Carolina Forest boys

Carolina Forest’s boys play a game in 2020. This season has been marred by COVID-19 cancellations.  

Emmanuel Dewalt doesn’t even plug the following week’s games into his digital schedule anymore.

The Carolina Forest basketball coach knows there’s a good chance they’ll change before getting there. As Horry County wrestling and basketball programs are allowed to resume games after a nearly three-week hiatus, putting actual schedules together has never been more difficult.

All the while, coaches and athletics directors are going into the re-start with reminders of a dose of reality. 

“You want your team to have a clear state of mind and be positive,” Dewalt said. “I want to invoke hope in them that they’re going to play. It’s easy to be a negative Nancy. All I can do is continue to push them when they get to practice.

“We want to play. The kids want to play. I want those kids to have an opportunity to play. I’ve been telling them since before the season started — you’ve got to start your day with the mindset that it could be gone at any moment.”

Nearly all of the boys and girls basketball programs in the county have abandoned any hopes of non-region games, going so far as to remove them from the schedules. Doing so freed up some room to squeeze in as many region games as possible. That’s important because the state playoffs are still scheduled to commence the week of Feb. 20.

That leaves less than a month to determine playoff qualifiers.

Knowing how difficult that could be, more regions have started discussing a region tournament. Barring a statewide stoppage, it’s starting to appear that best hope to determine a pecking order. Because around every corner, another potential delay arises.

Most recently, it was the Socastee boys basketball team, which was placed into quarantine last week and will remain there until the end of the month. As of now, the Braves will not be able to play a game until February. They were also Carolina Forest’s lone game on the books for the week, so both the Panthers and Socastee have now lost another available window to play.

Taking advantage of any possible days, though, isn’t relegated to those two teams. Nor is the scheduling nightmare.

North Myrtle Beach, for instance, has just three games on the schedule. All three are against rival Myrtle Beach — two set for this week and another for next week.

“Right now, we don’t have much of a region schedule,” Chiefs boys coach Ryan Walker said. “We’re just looking for games at this point. We’re going to play Myrtle Beach three times. I’ll play them five times. My gut has lived in uncomfortable tightness since the season started. It’s really hard to see the future. I try to stay positive. But it’s hard with the things going on and the [COVID-19] numbers. If you look at it, the odds are stacked against us, unfortunately.”

That much is evident by looking at the posted schedules across the county. The amount of red lines crossing off previously planned events grows by the day, even as teams are allowed to re-start their seasons.

Or, in the case of Green Sea Floyds boys and girls basketball, start it altogether.

The Trojans girls practiced in November and the first week of December before going into quarantine following an exposure and contact tracing. They then got two practices between Christmas and New Year’s and were locked down with the rest of the county for the first two weeks of January.

Tomorrow, they’ll both play their first games of the season at home against Timmonsville.

“We were able to come back and practice last week. We were excited about that,” girls coach Tracy Kienast said. “We’d practice before school. I just talked to the girls about we’ve got to keep working on what we can control and what we’re trying to do in games. We’ll adjust, of course, if we can’t.”

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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