The highest-ranked team in the 32nd Beach Ball Classic played like it Thursday night in its opener, to the vexation of Myrtle Beach.
Whitney Young (Ill.), the No. 4 team in the nation according to MaxPreps, dispersed of the Seahawks 80-44 in Thursday’s nightcap.
“I think we played hard on the offensive side. We got after it,” said L.J. Peak, a transfer from Gaffney who tallied a game-high 23 points and added seven rebounds and three assists against the Seahawks. “We have to rebound more on the defensive side.”
Junior 6-9 forward Paul White tallied an impressive stat line of 22 points, eight rebounds, nine steals and six assists for the Dolphins, and 6-11 star junior Jahlil Okafor recorded 16 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and three assists.
“They’re big – real big and very skilled and very talented,” said Myrtle Beach coach Craig Martin. “It’s kind of tough to match up with a team like that. It’s just tough when they have a guy 6-11 and 270, and our tallest guy is 6-7 and 150.”
Nolin Butler scored a team-high 20 points for Myrtle Beach (6-4), and had 13 of the Seahawks’ 16 points in the first half.
Pressure defense by Myrtle Beach worked for a short time early in the game, leading to seven Dolphins turnovers in the first half and fast break points that helped the Seahawks stay within 3 points at 9-6 four minutes into the game.
But Whitney Young’s athleticism and quickness soon took over and the Dolphins recorded 13 steals in the first half alone.
Whitney Young (7-1) forced 20 Seahawks turnovers, including 15 in the first half, and used its size for a mild 37-32 rebounding advantage.
“It shows we need to protect the ball a little bit better and we have to obviously continue to work on boxing out,” Martin said. “We’ll learn from every game and the main thing is we’re ready to play when we get into region play.”
The Dolphins have a rematch Friday night of the 2011 Beach Ball third-place game against Bishop Gorman (Nev.). “We just have to play our game and play like we usually play and it will take care of itself,” Peak said.
Whitney Young 44-16.3-point goals:
Whitney Young 3 (White, Luzadder, Peak); Myrtle Beach 5 (Lewis 2, Butler 2, Swanson).Team fouls:
Whitney Young 15, Myrtle Beach 20.Fouled out: