The 2012 football season included plenty of highlights for Grand Strand teams.
Socastee had an unprecedented year in terms of regular-season and playoff victories. Aynor won eight games for the first time since 1990. And after back-to-back 0-10 seasons for North Myrtle Beach, the Chiefs took a crucial step in rebuilding by winning four games.
Those three schools boosted the overall record of area teams into the positive at 75-71 after the 13 locals finished slightly under .500 a year ago.
There typically won’t be a radical change from year to year, given the amount of times area schools face off against each other. However, the three aforementioned teams and Carvers Bay were the biggest reasons for conglomerate owning an overall winning record this season.
Socastee led the charge, winning seven games more in 2012 than last year. North Myrtle Beach, Aynor and Carvers Bay each had four more victories than a year ago. Waccamaw was the only other area team with an increase, as the Warriors (3-7) improved their total by one game.
St. James (3-7) and Green Sea-Floyds (3-7) remained even.
The biggest differences the other direction were Andrews, which won six fewer games after losing a big senior class, and Carolina Forest (minus five). Conway (5-7) had three fewer victories this season. Georgetown, Loris and Myrtle Beach – which still won at least 10 games for the seventh consecutive season – all finished with one less win than a year ago.
So what can we expect for 2013? The overall figure could be determined very early on in the season.
Only three area teams will have changes in their football schedules. Schools will be in the second of their two-year blocks for non-region schedules. The only known differences to this point are Conway and Myrtle Beach’s opponents in the Derrick Law Firm Kickoff Classic and Green Sea-Floyds, who was still looking for an opponent to replace West Columbus (N.C.). North Carolina teams are not allowed to start as early as their counterparts in South Carolina in 2013.
On August 30, Myrtle Beach will play Richmond County (N.C.) in the opening game of the Kickoff Classic. Conway will play the nightcap against one of three schools: Southeast Raleigh, Wilmington Hoggard or Wilmington New Hanover. Event director Mark Stafford said Monday he expects to have the pairings for the 2013 Kickoff Classic released prior to the end of the year.
But those are just three of the match-ups against out-of-area teams that will help determine the Grand Strand’s overall win tally. Given what happened in 2012, there’s a realistic expectation of another overall winning record for the 13 local schools.
Basketball preseason tournament and awards
Several area basketball teams aren’t 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 kicked off Monday, also includes area teams St. James, Carolina Forest, Myrtle Beach, Georgetown and Waccamaw, as well as Mullins and Cheraw.
The eight-team event will have second-round games starting at 4:30 Tuesday. The championship game will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The games will count in each team’s regular-season standings.
That tournament comes on the heels of the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association’s release of its preseason top-10 teams and individual player squads.
The North Myrtle Beach girls team was ranked the No. 8 team in Class AAA, and Taylor Allman and India Farmer were each named to the top-five list for seniors in the class. Likewise, Carvers Bay’s Jasmine Eaddy was listed among Class A’s top-five seniors.
On the boys side, St. James (No. 8, Class AAA) and Carvers Bay (No. 6, Class A) were in the preseason top-10 lists, and each team had a player make the individual preseason team. St. James’ Caleb Duggan and Bears senior Da’Shaun Aiken were both part of those five-player lists.
More college signings
Several more Grand Strand athletes have signed Letters of Intent with various colleges and universities.
On Monday, Carolina Forest softball player Angelina Santoro inked with NCAA Division-II Coker College. She is now the second senior from this year’s team to officially commit, joining Alabama signee Marisa Runyon.
Socastee had a pair of athletes also sign Monday.
Kirsten English committed to continue her lacrosse career at NCAA Division-II Lees McRae. Alongside English, gymnastics standout Gilly Hogue signed a full-ride scholarship offer to attend Arizona State. Hogue, who competes out of Gymnastics and More in North Myrtle Beach, was a Junior Olympic national qualifier as a junior.
Aynor softball player Shelby Culler signed Thursday with NCAA Division-II Mars Hill in North Carolina. As a junior last year, Culler was 13-8 on the mound and led the Blue Jackets to the Class AA Lower State softball tournament. She also batted .353 on the season with four home runs and 18 RBI. She was named to the all-region team for the fourth consecutive season.
Myrtle Beach baseball player Wilson Wicker will also sign his non-scholarship financial aid paperwork with The Citadel Tuesday at the high school. Wicker, who will technically be a walk-on for the Bulldogs, plays primarily catcher and outfield. He batted .363 last season for the Seahawks.
These athletes joined Wednesday’s signees: Conway baseball players G.K. Young (Coastal Carolina) and Jordan Gore (South Carolina); Myrtle Beach basketball player Tanisha Brown (UNC-Charlotte) and Seahawk golfer Cameron Crutchfield (Coker College) and Runyon.
The final day of the early signing period for the majority of sports is Wednesday. The Grand Strand is expected to have several more athletes commit during the late signing period, which opens April 17.
That does not include football, soccer, cross country and track and field. Athletes in those sports will have their first opportunity to sign on Feb. 6.
Toast of the Coast
Nomination forms for The Sun News’ Toast of the Coast teams in fall sports will begin being emailed to area coaches this week.
Each sport has a specific deadline. If you have any questions regarding the process or deadline for a specific sport, please email Ian Guerin (football, girls tennis, volleyball, girls golf) at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Wetzel (cross country, swimming) at email@example.com.
The Sun News asks that all athletic directors and coaches submit their fall (basketball and wrestling) schedules as soon as possible. Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.