Toast of the Coast

Jackson’s role in Green Sea Floyds basketball’s revival leads to Toast of the Coast honor

Green Sea Floyds guard Tamara Jackson (4) drives against Estill’s Tykeria Jackson (11) and Jonica Jackson (23) in the Class A girls state championship last month.
Green Sea Floyds guard Tamara Jackson (4) drives against Estill’s Tykeria Jackson (11) and Jonica Jackson (23) in the Class A girls state championship last month. For The Sun News

Quickly taking a glance at the lights hovering above the court at Columbia’s Colonial Life Arena, it did not take Tamara Jackson long to understand she was not in Green Sea anymore.

A rural farming community tucked into the northwestern portion of Horry County, it and its residents live in relative obscurity in comparison to the glitz and glamour of other area locales.

Much like the profile of the community it represents, the Green Sea Floyds girls basketball team was a relatively forgotten entity four years ago when guard Tamara Jackson first donned the black and gold.

“I remember those days … not being able to win a game,” she said. “Having no wins, it doesn’t get any tougher than that.”

It is the depths of such despair that made the Trojans junior appreciate her brief few hours on the Colonial Life Arena floor all the more. And it is in the same venue used by University of South Carolina basketball teams in which the diminutive Green Sea Floyds dynamo made herself a household name.

Following a season in which she averaged 19.3 points per game to go along with 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists, Jackson is The Sun News’ Toast of the Coast girls basketball Player of the Year.

Already an all-state performer at the Class A level, Jackson almost single-handedly brought the Trojans back from a double-digit deficit in their state championship game defeat at the hands of Estill. Though unable to come away with a title, she did leave with another award, her 31 points the best among all players during state championship weekend.

None of that comes as a surprise to Green Sea Floyds’ Tracy Kienast, who has become accustomed to Jackson’s heroics as her basketball coach.

“We communicate back and forth a lot, a little eye contact, just a quick hand signal,” he said. “She knows what I’m saying, she’ll give me some suggestions, sometimes telling me ‘Hey, I’d love to run this.’ And I’m like ‘OK, sounds good.’ 

For Jackson, the season started with an accolade as she surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career. Her ability to score already well known, the Trojans co-captain’s goal this past season was to become a better distributor, making a concerted effort to get teammates involved more frequently.

“I’ve always felt that if we as a team can stick together, that we can do anything,” she said. “That includes scoring as well.”

But when her team needs it, Jackson has shown the propensity to flip the switch. Though often the smallest person on the floor — standing a mere 5-foot-3 — she can at times also become its most dominant.

“I never feel like a game is over … even if we are down 10 points or more,”she said. “It’s about confidence, and I’m confident in myself and my team’s abilities.”

At Green Sea Floyds, banners are placed in its gymnasium only if one of its teams are able to claim a Lower State or state championship. By virtue of Jackson and her fellow Trojan girls basketball teammates’ accomplishments, the school will be making some room this summer for another.

“That banner will hang there and be a symbol of what we accomplished. That we did it,” she said. “But with that said,I still have more goals. I want next year’s team to grow, I want to get my assists and steals up, keep a good scoring rate and help us keep a good momentum — both in game and in the season.

“Most of all, I hope we can get back to state … and this time, win it.”

Joe L. Hughes II: 843-444-1702, @JoeLHughesII

Editor’s note

This is the first installment in a three-day series honoring the top high school athletes from winter sports along the Grand Strand. Tomorrow: Boys basketball.

Toast of the Coast Girls Basketball Team

First team

Tamara Jackson

School: Green Sea Floyds

Class: Junior

Notable: Earned Toast of the Coast Player of the Year honors after leading the Trojans to a Lower State championship. Voted a Class A all-state performer, she averaged 19.3 points per game to go along with 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 4.5 steals per contest.

Kiana Adderton

School: Myrtle Beach

Class: Senior

Notable: A Class 4A all-state performer, she was named Region VII-4A Player of the Year after averaging 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals per game. Her contribution helped lead the Seahawks to a Region VII-4A title. Adderton will attend Wright State University next season.

Shayla Baldwin

School: Socastee

Class: Senior

Notable: The engine that made the Braves go, Baldwin led the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game, while finishing second in rebounds (5.7) and assists (1.3).

Lenaejha Evans

School: Conway

Class: Junior

Notable: A Class 5A all-state and first team Region VI-5A performer, she had 13.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Her contribution helped guide the Tigers to a Region VI-5A title — the program’s first league championship since 1983 — and a berth in the Lower State 5A final.

Alexis Tomlin

School: Carolina Forest

Class: Junior

Notable: A certified stat machine for the Panthers, she averaged 20 points and 14 rebounds per game, along with 4.3 blocks. An all-state performer, she became a member of an elite class, joining the club of players with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds for their career.

Second team

Iklea Green

School: Loris

Class: Junior

Notable: Voted co-Region VI-3A player of the year, she led the Lions to earning a share of a league title this past season. She averaged 16.5 points — a team-high — and 3.4 rebounds per game.

Neci Hemingway

School: Conway

Class: Junior

Notable: An all-Region VI-5A performer, the Tigers’ team captain has just shy of 11 points per game to go along with her average of 11.1 rebounds this past season. She earned a double-double on 10 occasions during the 2016-17 basketball campaign.

Aquera Johnson

School: North Myrtle Beach

Class: Senior

Notable: An All-State 4A and first team Region VII-4A performer, she led the Chiefs in points (12.2 points) and rebounds (10.7) per game, along with finishing second on the squad with 1.4 assists per contest.

Jalinda Johnson

School: Green Sea Floyds

Class: Sophomore

Notable: A breakout star for Green Sea Floyds this season, she averaged 14 points and 6.8 rebounds per game en route to helping the Trojans earn a Lower State championship.

Nia Sumpter

School: Myrtle Beach

Class: Senior

Notable: Putting an end to a decorated career as a Seahawk, the Wright State signee averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds per game, that along with an average of 3 steals and 2 assists. She was again named an all-Region VII-4A performer, and a South Carolina all-star in last month’s Carolinas All-Star Classic.

Coach of the Year

Tracy Kienast

School: Green Sea Floyds

Notable: Guided Trojans to a 17-7 record and a Lower State A championship.