Before the Beach Ball Classic tips off on Dec. 26, area hoops fans will have plenty of opportunities to get their basketball fix.
Three tournaments – the CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational, the Shootout By The Sea and the Panther Classic – each offer solid fields of high school teams. The Holiday Invitational will begin on Tuesday, with the other two tournaments starting on Saturday.
The Holiday Invitational, the annual precursor to Beach Ball, will have a 16-team girls bracket with schools from South Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Games in that tournament begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday when Timmonsville plays Miami Senior (Fla.). Myrtle Beach, the only area team in that field, will open against St. Joseph Central (W.Va.) at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday.
The championship game will take place at 2:15 p.m. Saturday. With the exception of two early games on Wednesday being played at Myrtle Beach High School, the tournament will take place at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Tickets are $15 per book, although CresCom Bank is running several promotions giving away free tickets. Information on those can be found at local branches.
On Saturday, the 10th annual Shootout By The Sea tournament will start at North Myrtle Beach High School. Joining the Chiefs’ boys team in the field this year are Bearden (Tenn.), Hillcrest, Fort Mill, Whale Branch, Broome, Lancaster (Penn.) and Carolina.
Girls teams include North Myrtle Beach, Monacan, Summerville, Goose Creek, Crestwood, Southside, South Florence and Cross. Monacan and Summerville will start the tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday. The North Myrtle Beach girls will play Cross at 7 p.m. Saturday, with the North Myrtle Beach boys closing out the first day at 8:30 p.m. against Carolina.
The championship games in that event will be played at 6 p.m. (girls) and 7:30 p.m. (boys) on Monday. Tickets, which are good for a full day, are $7.
Half of the field for the eight-team Carolina Forest Panthers Classics consists of local teams. Carolina Forest will be joined by area squads Myrtle Beach, Georgetown and Carvers Bay, as well as Barbourville (Ky.), Lake Wales (Fla.), Forsyth County Day (N.C.) and Martinsburg (W.Va.).
Barbourville and Carvers Bay will commence the tournament at 4 p.m. Saturday. Host school Carolina Forest will play Lake Wales at 7 p.m. The championship will take place at 8:30 p.m. on Monday.
Doors will open at 3:15 p.m. all three days, and tickets are $5 per day.
Shrine Bowl on tap
Two area players will be taking part in Saturday’s Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. Socastee quarterback Hunter Renfrow and Carvers Bay defensive tackle Naquez Pringle were selected for the 77th annual event, and both players are among the 44 South Carolina seniors already in Spartanburg taking part.
South Carolina is 43-29-4 all time in the series between the two states and has won four of the last six games. Last year, Conway receiver Malcolm Green was named South Carolina’s offensive MVP after grabbing three receptions for 98 yards in the Sandlappers’ 23-19 victory.
This year’s game, which will kick off at 1 p.m., will again be played at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium. Tickets can be purchased in advance at any North Carolina or South Carolina Academy Sports and Outdoors store for $15 or $20 at the gate.
Region VII-AAA football honors
North Myrtle Beach had its best football season in more than a decade. As a result, the Chiefs were honored with two of the top five individual awards and placed a league-high 12 players on the All-Region VII-AAA teams.
Linebacker Laquinn Bellamy was named the region’s defensive player of the year, while Perry Woolbright was named the region’s coach of the year. Socastee quarterback Hunter Renfrow was named the region’s overall player of the year. Class AAA state champion Myrtle Beach earned the other two, as running back Brandon Sinclair was named the offensive player of the year and receiver/defensive back/return man Kelton Greene earned athlete of the year honors.
In total, North Myrtle Beach’s 12 individuals on the two all-region teams was four better than Myrtle Beach, Georgetown and Wilson, which each had eight selections.
Renfrow’s senior season ended with 1,501 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing and another 810 yards and 12 touchdowns passing. He led the Braves to undefeated regular seasons in each of the last two years.
Sinclair burst onto the area’s football scene by rushing for 1,919 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Bellamy recorded 125 tackles and 19 tackles for loss this season. He also had six sacks and two interceptions.
Greene led Myrtle Beach in interceptions (six), taking three of them back for touchdowns. On offense, he recorded 931 yards and nine touchdowns receiving.
Woolbright, just two years removed from back-to-back winless seasons, led North Myrtle Beach to a 9-3 record. The Chiefs upset Orangeburg-Wilkinson in the first round of the playoffs.
The teams were officially released Monday. For full Region VII-AAA honors, visit the Prep Talk blog at MyrtleBeachOnline.com.