In front of a packed house with fans from each side making noise throughout, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach’s game on Friday was decided by the least entertaining part of the entire sport.
The Seahawks defended their home court from the charity stripe, eventually overtaking and then holding off their rival with all those freebies en route to a 68-62 overtime victory.
“You make them pay,” Myrtle Beach coach Craig Martin said. “If they foul you, you make them pay. To me, the two guys who were getting fouled, Darius and Emorie, they can really shoot free throws. Both of them like that situation. They kind of proved it tonight.”
Indeed, Darius Hough and Emorie Knox had other electric parts of the night. They combined to score 52 points, while Hough added eight boards and a long-range 3-pointer to start overtime and Knox chipped in three steals and a couple big drives to the basket in the extra period.
But where they made their mark in this one was with a whole bunch of free throws.
Knox drilled 17-of-18 from the line, while Hough was a perfect eight-of-eight. As a team, the Seahawks were 31-35, or a stout 89 percent for those who don’t feel like breaking out the calculator.
The effort helped erase what was a 12-point North Myrtle Beach lead at halftime.
“They knocked down their free throws, and we didn’t,” first-year Chiefs coach Ryan Walker said. “That’s been a struggle point for us all year. It cost us at Hartsville, it cost us here, it cost us at the Darlington game up there.”
On Friday, the Chiefs were a paltry 10-of-25 from the line on their attempts.
It prevented them from putting the game away or even maintaining a lead on several occasions late in the fourth quarter. The flip side of that, then, was Myrtle Beach’s payoff.
All of that came despite the team’s second-leading scorer, Ayden Hickman, sitting on the bench for undisclosed reasons.
“We’ve got a lot left in the tank,” Hough said. “If one man is out, the next man up is going to fight.”
And now the Seahawks can really start preparing for doing it when it matters most. Technically, they could still win the region with a win Tuesday at Hartsville, a North Myrtle Beach win at region front-runner Marlboro County and some help from the deeper tie-breaker scenarios. But either way, Myrtle Beach already knows it is going to be at home when the playoffs start the week after next.
“Mentally, we’ve got to have good practices, get good reps and know the plays — knowing what is at stake,” Hough said. “We’ve got a lot more we want to accomplish.”