Myrtle Beach’s Walker small in stature, huge in impact

For The Sun NewsMarch 14, 2014 

JANET BLACKMON MORGAN — jblackmon@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

  • The team

    Player of The Year

    Keocia Walker

    School | Myrtle Beach

    Class | Sophomore

    Position | Point guard

    Noteworthy | Class AAA All-State selection and Region VII-AAA Player of the Year led the Seahawks to the region championship and the third round of the state playoffs by averaging nine points, five assists and four steals per game after moving into the area from Georgia in November.

    Kira Bell

    School | Socastee

    Class | Freshman

    Position | Guard

    Noteworthy | First-team All-Region VII-AAA selection led Braves back to the playoffs by averaging 11 points, nine rebounds, 2.3 assists and two steals per game. Routinely played all five positions for Socastee.

    Marci Chestnut

    School | North Myrtle Beach

    Class | Senior

    Position | Forward

    Noteworthy | After significant departures from last year’s team, All-Region VII-AAA First Team member and North-South All-Star selection led Chiefs to the Class AAA playoffs by averaging 15.8 points and 12.4 rebounds per game.

    Kiana Adderton

    School | Myrtle Beach

    Class | Freshman

    Position | Forward

    Noteworthy | Defensive standout recorded nine rebounds and four blocks per game while also averaging 10 points each time out. Helped Myrtle Beach to first region title in three seasons.

    Aquera Johnson

    School | North Myrtle Beach

    Class | Freshman

    Position | Forward

    Noteworthy | Recorded eight double-doubles for Chiefs while averaging 10.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Named to the All-Region VII-AAA team, as well as the region’s Newcomer of the Year.

    Desaree Green

    School | Carvers Bay

    Class | Junior

    Position | Forward/Center

    Noteworthy | Two-time Toast of the Coast selection averaged 17.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and two steals per game. Helped Bears to the second round of the playoffs and a top-five statewide ranking most of the year.

Keocia Walker has learned to enjoy the stares from opposing teams as she walks onto the court.

At 4 feet, 9 inches with a solid pair of shoes, the Myrtle Beach sophomore doesn’t exactly look like she’s playing the right sport during warmups. When the game begins, it’s a different story.

The Toast of the Coast Girls Basketball Player of the Year racked up numerous postseason awards after leading the Seahawks to the Region VII-AAA title for the first time in three seasons. But none of that happened until she went through a similar experience with her own team after moving here from Georgia in November.

“When she came out to our first practice after she moved here, I asked her ‘Can you even play basketball?’ ” Myrtle Beach coach Jennifer Dennison said.

Said Walker: “It cracks me up now. I don’t let it bother me much anymore.”

She’s proved that in her short time on the court for Myrtle Beach.

Walker was named the region’s Player of the Year. A week later, she was one of just 16 girls in South Carolina named to the Class AAA All-State team. Her statistics – nine points, five assists and four steals per game – weren’t overly impressive.

But Myrtle Beach was a different team with her on the floor. The Seahawks could play faster, and some of the team’s height was able to get closer to the basket to create scoring and defensive mismatches.

The progress started with her teammates.

“They were excited that I came and they had a point guard,” Walker said. “It didn’t take them long to let me in.”

Still, the 2013-2014 season was a bit of a dry run in Dennison’s mind. Walker’s arrival allowed the Seahawks to move some of those other pieces around.

Myrtle Beach used the first six weeks of the season – including the CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational – to get ready for a region most believed would be won by some team other than the Seahawks. Instead, Dennison’s team started to peak in January and won the Region VII-AAA title with a game to spare.

“Next year, we should be able to be a completely different team with her here the whole time,” Dennison said. “A coach hopes to turn her keys over to the point guard. We had to see if the trust was there.”

It certainly was, and the team is already starting to think big for next year given the fact that every player is expected to return.

That list begins with Walker, a player who piled up accolades in her first season at the beach.

“I didn’t expect any of it,” she said. “Being so new and not being a 20-point scorer, it caught me off guard.”

Much like she has done to opponents.

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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