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Seahawks win inaugural Middle School Basketball Championship over Chiefs


The line of fans for Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach Middle schools stretched into the parking lot outside the North Myrtle Beach High School gym last Saturday just after noon. Parents, teachers and students from both schools were lining up to see a championship game between the Seahawks and the Chiefs boys B-Team.

The championship tournament is a partnership between Horry County Schools and Horry Telephone Cooperative. It came at the end of the regular B-Team season, with every B-Team basketball team from each county school playing in a single elimination tournament that began on Wednesday, Feb. 1, and ended last Saturday at the Chiefs gym.

The county’s schools were divided up into the Coastal and Inland divisions for the tournament, with each school winning its way into the Saturday championship game. The Chiefs came into the game with a 14-0 record for the season, while the Seahawks were 16-0 on the year, both also sweeping their opponents in the championship’s first rounds of competition.

Rio Stevenson scores two of his game high 12 points for the NMB Middle School B-Team in last Saturday’s championship game in the Middle School tournament. The game was played at North Myrtle Beach High School before a big crowd of fans from Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach Middle schools, both teams undefeated entering the Championship game. Photos by John Smithson

As the teams warmed up, the atmosphere was much the same as any varsity game at the high school. Middle school cheerleaders from both schools performed and cheered. Students from the schools were somewhat smaller and younger than the usual crowd. The number of people in attendance rivaled any Chiefs home game, and the pre-game National Anthem and player introductions were just like any other game.

The official tossed the ball up at center court and the Chiefs Rio Stevenson scored the first two points of the game on a jump shot for a 2-0 lead in the first of four six minute periods. Both teams took about three minutes of play to get the feel of the game. There were plenty of missed shots by both teams, a traveling call or two, blocked shots and a turnover or two. Team defenses also contributed to the lack of scoring.

After a second turnover in a row with 3:15 left in the period, the Seahawks called a timeout. After the Chiefs came back on the court and missed their shot, Brendon Johnson’s jump shot tied the game at 2-2. Myrtle Beach added a free throw and another basket at the 1:03 mark to go up 5-2. The Chiefs came back with a driving basket and three point play by Porter Angler and a steal and basket by Quay Vereen in the last seconds for a Chiefs 7-5 lead after the first period.

The two teams traded possessions as the second period got underway before Myrtle Beach got consecutive baskets by Christian Alston and JT Miller to take a 9-7 lead. Angler tied it at 9-9 when he was fouled driving for the basket and made two free throws. A basket by Alston and a Chiefs basket by Stevenson knotted the score at 11-11 near the halfway point of the period.

Deonte Ford drives for a basket in the third period of the NMB Chiefs B-Team Middle School championship game last Saturday at North Myrtle Beach High School. The Chiefs and Seahawks were both undefeated as they met in the championship game.

Then both offenses slowed, as the next points didn’t come until a layup by the Seahawks Amare Brown made it 13-11. A three pointer by Miller upped the Seahawks lead to 16-11. The Chiefs added a free throw by Vereen to end the half with Myrtle Beach on top 16-12.

Myrtle Beach opened the third period with three baskets, while the Chiefs scored only one point on a free throw for a 22-13 lead. The teams traded points for a Seahawks 24-15 lead with 2:41 on the clock. The Chiefs then scored five unanswered points on a free throw by Angler, a floater by Vereen and a layup by Deonte Ford to cut the Seahawks lead to 24-20 with a minute left in the period. Myrtle Beach scored on a rebound of their missed shot and the Chiefs added a driving basket by Stevenson for a 26-22 score at the end of the third period.

Vereen scored the first Chiefs point of the fourth period on one of two free throws and Myrtle Beach failed to score until Brandon Johnson hit a big three point shot with 4:25 left in the game, giving the Seahawks a 29-23 lead. The Chiefs added two more free throws and the Seahawks a rebound jumper for a 31-25 lead, then a quick steal and basket made it 33-25 with 3:44 left.

North Myrtle Beach Middle School B-Team coach Grainger Smith tries to find a play late in the game against Myrtle Beach last Saturday as his team trails in the championship game of the Middle School Championship Tournament. The Chiefs lost to the Seahawks by a 40-34 score. Chiefs team members are King Paige, Deonte Ford, Rio Stevenson, Quay Vereen, Emmanual Bellamy, Bannon Hill, Soloman Grimes, Jaden Chestnut, RJ Vereen, Semaj Wilson, Andrew Mundy, Porter Angler and Jeffery Williams.

The teams battled back and forth over the last three minutes but the Chiefs could never get closer than six points the rest of the way. Angler scored three points, Stevenson a basket and two Ford free throws for the Chiefs couldn’t overcome the Seahawks lead, as they won the first Middle School Championship 40-34.

After the buzzer sounded, the Chiefs went through the obligatory hand shakes, and then moved to the end of the gym where they watched the Seahawks players and fans gather for the trophy presentation and photo ops at center court.

When things settled down, they finally had a team photo taken, but no second place trophy or celebration. Their undefeated season was over, but they had much to be proud of and the whole community was also proud of their efforts, no matter the outcome.

About Ruben Lowman