Even before the Hartsville girls scored their first field goal of the game, Myrtle Beach was already feeling pretty good about its chances.
The Seahawks held their first-round opponent in the Class AAA basketball playoffs without a basket until the 3:53 mark of the second quarter and then cruised to a 59-38 win Monday to move on to the next round. And chances are, another postseason victory this year is going to be much tougher than the first.
Myrtle Beach will face Tuesday’s winner between No. 1 Orangeburg-Wilkinson and No. 4 Midland Valley. And if the seeds hold, the Seahawks will be heading to Orangeburg to face top-ranked girls team in Class AAA.
“I feel like we’re very, very confident,” senior Tanisha Brown said. “I have faith in my team. All we have to do is prepare for them for two days and we can come out with the win.”
Another performance like Monday’s could be crucial in making that happen, regardless of who Myrtle Beach faces.
Against Hartsville, the Seahawks (16-9) did seemingly everything right, especially early. On top of the strong defensive start, Brown – who in November signed with UNC-Charlotte – put up an all-state worthy game.
She finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists for her second triple-double of the season. It was a big difference from Thursday’s regular-season finale against rival North Myrtle Beach, when Brown got into early foul trouble and missed much of the game, a Seahawks loss.
On Monday, she created shots for herself and teammates.
Forward Nia Sumpter led all scorers with 17 points while also tallying 15 rebounds. And Kianna Adderton added a double-double of her own with 11 points and 13 boards.
But it was the defensive presence that set the tone.
Hartsville (12-6) was forced into more than its fair share of early turnovers and shots that simply weren’t falling. Myrtle Beach also prevented the Red Foxes from more than a handful of second-chance attempts.
By the time Hartsville sophomore Jordan Dawson connected on a running jumper in the lane with less than 4 minutes remaining in the second quarter, the game was already heavily in Myrtle Beach’s favor.
“I’m glad we focused on the defensive end because we knew they were a shooting team,” Myrtle Beach coach Jennifer Dennison said. “They want to shoot a lot of 3s. We were just trying to push the ball and play [defense].”
Myrtle Beach led 16-2 late in the first quarter and had an even more lopsided halftime mark.
Doing so again Thursday – should Orangeburg-Wilkinson (23-1 overall) advance – will be significantly more difficult. If that matchup does take place, Myrtle Beach players and coaches don’t feel any sense of intimidation.
The team’s trip to the CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational included two games against high-caliber teams.
“Orangeburg-Wilkinson is no better than the teams we played in the Beach Ball Classic,” Dennison said. “All season, even the losses we had were against good teams. We didn’t lose to weak teams.”
• 3-point goals: H 4 (Heslewood 2, Pendergrass, McDaniel); MB None. Team fouls: H 16, MB 17. Fouled out: Dawson, Johnson. Technical fouls: None.
• Records: Hartsville: 12-6; Myrtle Beach: 16-9.