The Myrtle Beach High boys basketball team's season traditionally consists of four distinct phases — football season, the Beach Ball Classic, the region schedule and the playoffs.
Now that they have passed the first two phases with flying colors, the Seahawks (7-2) appear ready to make a Region 6-4A championship push and a potential postseason run in 2020.
"It's still too early to tell, but I really like the way our guys are playing early in the season," said Myrtle Beach coach Craig Martin. "We certainly have a lot of potential."
The Seahawks backed up his words with an impressive 79-73 victory over University (West Virginia), the top-ranked team in the Mountaineer State, in Saturday's second round of the Beach Ball Classic.
"Anytime you get a win in the Beach Ball it's a big accomplishment, but that was a very good team we beat," Martin said. "It's hard to read too much into one win but that was a good one.”
Following another state finals appearance by the Myrtle Beach football team, the shorthanded Seahawks hoopsters handled the late arrival of players well by defeating all its in-state foes.
That includes a school record 113-point performance against Socastee. Their lone loss prior to the Beach Ball was a one-pointer to York Prep (N.Y.) in the final of the Panther Classic.
The Seahawks were predictably outmatched in their Beach Ball opener, falling to No. 15 nationally ranked Long Island (N.Y.) Lutheran 77-44 on Friday night the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
The Seahawks returned to the court just 14 hours later to battle past University in a tight contest from tip to finish. Tied at 73-all with 1:20 remaining, Myrtle Beach's Emorie Knox made a steal and a breakaway layup to put the Seahawks on top for good. Knox, a Charleston Southern signee who scored 19 points, and Ayden Hickman, who had a game-high 26, hit key free throws to ice it.
Myrtle Beach is loaded with talent, led by seniors Knox, James Marquez and Josiah Funderbirk and juniors Hickman and Qualique Burgess. But the team's depth comes via late reinforcements from the football squad — T.J. Alston, J.J. Jones and Darius Hough — who helped the Seahawks to the state football final for the second straight year. They hope to have similar success in hoops.
"I think we have a team capable of being really good, but we have to keep improving and playing together," Martin said. "But I like what I've seen so far and hopefully we can make a run."
The Seahawks closed out Beach Ball Classic play Monday in the consolation bracket. Myrtle Beach returns to action Wednesday, Jan. 8, at St. James in the Region 6-4A opener for both squads.