Carolina Forest boys basketball coach Brian Brunson believed his team was eager to take the floor against a team other than itself.
If a runaway victory against North Myrtle Beach in the team’s season opener is any indication, the longtime Panthers coach’s hunch was correct.
After overcoming their share of season-opening jitters, Carolina Forest overwhelmed an undermanned Chiefs squad Tuesday night by a score of 70-26.
Due to the success of the North Myrtle Beach football team, basketball coach Alvin Green was forced to dress members of the Chiefs’ junior varsity squad. Early on, the group showed some flashes of brilliance, taking an early lead on the Panthers.
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But as the half dragged on, so did any hope of an upset as Carolina Forest’s sheer talent began to take over.
“I knew things would start a bit sloppy for us, especially being that we were anxious to go against another team,” Brunson said. “But I’m happy that as the game moved along, we settled in.”
Ending the first period up three points, a second half surge would push the Panthers’ advantage to double digits, heading to the locker room up 27-15. The run would continue into the third, a period in which Carolina Forest outscored its foes from North Myrtle Beach by a score of 28-0 — and boosting its lead to 40 points.
Brunson called off the dogs in the fourth, taking out starters such as Duane Moss, Ismael Garcia, Matt Beale and others in an effort to get reserves some valuable playing time. Garcia led all scorers with 19 points, with Moss not far behind with 15.
“It just feels good to get a win, and get the season started,” Brunson said. “But we are far from a finished product. There is still plenty of work to do, and thankfully there is a December schedule ahead where we can work a lot of those kinks out.”
According to Green, not having the services of his varsity players may just be a blessing in disguise.
“I actually look at it as a good thing,” he said. “We look forward to getting them back. But I also want the football team to go as far as possible and win a championship, not just to bring it home but so we can get some more work in with these junior varsity kids.”
NMB: Quentin Livingston 6, C. Chandler 4, D. Holmes 4, J. Doucette 3, C. Collins 5, C. Gore-Gause 4.
CF: Derek Alston 2, Ismael Garcia 19, Marcus Hemingway 8, Duane Moss 15, Matt Beale 6, Freddie Kane 6, Tariq Timmons 6, Jaylen Johnson 7, Kyle Ewing 1
3-pointers: NMB 2 (Doucette, Collins); CF 1 (Moss, Johnson). Team fouls: NMB 24, CF 12 . Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
▪ Carolina Forest 58, North Myrtle Beach 55
Ask Cheyenne Pyles about the importance of free throws.
The Carolina Forest point guard knocked down 9 of 11 free throws down the stretch Thursday night, doing her part to help the Panthers escape with a 58-55 win over North Myrtle Beach in their home opener.
“The kids did a good job converting free throws when we needed them,” said Carolina Forest girls basketball coach Stacy Hughes. “It would have helped if we had knocked some of those down early on, but we took care of the ball enough to get out of here with a win.”
Down by 13 points in the first half, the Chiefs steadily climbed their way back into the contest and briefly took the lead following an Aquera Johnson bucket midway through the fourth period.
Even after the Panthers built the lead back to seven points, North Myrtle Beach again got off the mat to pull to within a point. But Pyles’ ability to make free throws forced the Chiefs to have to attempt a heave from long range, one that fell well short of the mark.
“Carolina Forest really came out shooting well, and it put us in a hole early,” said North Myrtle Beach girls basketball coach Jude Hunt. “We did a good job of coming back, but things didn’t fall our way.”
Pyles had 15 points for Carolina Forest, while center Alexis Tomlin led the team with 19. North Myrtle Beach was led by Johnson, who had 15 points.
NMB: Danaja Gore 2, Jordan Berger 4, Daveona Hatchell 3, Anslee Wood 10, Jenna Berger 3, Savannah Wood 3, Shania Cox 4, Jevelyn Cox 2, Aquera Johnson 15, Julie Carini 9.
CF: Gabby Giracello 3, Cheyenne Pyles 15, Aubrey Bowen 4, Ellen Nardella 13, Jordan Martin 4, Alexis Tomlin 19.
3-pointers: NMB 3 (A. Wood 2, S. Wood), CF 5 (Pyles 2, Nardella 3). Team fouls: NMB 19, CF 14. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.