It wasn’t easy or pretty, but it got the job done.
North Myrtle Beach jumped to an early lead and held off a spirited second-half effort from Darlington to earn a 53-40 victory Monday in the first round of the Class AAA girls basketball playoffs.
The Chiefs (23-2), ranked No. 4 in Class AAA, sped out to an early 8-0 lead and stretched the margin to 34-21 behind a first-half double-double from India Farmer. The senior had 11 points and 10 rebounds before the break, but was 1 for 5 from the field in the second half as the Falcons (10-12) adjusted on defense in the second half.
“We came out and executed real well in the first half,” North Myrtle Beach coach Jude Hunt said. “They threw a little curve at us in the second half with a triangle-and-two and the box-and-one. We had a game plan for that, and we started off executing well, but then we got frustrated by it and let them get us out of our game plan.”
Darlington slowly chipped away at the gap and cut it to single digits when Deanna House stole the ball and set up Tori Smith’s layup with 4:21 to play.
Darlington, the No. 4 seed from Region VI-AAA, cut the score to 43-37 with 2:53 left when House hit her first two fouls shots after she drew contact on a 3-point attempt.
But the Chiefs took control from there, finishing the game with a 10-3 run to seal the win and advance to the second round.
“I thought we did OK defensively, but offensively I thought we could have done a little better,” Hunt said. “I think we got a little bit tired and didn’t do some things as well tonight. We got away from what we were trying to do, allowed them to dictate what we were going to do instead of sticking to our game plan.”
Farmer finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Ja’Quella Livingston had 11 points, 23 rebounds (17 defensive) but 10 turnovers, and Taylor Allman finished with 15 points.
Jada Richardson led Darlington 13 points and eight rebounds and Smith finish with 10 points.
North Myrtle Beach will face the winner of Monday’s game between Gilbert and Hilton Head in the second round. That game will be played on Thursday at 7 p.m. at North Myrtle Beach.
• DARLINGTON (40): Deanna McMillian 2, Jada Richardson 13, Heidi McNeil 1, Tori Smith 10, Deanna House 9, Angel Gale 1, Courtney Graham 4.
• N. MYRTLE BEACH (53) –Sarah McCloskey 2, Ja’Quella Livingston 11, Taylor Allman 15, Taylor White 4, India Farmer 15, Marci Chesnut 6.