“If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Void of the hustle and bustle representative of its bigger city counterparts, everyday occurrences in fringe communities the the like of Green Sea and other surrounding unincorporated areas can tend to go ignored.
Quiet is typically a prevailing theme for the area tucked into the northern corner of Horry County, only disturbed by the sound of tractors plowing through its lush fields or the laughter of one neighbor exchanging pleasantries with another. This past week, however, the veil of silence has been cut by a sense of excitement as a group of their own seeks to accomplish a rare feat.
Though region titles are certainly worth celebrating, it is not an accomplishment that warrants the hanging of a banner at Green Sea Floyds. In fact, only 12 hang from the rafters in the school’s gym, representing five state championships — four consecutive girls track and field titles (1993-96) along with a boys crown on the track in 1984 —and seven occurrences in which the Trojans finished as a state runner-up.
The 2016-17 edition of the Green Sea Floyds girls basketball team has already assured itself of a spot in that company, doing so by virtue of its 71-68 overtime win over rival East Clarendon in the Lower State A championship game. Even as that is an accolade worth a life’s worth of pats on the back, there remains one last hurdle for the squad to cross.
“On three, on three. One … two … three… STATE!,” the Trojans girls hoops squad yelled in unison as it broke practice Wednesday.
For the first time in school history, Green Sea Floyds will play for a state title on the hardwood, playing in the Class A girls championship game against Estill. It will take place at 4 p.m. Friday, at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.
The girls take a lot of pride in being able to represent their community. We’re not a town, we’re a little community. To be able to show up Friday, walk on that court and know we’re representing Green Sea Floyds, and get to stand out there for our small little community and let the whole state and whole country see what we can do.
Green Sea Floyds girls basketball coach Tracy Kienast
Since delivering a Lower State girls basketball crown to the northern edge of Horry County, basketball coach Tracy Kienast said he can best describe the experience as “a whirlwind” — both in terms of support from those at the school and community, as well as making sure he all I’s are dotted and T’s crossed in terms of logistics and preparation for the team’s trip to Columbia.
“We’re trying to stay as normal as possible,” he said. “Of course, there’s a lot of things going on, preparation and all that. But the school has been great, with a lot of teachers here helping me out, taking some of that load off me so I don’t have to worry about it. I can focus on the team, practice and getting ready for the game.”
If anything, the Green Sea Floyds girls basketball coach has done his best to shield players from the frenzy that is the lead-up to the state championship game. What Kienast didn’t expect, however, was for his players to be cool and collected about making it this deep in the playoffs.
“(Players are taking the pursuit of a state championship) better than I expected. They are not getting carried away with it,” he said. “We had a really good practice (Tuesday) and things (went) well Wednesday.
“They’re much more low key than I expected. I thought they’d be more amped and I’d have to rein them back in. But they’ve been good with it so far. They’re like, we’re not done yet … that’s kind of their attitude right now.”
On Friday, Green Sea Floyds will vie for the school’s first state championship since 1996, and first in girls basketball.
In addition to Kienast, such flows directly from the team’s co-captains, all-state guard Tamara Jackson and combo guard Jalinda Johnson. Between them, the pair averages greater than 33 points and 13 rebounds per contest.
Also playing a large role is senior Salena McCall, doing a lot of the dirty work in the post. Projections of himself on the floor, their importance in the Trojans’ success cannot be understated, Kienast said.
“They have been great. They’re the first ones ready to do what we ask them to do, jump in, keep things upbeat with the girls. Salena, my senior post player has stepped up with them too.
“They are our three leaders as far as keeping things on an even keel for the team. But they know they shoulder the scoring load … the team knows that. They don’t have big heads about it, no one is upset about it. … We talk a lot about roles, some score, rebound, play defense, and they’re good with it. Everyone follows their beat.”
Said Jackson: “It’s a different responsibility (being a team captain), that we need to set a better example for everyone else.”
More importantly, the Green Sea Floyds girls basketball coach has one more role he hopes players embrace — the opportunity to “Drive the Nail.” Wearing a T-shirt Wednesday asking his players to do exactly that, one more drive of the hammer into the head of a nail will bring something to the rural, farm communities of northern Horry County they haven’t experienced in more than two decades — the opportunity to say they are No. 1.
“The girls take a lot of pride in being able to represent their community,” Kienast said. “We’re not a town, we’re a little community. To be able to show up Friday, walk on that court and know we’re representing Green Sea Floyds, and get to stand out there for our small little community and let the whole state and whole country see what we can do.”
Class A girls state final
Green Sea Floyds vs. Estill
When: Friday, 4 p.m.
Where: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia
Records: Green Sea Floyds is 17-6; Estill is 18-7
Coaches: Tracy Kienast, Green Sea Floyds; Marcus Livingston, Estill
Key players — GSF: Tamara Jackson (Jr.), Jalinda Johnson (So.); EST: Roche Brown (Sr.), Jonica Jackson (Sr.), Maria Brantley (Sr.).
Scouting report: This is Green Sea Floyds’ first state title appearance. If it wants to be successful, the backcourt combo of Jackson and Johnson must make its presence felt. The pair combines for more than 33 points per game. … Only three seniors are featured on the Trojans’ basketball squad. On the other hand, Estill has eight on its roster. … Fighting Gators forward/center Roche Brown will by far be the tallest person on the floor, standing 6-foot-4. Meanwhile, no one on the Green Sea Floyds bench reaches the 6-foot mark. Brown averages nearly 13 points and 12 rebounds per game.
TV: WWMB-CW 21
Ticket info: Admission is $10 for admission to Friday’s full session of games.