Myrtle Beach has absolutely had Wilson’s number the past few years.
Whether it was a respective up or down year for the Seahawks, their dominance was a tried and true fact.
The latest meeting turned the rivalry upside down.
Myrtle Beach fell 42-33 to its Region VII-4A rivals in the Lower State finals at the Florence Center on Friday. It ended a six-game winning streak against the Tigers, and more importantly, it ended Myrtle Beach’s season.
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“We just had to keep playing until the end,” Seahawk guard Ajia Kelly said. “I wouldn’t say we doubted ourselves, but we let the time get to us. We let it get into our heads a little bit.”
Specifically, the reason Wilson will be playing North Augusta next week in the Class 4A state championship is all because of the final six minutes against Myrtle Beach. The Seahawks entered the final quarter with a 27-23 lead and were still up by three points two minutes into a slow-starting fourth.
That’s when Wilson turned on the jets.
Kiashia Jones connected on a 3-pointer to give Wilson its first lead of the game at 33-31. Moments later, Loyal McQueen hit a bucket and a plus-one free throw to extend the lead further. D’Asia Gregg hit two free throws of her own, and then McQueen pumped in a couple more for good measure to finish with a game-high 13 points. Kelly led Myrtle Beach with 10, and junior Asia Smith added nine points and 15 rebounds.
However, in the final six minutes, all Myrtle Beach could muster was two free throws.
“I think a lot of it had to do with nerves,” Seahawks coach Jennifer Dennison said. “When Wilson got that lead by one point, we got out of character. It’s just the little things. We told them free throws and layups would win the game. And Wilson made their free throws and layups and we missed ours.
“We had a good season. This is all we can ask for. They competed. But those last six minutes, we were out of character.”
It certainly was based on the past several years’ worth of games against Wilson.
Entering Friday, Myrtle Beach had won those six straight, dating back to the first match-up of the 2016 season, and nine of the past 11. In 2018, 2017 and 2015, Dennison’s team swept the regular-season series. And in 2016, Myrtle Beach defeated the Tigers in the Lower State finals to advance to the Class 3A finals.
In many of those seasons, Wilson was expected to be the biggest potential stumbling block for the Seahawks, and success against the Tigers was in line with how well Myrtle Beach did against everyone as a whole. Since taking over prior to the 2012-2013 season, Dennison was 119-39 overall and 14-5 in the playoffs.
Those respective win columns will remain exactly the same until next year.
“I think they should have never beat us,” Kelly said. “But we came out on the short end of the stick this game.”