Of the Myrtle Beach players listed in the scorebook, Ben Mintz’s name likely wasn’t one expected to be heard much on Tuesday night.
His team finding itself in a tight matchup with Socastee, the junior forward made several plays down the stretch to change the momentum of the game, allowing the Seahawks to pull out a 56-44 win over their Grand Strand rival.
Rarely can a non-scoring play be termed a “turning point” in a game. Yet, with the two teams tied and a Braves player streaking toward the other end of the floor, Mintz was able to get his hand on the ball just before it kissed the glass, swatting it back to the waiting arms of a teammate.
“I like playing for my team and putting them first. Anything I can do to help us win, I’ll do it,” he said.
The block causing everyone to leap from their seats on the Myrtle Beach bench, the energy was also palpable on the floor as the Seahawks used the momentum to seize control of the game, outscoring Socastee 12-5 in the game’s final four minutes. Among the key plays in that decisive run was an up-and-under lay-up by Mintz, getting around Braves 7-footer Jason Cudd for the bucket.
For the game, Mintz had 8 points, four rebounds and that key block. While not necessarily earth-shattering, the importance of those plays was not forgotten by Myrtle Beach boys basketball coach Craig Martin.
“Ben has been an awesome teammate, and you don’t always get an opportunity to coach a player like him,” he said. “Whether he is on the bench, he is cheering his heart out. If he’s on the court, he’s playing his heart out. I mean, he is an absolute awesome teammate and shows what he means to this team.”
We’re growing together, these kids like being around each other and like each other’s company. We won’t win a state championship with this game. But it did put us in situations that you’re going to see down the road, and that’s what we can take out of this and build on it.
Myrtle Beach boys basketball coach Craig Martin
Early on, Myrtle Beach found themselves unable to climb the ladder, Socastee running its offense through Cudd and its other big men. The approach worked like a charm, allowing the Braves to build an early lead.
Good coaches tend to make adjustments. For Martin, the answer proved to be putting added pressure on Socastee ball handlers, hoping it would in return cause turnovers.
Like a charm, it worked. According to Socastee boys basketball coach Derrick Hilton, that adjustment helped swing the game in Myrtle Beach’s favor.
“They tried to pick up the pressure a little bit, they gave us a little bit of a zone and threw the ball away … gave it right to them,” he said. “I think they did a good job of moving the ball and working together. Whereas, we didn’t do any of that.”
Myrtle Beach guard Robert Swanson led all scorers with 19 points. He also had three steals in the game. Adding 11 points of his own for the Seahawks was Emory Knox.
Cudd led the way for Socastee with 15 points. He also had four rebounds and two blocks.
Wins like the one on Tuesday night may not win a beauty contest. But in Martin’s belief, those are the games in which a coach can learn a bit about his team’s character.
“We’re growing together, these kids like being around each other and like each other’s company,” he said. “We won’t win a state championship with this game. But it did put us in situations that you’re going to see down the road, and that’s what we can take out of this and build on it.”
SOC: Alex Collins 10, Tyler Rainer 4, Kendrell Generette 4, Aeneas Green 3, Jason Cudd 15, Andrew Gardner 8.
Home: Jayce Allen 2, Robert Swanson 19, Brady Vest 7, JaQuan Chestnut 3, Emory Knox 11, Oneil McBride 6, Ben Mintz 8.
3-pointers: SOC 0, MYB 4 (Vest, Knox, McBride 2). Team fouls: SOC 20, MYB 20. Fouled out: Cudd (SOC). Technical fouls: None