With action on the gridiron winding to a close, the high school basketball season draws into clear view.
The 2016-17 basketball season officially begins on Monday. As with any new athletic campaign, there are a number of story lines likely to be answered over the course of the next few months.
Here are a few of them:
Old faces replace familiar figures
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Few things are constant in life, but among them is the fact time stops for no one, and that change is inevitable.
Certainly, the latter could be described as the case for high school basketball on the Grand Strand, as the coaches’ moving van earned more than its share of miles since last winter.
Socastee saw the biggest amount of turnover, with De’Andre Scott and Ginger Ford stepping down from their posts as boys and girls basketball coach, respectively.
The Braves turned to one of their own to give the boys’ hoops program a jolt, giving Derrick Hilton keys to the program. On the girls’ side, assistant Kelly Lewis was named head coach.
A coaching stalwart on the Grand Strand also put down his whistle, as Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach’s Darren Gore handed reins of the program to former Coastal Carolina guard and Manzer Academy founder Colin Stevens. After launching the program in 2007-08, Gore led the Saints to five SCISA state titles in seven years.
A familiar face in Georgetown will also be missing this season, as longtime boys basketball coach Alvin Walker resigned this past offseason. Michael Ford has taken over the program on an interim basis.
Leading the St. James boys basketball team to more than 150 wins during his tenure, Monty Carr stepped down as head coach in July. Former Sharks girls assistant coach Jeremy Heinold will lead the team this season, named interim head coach in July.
A name synonymous with Socastee basketball has taken on the lead role up the coast, with Braves legend Alvin Green now the head coach of the North Myrtle Beach boys hoops program. He replaces Cameron Koehler, who led the Chiefs to a region title a season ago.
Rudolph Brown has taken over as girls basketball coach at Waccamaw.
Grand Strand blessed with number of top prospects
Former coach and talent evaluator Jeff Schneider has watched a lot of basketball over the years on the Grand Strand.
With that in mind, this is the first time he has seen this much Division I talent coming through the area at the same time.
“You don’t have to look far to see it is there,” he said.
Five senior hoops standouts have already signed a letter of intent to attend Division I schools.
Among the local boys to do so are Socastee’s Jason Cudd to South Carolina, Bryce Schneider of Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach to Richmond and Carolina Forest’s Duane Moss to Youngstown State. The Myrtle Beach dynamic duo of Nia Sumpter and Kiana Adderton also put pen to paper, signing on to play for Wright State University.
In addition to those who have already signed, Justin Busby of Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach has offers on the table to Army and Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Conway’s Darren Stanley is getting his share of looks and Carolina Forest’s Damon McDowell could also receive interest, coming shortly after he returns from a leg injury sustained early in the football season.
Business could soon pick up for a number of underclassmen too, including Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach’s Michael Green, Conway’s Darren Grainger and Jimmy Nichols, as well as Samuel Woods of Waccamaw.
Myrtle Beach girls seek redemption
There isn’t much Myrtle Beach’s Kiana Adderton and Nia Sumpter have not done in their prep basketball careers.
Both have earned all-state honors. Each of them also topped the 1,000-point plateau during their time as Seahawks, along with the duo signing letters of intent to play basketball together after high school at Wright State.
Still, there remains a void on each of their resumes – state champion.
After falling four points shy of a state title last season, the Myrtle Beach senior standouts return with one more shot at bringing more hardware to the school’s already crowded trophy case.
The journey to the top won’t be easy by any means, though.
Fellow Region VII-4A representative Wilson returns its entire roster, one that advanced to last season’s Lower State final. Defending state champion Dreher also joins the Lower State this year, adding yet another hurdle in the Seahawks’ quest for a title.
Carolina Forest eager to take next step
For the Carolina Forest boys, the label of being a “one-and-done” team come playoff time had gotten a tad old.
Anxious to shed that dubious distinction, the Panthers earned a share of a region title and two postseason victories, making its deepest run in playoff history.
Still, this group of cats has its eyes set on a bigger piece of meat.
With many pieces of last year’s team still intact – including the senior core of Duane Moss, Ismael Garcia and Damon McDowell – Carolina Forest has a shot to make some noise in the Lower State.
Christian Academy’s ‘Big 3’
It was already fair to call Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach (CAMB) a SCISA powerhouse.
Winning five SCISA state titles in seven years, the future was already rather bright when Gore – the coach leading the Saints to those championships – opted to step down from his post.
Fortunately, the squad found itself a solid replacement in Stevens, but it also was able to add to an already loaded lineup.
Blessed with sophomore phenom Michael Green, CAMB added a pair of the state’s top senior prospects in Justin Busby and Bryce Schneider.
Schneider is the No. 6 prospect in South Carolina’s Class of 2017, according to Big Shots scouting and recruiting service. Busby is No. 24 on the list.
Green is the No. 7-ranked prospect in the state’s Class of 2019.
Without a doubt, this team is expected to contend for this year’s SCISA Class 2A title. Well before then, though, the Saints will be tested night in and night out, taking on nationally renowned Oak Hill (Va.) Academy’s Red Team, Greenville’s 22 Foot Academy, Porter Gaud as well as competition in the annual Beach Ball Classic.