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Carolina Forest's Avery Campbell falls on the ball in the match with Wando in the Border Battle Tournament at North Myrtle Beach High School on Friday. North Myrtle Beach High School is hosting the tournament with teams from North and South Carolina schools. The tournament continues on Saturday. Photo by Janet Morgan/Myrtle Beach Herald janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Carolina Forest is the team to beat in region play.

At least that’s been the case in recent years.

But can the squad that has won at least a share of the last four region titles — including going 10-0 in region play last season — continue that run?

“We are looking to overcome adversity,” said third-year coach Connor Cooper. “We have fewer players this year, we’re trying to meet the [COVID-19] restrictions and comply and all that stuff.”

But the Panthers will still be formidable.

Although they lost three members of last year’s team to graduation, Cooper is optimistic about younger players filling those roles. He’ll also have experienced leadership from the three seniors on his roster: setter Avery Campbell, defensive specialist Fallon Tomlin and defensive specialist Catrina Edwards.

“All three of them are natural leaders,” he said. “That’s what’s so cool.”

The region will look different this year with the removal of the Florence schools (South, West) and the addition of Sumter.

“I only remember playing Sumter one time at a tournament last year,” Cooper said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of talent they have and what they add to the region, but I know the regions are always tough.”

Overall, though, he’s upbeat about his squad.

“We’re going to have a really strong team,” he said. “I have high hopes for this season.”

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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I'm the editor of myhorrynews.com and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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