By JOHN SMITHSON
The North Myrtle Beach High School varsity basketball teams went into the SCHSL AAAA playoffs last week and both the girls and boys teams were eliminated from the state 4A tournament against much higher seeds.
The Chiefs played their first round game last Wednesday against the number one lower state seed Irmo High School. Irmo took the court with a 22-5 record and with a 7-3 record in region 5AAAA.
The Chiefs fell behind 10-2 in the first period and added only two more points by the end of the period to trail 13-4 going into the second period.
Things didn’t improve for the Chiefs in the second period. Irmo opened the period with eight straight points to lead 21-4. The Chiefs hit a three-pointer to make it 21-7, but failed to score until another three-point shot, with Irmo in front 27-10. The Chiefs scored only two more points the remainder of the half while Irmo built its lead to 40-12 at halftime.
Irmo continued to dominate the Chiefs in the third period, scoring 13 points in the period to the Chiefs 7 points and a 53-19 advantage heading into the fourth period.
Irmo finished out its win with a 26 point fourth period, while the Chiefs scored 15 points, losing 79-34. Irmo was led by Brandon Crawford and Jonathan White, both with 17 points. Irmo had 18 steals in the game and took advantage of 24 turnovers by the Chiefs.
Irmo also won its round two playoff over West Florence, and then beat Lucy Beckham Monday to advance to the Lower State championship game against Hartsville. The Red Foxes beat number two seed Wilson 56-41 Monday night at Wilson. Wilson had beaten Hartsville twice in the regular 6AAAA season, but upset the Tigers before a home crowd. Hartsville benefited from 14 seeded Northwestern’s upset of number three seed St. James in round one of the playoffs.
Another interesting basketball occurrence. The Chiefs beat Hartsville early in the season at Hartsville, then lost to them by one point in their second game against the Red Foxes at North Myrtle Beach. Go figure.
The Lady Chiefs didn’t have much better luck last Thursday when they traveled to AC Flora for their first round playoff game. The Lady Falcons came into the game as the sixth seed in the region with a 17-7 overall record and 7-3 record in region 5, while the Chiefs were seeded eleventh.
The Chiefs had a rough offensive first period, trailing 19-5 as the second period began. The Falcons opened the second period with a three-pointer and Maddie Vereen answered with a three of her own for a 23-8 score. AC Flora had a turnover and two missed free throws before Faith Farmer hit a shot in the lane for a 23-10 score. Vereen made a free throw later in the period and Farmer finished the Chiefs scoring with two free throws and a three-pointer at the buzzer as the half ended with the Chiefs trailing 29-16.
The teams went almost two minutes into the third period before the Falcons scored a basket in the lane and another driving shot for a 33-16 lead and 4:35 on the clock. Farmer finally hit a jumper at the four minute mark for a 33-18 score.
The remainder of the period was in the Falcons favor. They held the Chiefs scoreless until the very last three seconds of the period, when Farmer took an inbounds pass and hit a three-pointer for a 39-21 score as the buzzer sounded.
The Falcons controlled the final period, using their defense, Chiefs turnovers and transition baskets as they jumped to a 50-22 lead with just over four minutes to play in the game. The Chiefs lost both Farmer and Jaden Berger to injury in the final four minutes, while managing to add a free throw by Kiera Olson after Farmer couldn’t continue, and a late basket by Ty’Wreanna Woodard for a 50-25 final score. Interestingly, the Chiefs held AC Flora scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Lady Chiefs coach Brooke Smith-Vereen had some final thoughts on the end of the season.
“The girls fought hard the whole game. I was proud of them for their efforts and their efforts all season. Lots of tears in that locker room, which lets you know that it meant something to them,” Smith-Vereen said.
AC Flora went on to beat third seed Bluffton last Friday night and beat Ridge View for the opportunity to play for the Lower State championship. Ridge View had knocked off the second seed South Florence Lady Bruins to advance. Anything can, and usually does happen in the playoffs.
The Lady Chiefs ended a disappointing season with their loss. After losing Riley Vincent and Destinee Vereen before the season even started, the Chiefs had to depend on a young team that had to learn to play together against a very talented list of region teams. Those younger players will have their test, and their opportunity to rewrite the script next year. Coach Smith-Vereen will be there to help them do just that.
A couple of good things to mention about Chiefs basketball. The 6AAAA region has announced its All-Region teams. The Chiefs Jamie Brooks was named to the All-Region first team. Wells Hill was named as an Honorable Mention for the boys team.
Faith Farmer concluded her season as a member of the second team All-Region squad. Ty’Wreanna Woodard was also an Honorable Mention for the girls teams in the region.