The Myrtle Beach girls basketball team’s last three seasons have been pretty darn good.
The Seahawks have won at least 20 games and advanced to at least the third round of the playoffs each year. There have been two trips to the lower state finals, including Friday’s game at the Florence Center.
But then you consider what the next opponent has done and the Seahawks’ recent success appears moderate by comparison.
North Augusta has transformed into the most recent powerhouse among the state’s larger classes. The Yellow Jackets have already won back-to-back Class 4A state titles and 79 games since the start of the 2016-2017 season.
Their only three losses in that span have come against out-of-state opponents.
The team is led by Class 4A Player of the Year Mya Burns, but there is plenty of other talent to go around, too.
Myrtle Beach (20-6) coach Jennifer Dennison compared North Augusta to the 2010 and 2011 Myrtle Beach girls teams that each won Class 3A state championships.
And for more detail on a North Augusta team that should be considered a heavy favorite on Friday, we linked up with Aiken Standard sports reporter Kyle Dawson, who routinely covers the Yellow Jackets and has seen much of this run from up close.
MYHORRYNEWS: This run by North Augusta has been the next mini-dynasty among the bigger classes in recent memory, joining earlier ones from Dutch Fork, Spring Valley, J.L. Mann and Lower Richland in the last few years. What has made the Yellow Jackets so special over the course of the last three seasons?
KYLE DAWSON: It's a combination of the athletes they have and their style of play. I've said several times over the last three years that North Augusta is simply playing a different game than anyone else in the state. It's their defense and ability to force turnovers, their passing and ability to generate open looks, their proficiency in transition — it's not just the principles, but also their execution. They out-work people. That's how they're able to close a first quarter on a 17-2 run, or open the third on a quick 15-0 run to put the game away.
MHN: Is this a product of a couple really good players, or is the type of thing that basketball fans from around the state should recognize as a longstanding trend for years to come?
KD: A high school basketball team shouldn't be able to lose players as good as Amari Young (Old Dominion) and Sarah Crews (Lander) from one signing class and still be right at the top of the heap the next year. North Augusta just happens to have a wealth of talent, both on the court and on the sideline. They'll have three of their top five back again next year, and then all of those other players who have been getting into the game late and earning experience in blowouts are freshmen and an eighth-grader. They have the tools to keep it going.
MHN: Just how good is NA senior and Georgia Southern signee Mya Burns?
KD: Mya Burns is good enough that she had us wondering last year if she might be the best player on that team, and that was with the State Player of the Year in the same starting lineup. She's a 15 and 10 type player, at worst, who will also get you five steals and a couple of blocks. She's a smart player who always seems to be where she needs to be, when she needs to be there.
MHN: North Augusta hasn’t had a playoff game decided by fewer than 14 points during this ultra-impressive run. Is there any reason to believe Myrtle Beach will do much better?
KD: Myrtle Beach obviously didn't reach the lower state championship game by accident, and that No. 7 ranking wasn't drawn out of a hat. The Seahawks have left little doubt in each of their three playoff wins so far. North Augusta's a slightly different story, though. I think Wilson had to feel like this was their chance to finally knock off the Lady Jackets, especially with a halftime lead on their home floor. Then North Augusta did what North Augusta does and was quickly up by 24 in the fourth quarter. It's going to be a tall task to become the first in-state team to beat North Augusta since Sumter did in Florence back in 2016. Mya Burns and Aaliyah Bell played as freshmen in that game, and that loss in that building inspired the 'unfinished business' mentality at the start of the run. Needless to say, no matter how big any of the past wins have been, they won't take Myrtle Beach lightly.