CF Garcia

Carolina Forest's Mason Garcia uses his wingspan to grab rebounds and shoot in the game with Myrtle Beach on Friday. 

The Carolina Forest boys will test their skills this week when they host some strong hoops talent from across the Southeast in the Panther Classic.

This year’s tournament features more than a dozen high schools from Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.

“Pretty good teams,” said Carolina Forest coach Brian Brunson. “Obviously, you never know until they get here, but [they’re] very successful programs.”

The tournament was scheduled to begin Thursday at 2 p.m. and wrap up Saturday night. The field includes John Handley High School from Virginia, Franklin County and East Hall high schools out of Georgia, and Covington High from Tennessee. In-state squads include Keenan, Calhoun County and Cheraw high schools as well as local institutions such as Carvers Bay, Andrews, North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach and a talented Conway team.

Carolina Forest (5-4) has played well in recent weeks. The Panthers notched an 80-76 win over Myrtle Beach on Friday, though they fell to Northwood Academy 71-67 on Saturday. They were scheduled to play Marion Tuesday after press deadlines.

Brunson said his team is still green, but his players are quickly improving.

So how do they look heading into this tournament?

“The biggest thing is not how we stack up, it’s how we compete,” he said.

“We’ve got a very young team this year, very inexperienced team this year … but I love them. They compete their butt off. They listen. They soak it all up trying to do everything I ask them to do and that’s all I can ask.”

The holiday tournament will be the Panthers’ final tune up before they open region play at home against Socastee on Jan. 4.

Panther Classic schedule


12:30 p.m.

2 p.m.

3:30 p.m.

5 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

8 p.m.

9:30 p.m.


9 a.m.

10:30 a.m.

12 p.m.

1:30 p.m.

3 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

6 p.m.

7:30 p.m.

9 p.m.

Girls team hits the road

Carolina Forest’s girls will also play in a holiday tournament, but they will hit the road for this one.

The Panthers (4-5) will play in Greenville. That tournament was scheduled to begin Thursday and conclude Saturday.

Like the boys team, the girls squad is leaning on inexperienced players to carry them this year. However, the Panthers are struggling to score.

“I feel like we’ve almost regressed a little bit as a team,” said coach Stacy Hughes after Myrtle Beach routed her squad 54-26 on Friday. “We’re working real hard to fix it.”

The Panthers have also been vulnerable to teams that pressure their guards. Against Myrtle Beach, the Panthers turned the ball over 33 times.

“We’re not as tough as we need to be,” Hughes said. “When things get bad, we tend to wave the white flag a little too early.”


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