North Myrtle Beach weighed the risks of its only non-region game this fall.
It wasn’t worth it.
The Chiefs’ trip to St. James next week has been cancelled, per North Myrtle Beach Athletics Director Joe Quigley.
“We’re doing what we need to do to protect our program and our community,” Quigley said, noting the team’s inevitable playoff trip.
North Myrtle Beach is 4-0 overall and in Region VI-4A play heading into this week’s home showdown with West Florence. If the Chiefs win that game, they will lock up an automatic berth to the shortened playoffs. Barring a Myrtle Beach loss to Wilson and South Florence, the Nov. 6 game at home against the Seahawks, then, would determine which of those two teams (or West Florence) finishes atop the region standings.
All three teams — Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and West Florence — are currently in line to make the postseason via an automatic berth or one of the classification’s two at-large bids.
Like most teams who already know they’re heading to the postseason, the Chiefs had no choice but to reassess their situation heading into the final weeks of the regular season.
North Myrtle Beach and the rest of the seven-team Region VI-4A were allowed just one non-region game this season.
St. James has already been eliminated from playoff contention. The Sharks are 1-3 overall and 0-3 in Region VI-5A. The losses came to Conway, Socastee and Sumter, with the lone win coming against Class A team Lamar.
However, it is difficult to overlook a bigger issue with the Sharks sports programs. St. James has had multiple teams forced to quarantine due to positive COVID-19 tests or exposures this season. They include junior varsity football, cheerleading and volleyball (twice).
It’s the first game cancellation for this reason. But it’s not the first overall.
Green Sea Floyds (Loris), Carolina Forest (Westwood) and Conway (Blythewood) all had their Oct. 30 games canceled due to weather or COVID-19-related issues requiring earlier game to be made up later in the season.
None of those three Horry County programs found an acceptable opponent to fill those slots. It is not immediately known if one of them or an out-of-county team will play St. James or if the Sharks will simply have an off week leading into the regular-season finale against Loris.