Excuse Nia Sumpter and Jason Cudd if their travel bags were packed a tad light for the Carolinas All-Star Classic.
After all, unlike those joining them for a weekend chock full of activities, home was only a matter of minutes away.
A place where both honed their skills and became top notch talents, also served as the location each of them would finish their high school basketball careers.
Oddly, both on separate occasions were able to roll out the red carpet, playing hosts to their peers descending on Myrtle Beach from all corners of the twin states.
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This past Friday night, Sumpter’s Myrtle Beach campus hosted the annual 3-point and slam dunk competitions. On Saturday, boys and girls all-stars from North and South Carolina took to Socastee’s famed “Brave Wave” — where Cudd became a household name — for the final prep basketball game in most of their careers.
An All-Region VII-4A performer her senior year, Sumpter will continue her career on the basketball court at the college level, taking her talents to Wright State University. The opportunity to take the floor with players of the same caliber is not lost on the Seahawks’ standout, who wanted to finish her time in the green and gold just as it started — with a flourish.
“It feels pretty good, I’m just blessed that I made it … that’s the big thing. I’m just happy I made it,” Sumpter said on being selected to this year’s Carolinas All-Star Classic. “… I really just want to go out with a bang and finish hard, and play hard. That’s the big thing for me.”
Sumpter would claim team MVP honors for the South Carolina girls all-star team, scoring 14 points going 5-for-11 from the field. It came in a losing cause, however, the girls from the Palmetto State falling to their counterparts from North Carolina, 95-67.
“It was pretty fun going up against top competition, especially since we didn’t play that much in our conference,” Sumpter said. “… Being selected made it special. I’ve been working at since I was in eighth-grade so it was pretty special to me.”
As for Cudd, his prep career finished with him scoring 5 points in a losing effort, as the South Carolina boys all-stars fell to North Carolina, 134-115. The Socastee 7-footer will now move on to the University of South Carolina, to whom he signed this past fall.
The opportunity to play one last time in front of a hometown crowd is one Cudd said he will cherish for some time to come.
“I like representing where I’m from, Myrtle Beach,” he said. “And being in Myrtle Beach, I know the area and the schools, so it’s great to be a part of. … (The thing I will remember most) is making it back to the playoffs. We hadn’t been able to make it since my freshman year, so making it back felt good.”
As much fun as the weekend was, both saw it as a business trip preparing them for what to expect at the next level.
“It’s competitive … and it’s hard. But everyone is great,” Cudd said. “You just got to keep working and get better.”
NORTH-SOUTH ALL-STAR GAME
Adversaries throughout their entire prep careers, Myrtle Beach standout Kiana Adderton and Aquera Johnson of North Myrtle Beach found themselves on the same bench this past Saturday.
Taking the floor a final time as high schoolers, the all-state performers were part of last weekend’s North-South All-Star Games in Lexington.
Adderton, a Wright State signee, scored 5 points for the South squad in an 81-56 victory. Johnson also had 4 points of her own in a winning effort.
Also on the bench for the game was Johnson’s coach, longtime North Myrtle Beach head man Jude Hunt.