Several area basketball teams arent waiting for the full opening to the 2012 season to get underway.
The Socastee girls basketball team is again playing host to the Lady Braves Sand & Hoops Invitational this week. The tournament, which kicks off today, also includes area teams St. James, Carolina Forest, Myrtle Beach, Georgetown and Waccamaw, as well as Mullins and Cheraw.
Cheraw, which appeared in the Class AA state playoff quarterfinals a year ago, is attempting to repeat as the Sand & Hoops champion. However, this year's event has doubled in number of teams to eight.
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First-round games for Socastee's tournament commence at 4:30 p.m. today with St. James playing Carolina Forest. Myrtle Beach will take on Mullins at 6 p.m.; Georgetown plays Cheraw at 7:30 p.m.; host school Socastee will go against Waccamaw at 9 p.m. Games will continue Tuesday, with the winners of the first two and second two games facing off in the semifinals. The winners of those games will then play at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday for the tournament championship.
Sand & Hoops includes several of the area's best players, including Socastee senior Blake Smith. A year ago, the Toast of the Coast honoree averaged 12.7 points, 11 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game en route to be named to the all-regino team for the second consecutive year.
Carolina Forest senior Marisa Runyon - who signed with Alabama to continue her softball career last week - scored better than 15 points while also averaging 7.8 rebounds, two steals and 1.7 blocks per game as a junior. Runyon was also named to the Toast of the Coast squad.
Myrtle Beach's Tanisha Brown will be starting her final season as a Seahawk. The highly coveted guard/forward inked with UNC-Charlotte last week. That college commitment came despite missing the second half of her junior season with a major knee injury. Prior to that, she was averaging a double-double for Myrtle Beach.
Tickets for Sand & Hoops are $5.