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February 15, 2013

Socastee, NMB coaches openly rooting for Myrtle Beach tonight

There's a possibility of snow on the Grand Strand this weekend.

People are a half-step away from stocking up on bottled water and canned goods. I'm sure somewhere, there's a conversation about getting trucks ready with the salt-and-sand mixture for roads. Yes, people are most certainly about to lose their minds.

It's the only explanation for Jude Hunt and Ginger Ford openly pulling for their biggest rival tonight.

The Myrtle Beach girls basketball team will tip off at Class AAA No. 1 Orangeburg-Wilkinson tonight on the road. With a victory, the Seahawks will have pulled a major upset.

What it would also do is place three teams from Region VII-AAA in next week's Lower State final four.

"I'm pulling for Myrtle Beach to win this game," said Ford, the Socastee coach awaiting the winner of this game for Monday's third-round contest. "I think it's great for our region. I think it would be great for the community for Myrtle Beach and Socastee to play again. It’s a great rivalry anyway."

Said Hunt: "We’re pulling for Myrtle Beach to win. We’d love to have three teams in the final four in the Lower State. That would be a big statement for our region. … I think it definitely gives us some bragging rights down the line."

Myrtle Beach would be the unlikeliest of the three to make the Lower State finals. North Myrtle Beach was a perfect 10-0 during region play, earned an all-important No. 1 seed and will have one more playoff game at home.

Socastee - which finished third behind the Chiefs and Seahawks - beat Manning on the road before taking care of Stall in the final minutes of Thursday's game. Ford said she didn't consider the win over Manning to be an upset, even though her team had a lower seeding.

Just the same, if Myrtle Beach wins, it would a coup for Region VII-AAA.

"In my opinion, I think we are one of the strongest regions," Ford said. "I don’t know what the upper state has. But I know the region games that we have played have prepared us."

The most-recent Class AAA state rankings (which were released following the end of the regular season) had seven of the top 10 spots going to teams from the Upper State.

The four remaining teams from the Upper State - Wren and Daniel (Region I) and Dreher and Lower Richland (Region IV) come from two regions. So even without a Myrtle Beach victory tonight, Region VII-AAA has already proved itself as one of the state's most productive this playoff season.

Still, it wouldn't be unprecedented this year. 

Region VII-A, which includes No. 4 seed Carvers Bay, has already advanced to the Class A Lower State semifinals. On Monday, the Bears head to region foe Timmonsville on Monday, while fellow region team Hemingway will play at Whale Branch.

The two winners will meet next Saturday in the Lower State finals.

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About the author

Ian Guerin has been covering sports in Myrtle Beach since 2005 and in South Carolina since 2004. In that time, he has served as a reporter on the college and high school beats at multiple publications. You can reach him directly via ian@ianguerin.com.

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