All season long, Arkel Williams was the model of consistency.
The Carvers Bay senior had a few big games along the way. But it was his steady production each day of the season that truly impressed his coach.
“Every game, he just sort of went into the game to do his best. He wasn’t obsessed with trying to prove anything to anyone,” Jeff Mezzatesta said. “By the time anyone watched him play, they knew this kid was special. This kid was a ball player.
“Our whole vision with Arkel is we want to take this 6-foot-6 kid and make him a complete player. He became a mismatch problem. If you tried to play a guard on him out front, he’d take you down low. If you tried to pound on him, he’d take you down to the wing.”
In the process, The Sun News’ Toast of the Coast Boys Basketball Player of the Year also took Carvers Bay to another stellar season. The Bears finished as the Region VIII-A runner-up and advanced to the Class A Lower State finals for the third time in school history.
The forward averaged 18.5 points per game, tops among area teams, while adding 8.2 rebounds per game. The senior failed to record double-digit points in just one game – the season opener against Georgetown – and was frequently pushing his totals into the 20s or 30s.
The trend extended into the playoffs, as well. After dropping 17 points against both Scott’s Branch and Denmark-Olar, he scored 14 in a third-round victory over C.E. Murray and then finished with 24 in the Lower State finals loss against rival Hemingway.
By then, it was no longer a surprise to Williams that he was expected to carry Carvers Bay.
“I was more of a go-to guy this year. Everything went through me. It caught me off guard,” he said. “I wasn’t prepared for it. It really didn’t click on me until the Beach Ball Classic game. It hit me then; my team was depending on me.”
He didn’t let them down.
With Williams leading the way, Carvers Bay finished the season with 18 victories, the second most in the school’s 16 years. Of the team’s nine losses, seven came against either Hemingway or squads from larger classifications.
The Bears also had those three postseason victories, something that may have been inspired by that tough competition early.
“We had some games and we were like ‘Wow’ we are really good,” Williams said. “We could go really far with this. [The playoff wins are] a very important achievement for me. Not many people have done that at Carvers Bay. It kind of put us back on the map.”
Mezzatesta is confident very little of that happens the way it does without his 1,000-point career scorer. Plenty of others agreed. Williams was named to the North-South All-Star team and the Class A All-State squad, the school’s sixth such honoree.
“The best part of Arkel is the tradition that he has continued to and the tradition he has forced others to live up to. … That’s where I’m really proud of Arkel. He has continued the tradition of our program. I’m going to miss him. I’m going to miss what he has really put back into the program.”
The is the final installment of a three-part series recognizing the best in winter sports along the Grand Strand.
Player of the Year
School: Carvers Bay
Noteworthy: Class A All-State selection and North-South honoree reached the 1,000-point mark for his career during a senior season that included 18.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, as well as a trip to the Lower State finals.
Noteworthy: Class AA All-State selection and Grand Strand’s second-leading scorer put up 18 points per game and also finished among the area’s best in assists (2.8 per game).
School: Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach
Noteworthy: In his second year on the varsity, averaged 17.5 points, third in the area, and chipped in five rebounds, three assists and two steals per game.
School: St. James
Noteworthy: Two-time Toast of the Coast honoree helped Sharks back to the Class AAA playoffs by averaging 14.8 points, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals.
School: North Myrtle Beach
Noteworthy: Class AAA All-State selection and Region VII-AAA Player of the Year put up 17.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists for region champion Chiefs.
School: Carolina Forest
Noteworthy: Led Panthers with 13.8 points per game while shooting 46 percent from the floor. Also contributed 6.4 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.8 steals per game.
Coach of the Year
School: Carolina Forest
Noteworthy: Led Panthers to most victories in school history and a berth in the third round of the playoffs for the first time since Carolina Forest moved to Class AAAA in the 2008-2009 season.