is different because we can get it next year. We aren’t losing anybody.”

That approach to the offseason is a reality after the Seahawks faced an Orangeburg-Wilkinson team many expect to win the state championship.

The Bruinettes have been the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAA since early January. And against the Seahawks on Tuesday, they showed why.

Orangeburg-Wilkinson utilized its size and experience – coach Josh Staley starts four seniors – to build a 12-0 lead to start the game, allowed just two first-quarter points and then played more than well enough the rest of the way to prevent the Seahawks from ever mounting a serious comeback.

Class AAA All-State selection DeJoria Howard scored 14 points and Zaria Snipes added 13. Those two matched the Seahawks’ team total. Walker and forward Kiana Adderton each had a team-high seven for Myrtle Beach.

But the more important number for the Seahawks was 22.

Orangeburg-Wilkinson forced that many turnovers, with seven of them coming in the first quarter.

“You can’t beat many teams doing that,” Myrtle Beach coach Jennifer Dennison said. “We couldn’t match their size with ours.”

Said Walker: “They had the height. They had the speed. They had it all.”

Orangeburg-Wilkinson moves on to face Crestwood at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Florence Civic Center in the Lower State finals. Meanwhile, the Seahawks’ season ends at 15-11.

Dennison said the team will meet Wednesday to start preparing for the offseason conditioning program. Myrtle Beach’s entire roster is expected to return. That includes Walker, Nia Sumpter, Nakia Black, Adderton and a number of others key members.

That was a group, Dennison said, that was “underestimated” in 2013-2014.

Assuming everything goes to play, that won’t be the case next year, when Myrtle Beach might very well be the region favorite.

•  ORANGEBURG-WILKINSON (56) – Zaria Snipes 13, DeJoria Howard 14, Kierra Mitchell 9, Erin Houser 4, Amari Grevious 4, Sade Johnson 4, Vondria Ritter 8.

•  MYRTLE BEACH (27) – Ivy Collins 2, Keocia Walker 7, Nia Sumpter 4, Nakia Black 6, Mia Pressley 1, Kiana Adderton 7.

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• 3-point goals: OW 4 (DeJoria Howard 3, Zaria Snipes); MB 1 (Keocia Walker). Team fouls: OW 13; MB 9. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.

•  Records: Orangeburg-Wilkinson 26-2; Myrtle Beach 15-11.

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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