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Home tourney unkind to North Myrtle Beach

The North Myrtle Beach girls basketball team wants to be a gracious host for the Shootout by the Sea holiday tournament, but it also realizes it's time to start sending participants back home with a loss or two.

The Chiefs remained winless in the six years of the hosting the event, falling 39-31 to Clover Monday night in its 2009 tournament opener.

This year's event features eight boys teams and eight girls teams, and kicked off with eight games Monday. The NMB boys capped the evening with a 64-59 win over South Aiken.

"It seems we help a lot of teams out with their record when they come to this tournament," NMB girls coach Jude Hunt said. "We've struggled to win. I don't know what it is. We bring in some pretty talented teams, but we should have won tonight."

The Chiefs, coming off a six-win season, fell to 2-4 and will continue to play in the round robin loser's bracket.

They committed several turnovers on traveling and inbound violations, as well as telegraphed passes, and managed just 13 field goals for the game and 13 points in the second half. Sophomore Janelle Walls' scored nine points, including the game's only 3-pointer, and senior Emily Lawrence tallied eight points.

"We're looking for a few more baskets," Hunt said. ". . . The effort has been there we just need to do it consistently. We're young and making a lot of mistakes. Early in the season we're expecting some things like that. Hopefully by the time region comes around we're working a lot of those kinks out and not making those same mistakes."

Clover, a classification above the Chiefs in AAAA, improved to 2-8 in the first year of coach Sherer Hopkins' second stint with the Blue Eagles. In nine previous seasons at Clover prior to a two-year break from coaching, Hopkins led the program to six region titles and two appearances in the Class AAA state title game.

She has inherited a rebuilding project this time around, however, and starts two eighth-graders and two sophomores. "We're building and we've really improved this year. I'm seeing them start to turn the corner a little bit," Hopkins said. "I thought we held our composure well down the stretch, which we struggled with in this past month or so, so I was glad to see that finally happen."

The Blue Eagles next play Monacan High out of Virginia as they continue to enjoy the two primary things the tournament offers: unknown opponents with varying styles of play, and beach activities. "It's a lot of fun for them so it's hard to keep them focused sometimes," Hopkins said. "They want to run around and go to the beach and all that stuff. But we're having fun."

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