The Socastee girls basketball team, despite playing without leading scorer and rebounder Blake Smith, came away with a 39-37 win over Carolina Forest on Friday.
“We didn’t give up and we stayed with our defensive pressure,” Braves coach Ginger Ford said. “I know that Marisa Runyon can knock down 3s so we made sure that she didn’t have her best night from the 3-point line. Although we’re missing our leading scorer and rebounder [Blake Smith], I thought the rest of the team stepped up.”
Socastee went on a 9-0 run right out of the gate and closed the first quarter with a 13-4 advantage. Then, the Panthers took over. Carolina Forest went on a 16-0 run in the first four minutes of the second quarter, and the Panthers held a 23-19 lead at halftime.
“We didn’t take care of the ball and attack at the beginning of the game,” Carolina Forest coach Stacy Hughes said. “But then we got comfortable and put on the press and it helped our transition offense. We had a great second quarter.”
Kirstin Zanardo gave the Braves a 37-35 lead on a lay up with a little under three minutes to go. Maegen Harrelson went to the line for an one-and-one and nailed both free throws to give Socastee a 39-35 lead with 51.1 seconds left.
Alexis Tomlin made a field goal for Carolina Forest after grabbing an offensive rebound with 36.6 seconds left to cut the Panthers’ deficit to two. Madison Lowe went to the line for Socastee for a one-and-one, but Lowe missed the free throw to give Carolina Forest possession.
Panthers guard Jalah Horton turned the ball over with 5.5 seconds left. Sadreona Grant went to the line for two shots after getting fouled, but both shots missed. Carolina Forest inbounded the ball to Runyon with 2.6 seconds left, and she attempted a half-court desperation shot but the shot fell short.
“It was a tough loss,” Hughes said. “I thought the kids played hard. We got into some foul trouble at the end, had some turnovers and missed free throws. I think the inexperience on our team and all the youth got to us. It was the first time some of these kids have been in such a close situation down the stretch.”
The Braves held Carolina Forest to only five points in the fourth quarter.
“I thought they played well,” Ford said. “I know [they’re] young but they played pretty well. I think when we turned up the pressure, it made a big difference in the game.”
Ashley Turner had a team- and game-high 13 points to go along with nine rebounds for the Panthers. Runyon finished with seven points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Kirstin Zanardo had a team-high 11 points for Socastee. Grant added nine points and six steals.
“I thought Sadreona Grant was a catalyst on defense,” Ford said. “I think it was her best game at Socastee. She really came up big.”
Panthers boys cruise by Braves
Ryan Yurachek turned in a game-high 13 points and Xavier Jones had 10 points as the Carolina Forest boys basketball team knocked off Socastee 62-40.
“It was disappointing,” Braves coach Tommy Johnson said. “Especially in the first half I think we missed five or six point blank shots that would have helped us, but Carolina Forest played well. We’ve got four sophomores and it showed tonight. We did cut it close and got it within four or five and they went on a run and we just never could recover. They’re well-coached and played well.”
The Panthers ran away in the third quarter as they outscored Socastee 16-8. Adarius McCray finished with a team-high 11 points for Socastee.
“Offensively we did not execute well,” Johnson said. “There’s things we do well in practice but when we get on the game floor it’s like something else happens. Defensively we didn’t rotate. We didn’t play a well game and we didn’t win any category. We didn’t throw in the towel and didn’t stop playing hard so I congratulate the team on that but we just have to get better.”