Heading into the postseason, the North Myrtle Beach girls basketball team had played just eight games.
But they put together an impressive all-around performance Saturday in a 54-31 win over Beaufort in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
It was a back-and-forth affair early in the contest, with the Chiefs leading 9-7 at the end of the first quarter.
That’s when senior forward Daveona Hatchell took over.
Hatchell scored eight of her 22 points in the second quarter, extending the lead to 25-12.
“She’s so versatile,” Chiefs head coach Brooke Smith said. “She takes a lot of beatings inside and she keeps fighting, fighting and fighting.”
Going inside and attacking proved successful as Hatchell and senior center Tiara Bryant were prolific on the glass.
“As soon as we noticed that [Hatchell] was dominant on the inside, we definitely made sure our offense was working to get that ball inside to her because she was having a great night,” Smith said.
After leading 28-16 at the half, the Chiefs continued to apply pressure and saw their lead grow to 38-17 midway through the third quarter. Despite having the game in hand, there was no easing off the gas for the Chiefs as they went into the fourth with a comfortable 48-22 advantage.
“They want it,” Smith said. “I talked to them earlier about where they ranked us in the preseason polls. We were pretty low on the totem pole. No one thought we were going to do much after we lost the Berger twins last year. These girls wanted it bad.”
The victory over Beaufort improved the Chiefs' record to 8-1.
North Myrtle Beach will host either May River or four-time defending state champion North Augusta on Wednesday.
Should North Augusta advance, it would be a rematch of last year’s playoff matchup when North Augusta defeated North Myrtle Beach 75-60 for a spot in the lower state title game.
“We’re going to believe in ourselves, believe in what we’re capable of doing,” Smith said. “We know they are a dominating force. We have a lot of respect for them. But we’re ready for them to come. We’re ready.”
Tipoff for Wednesday’s game at North Myrtle Beach High School is set for 7 p.m.