Jennifer Dennison made it no secret that Friday night could be her Myrtle Beach girls basketball team’s final game at home this season.
Particularly looking at her seniors, she emphasized the importance of making a lasting impression.
“We told our seniors this could be their last home game, so make their parents and community proud of them,” she said.
With the seed firmly planted in their minds, a workmanlike effort from the Seahawks earned them yet another trip to the Lower State semifinal round, defeating Darlington 46-22.
Myrtle Beach (21-2) advances to take on Lower Richland on Monday night, with a spot in the Lower State 4A final hanging in the balance.
Irritated with her team’s effort Monday night in a win over Dreher, Dennison used its practice the following afternoon to set the tone for what she expected — not only for Friday night — the rest of the postseason.
What she got was a squad locked in on the defensive end, forcing the visiting Falcons to take more than its share of low percentage shots. Though rebounds were hard-earned against Darlington’s inside players, when the Seahawks were able to corral loose balls, they made sure to convert transition opportunities into points.
“Basically (we wanted) to play team basketball and play our game,” said Myrtle Beach senior standout Nia Sumpter, who led all scorers with 9 points. “We knew if we came out and played defense the way we knew how, we’d come away with a win.”
For a large share of the basketball season, Sumpter and Region VII-4A Player of the Year Kiana Adderton shouldered the load in regard to scoring for the Seahawks. On this night, however, it was a team effort as nine players offered a contribution to the team’s final output.
“We told them it takes a team,” Dennison said. “You know, we don’t look at one or two people scoring. We look at the whole team getting involved, and doing the little things.
“That’s one thing about the Lady Seahawks, it’s not about points … it is about a team effort.”
In addition to Sumpter’s effort, seventh-grader Shillae Campbell scored 7 points. Ivy Collins, Janell Horton and Tatyanna Hollins chipped in 6 points apiece.
As for Darlington (11-6), Hope Richardson led the way with 7 points, while Nyasia Taylor followed up with 5 points of her own. According to Sumpter, it was a challenge battling Richardson trip after trip down the floor.
“(Richardson), she was strong, so you had to box and hold for for a good three seconds because she liked to move a lot,” she said.
With the Falcons now behind them, Myrtle Beach sets its sights toward Lower Richland and locking up a berth in Florence for the second year in a row. While knowing the level of play increases with each round, the Seahawks are sticking with a familiar formula.
“Our main focus is defense. If we play good and intense on defense then our offense will come,” Collins said.
DHS (22): Asani Davis 2, Deja Turner 5, LaDayshia Bonaparte 5, Kenya Thomas 3, Hope Richardson 7.
MB (46): Shillae Campbell 7, Ajia Kelly 2, Ivy Collins 6, Jalah Horton 3, Nia Sumpter 9, Janell Horton 6, Kiana Adderton 2, Kira Bell 3, Tatyanna Hollins 6, Makayla Morgan 2.
3-pointers: DHS 1 (Thomas), MB 3 (Jal. Horton, Hollins 2). Team fouls: DHS 11, MB 10. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.