Arguably, the most tense moments Friday night for the Myrtle Beach girls basketball team and coaching staff came after its dominating 46-22 win over Darlington.
Ecstatic at the prospect of making yet another trip to the Lower State semifinal round, there lied an opportunity to potentially host one more playoff game in front of a loyal group of Seahawks fans.
Huddled outside the team’s locker room, head coach Jennifer Dennison and her assistants constantly sifted through tweets and text messages as to what was occurring more than two hours away in Hopkins. After finding itself down seven points moments earlier, Lower Richland had battled back to tie Hartsville at 53-all with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation.
“C’mon Hartsville,” said one of the coaches, keeping the flame of hope alive.
It would be extinguished moments later, however, as the Diamond Hornets’ Cailah Hicklin knocked down a game-winning shot, propelling her team to a 55-53 win and a date with Myrtle Beach.
While certainly disappointed with having to make the lengthy trip to the Midlands, by no means was this group’s confidence shaken.
“Guess we’ll just have to make it happen in Columbia,” Dennison said before walking into the locker room to address Seahawks players.
After all, the mere opportunity to still be playing is an option squads preparing for spring sports wish they had.
On their way back from Charleston on Thursday, Green Sea Floyds’ Tracy Kienast had trouble – the good type – having a conversation, with his Trojans girls hoops squad celebrating a 55-40 win over Palmetto Scholars. They will meet Cross on Monday night in a Lower State semifinal tilt.
Also grateful to still be playing is Socastee girls basketball coach Kelly Lewis. Entering the postseason as a No. 4 seed, the Braves now find themselves a step away from Florence and a berth in the Lower State 5A final.
Getting to this point, however, was no easy task. Socastee had to make a pair of two-hour bus rides to the Charleston and Columbia areas, facing formidable foes in Fort Dorchester and defending state champion Spring Valley.
“The thing is, in the playoffs it is all about that night and those two teams,” she said. “You just have to be the better team on that particular night … and we were.”
Particularly on Friday evening, when the Braves held a Vikings team that had scored 81 points in its playoff opener to 47. “We knew we needed to make this a low scoring game. … If we were to have a chance, we’d have to hold them to 50 points or less,” Lewis said.
That, along with a 25-point night for standout Shayla Baldwin, and Socastee is a mere step away from playing for a Lower State title. In its way is rival Conway, which knocked off another Region V-5A squad in Dutch Fork on Friday night.
“This is pretty big for us,” said Conway girls basketball coach Shamae Hemingway. “I told the girls that each level gets harder and harder, but with each step I feel we’re gaining momentum and confidence.”
Neci Hemingway scored 26 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the win.
‘FAB 5’ PERFORMANCES
Alexis Tomlin, Carolina Forest: The All-State 5A performer scored 39 points and had 16 rebounds for the Panthers on Tuesday night, leading them to a 51-38 win over Ashley Ridge.
Tamara Jackson, Green Sea Floyds: Filled the bucket to the tune of 30 points in the Trojans’ 55-40 win over Palmetto Scholars.
Justin Busby, Christian Academy: Scored 28 points — while knocking down five 3-pointers — for the Saints in their 71-68 win over Trinity-Byrnes to claim the SCISA Region III-2A title Tuesday night.
Neci Hemingway, Conway: The Tigers forward scored 26 points and had 14 rebounds to help propel her team to a 54-45 win over Dutch Fork.
Shayla Baldwin, Socastee: Scored 24 points on Tuesday night against Fort Dorchester, before following that performance up with 25 in a Braves win Friday over Spring Valley.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Socastee girls: Going on the road is tough, particularly during the playoffs. The Braves have accepted the challenge, however, notching a pair of road wins over Fort Dorchester and Spring Valley en route to a berth in the Lower State semifinal round.
(all games start at 7 p.m.)
Socastee at Conway,
Myrtle Beach at Lower Richland
Green Sea Floyds at Cross
Carvers Bay vs. TBA (result of Bears games Saturday vs. Woodland was not available as publication of Hardwood Report), 7 p.m.