Athlete of Week: Brandon’s move paying off for Sharks

sjsoc-haywood-brandon (2)Haywood Brandon’s difficult decision to play high school sports his senior year is having a profound impact on both the St. James boys basketball and soccer programs and him personally.

After playing soccer year-round for the Charleston Battery Academy, Brandon gave up the golden opportunity to play pro soccer for the chance to be a Shark. Over the past seven months, he has helped lead his teams to first-ever appearances in the Class 3A Lower State championship games.

“It was tough to leave because the games are a lot more serious there, and the lifestyle and travel, it was an awesome experience,” said Brandon, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for leading the Sharks’ playoff run. “But playing with my high school teammates, it’s like a brotherhood. These last few months are something I will remember forever.”

After St. James’ miracle run in basketball ended in the Lower State final, Brandon had only one day to make the transition from power forward to goalkeeper. He posted four straight shutouts to open the soccer season and lead St. James to the the Michael Nash Memorial Tournament title.

“I didn’t get a day off. We lost to Darlington, practiced the next day and had the tournament,” Brandon recalled. “Playing basketball helped me with my footwork and foot speed, but there’s really nothing that can help you transition into a soccer ball coming at you full speed.”

As it turned out, Brandon didn’t need much time to adjust. He posted shutouts in 17 of St. James’ 19 wins this season, including playoff openers against Gilbert and Hilton Head. It was that second-round victory that kicked off a two-day bus trip across that state that ended with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Aiken and a program first berth to the Lower State title game.

“We got back from Hilton Head about 3:30 a.m. (Saturday), left for Aiken at 1 p.m. the same day, and then our bus broke down,” Brandon recalled. “We had to wait for another bus and by the time we got there we had about 10 extra minutes to warm up. We did a great job of handling it.”

Now the Sharks face a familiar foe in region rival Myrtle Beach. The two teams split the regular-season series and St. James won the Nash showdown, but this one will be for all the marbles. Brandon hopes to keep his and his teammates’ amazing run alive for a state title bid.

“It’s going to be tough to beat them on their field because they are so good at home on the (artificial) turf,” Brandon said. “But we seem to be playing our best soccer at the right time and everyone is playing together as a unit. We’re just going to keep playing hard like we have been.”

Win or lose, Brandon has already had an incredible senior year. Although he hasn’t yet decided about whether he will continue to play soccer at the college level when he attends Clemson next fall, he has already made memories and high school records that will last for years to come.

Photo by Tyler Watkins

Comments

comments

Chants fight Mountaineers to finish but come up shy

Chants fight Mountaineers to finish but come up shyFor the fourth time this season, Coastal Carolina had a [more]

Conway claims region title with special win at Sumter

Conway claims region title with special win at SumterA bizarre special-teams turnaround proved to be very special for [more]

Region 7-4A: Chiefs win, take piece of region title

Region 7-4A: Chiefs win, take piece of region titleThe No. 2-ranked North Myrtle Beach High football team apparently [more]

Football Roundup: Braves, Saints win; Panthers falter

Football Roundup: Braves, Saints win; Panthers falterThe Socastee High offense had another big night to beat [more]

Chants shock No. 2 Terps amid late-season surge

Chants shock No. 2 Terps amid late-season surgeFor the second consecutive match, the Coastal Carolina men’s soccer [more]

Week 10 Previews & Picks: Points aplenty this season

Week 10 Previews & Picks: Points aplenty this seasonYou don't have to be a math major to keep [more]

Volleyball: 4 area teams sweep playoff openers

Volleyball: 4 area teams sweep playoff openersThe North Myrtle Beach High volleyball team opened the Class [more]

Former CCU fan favorite Gray dies in car accident

Former CCU fan favorite Gray dies in car accidentFormer Coastal Carolina University standout basketball player Chad Gray was [more]

Tennis: Saints, Seahawks, Braves win playoff debuts

Tennis: Saints, Seahawks, Braves win playoff debutsThe Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach girls tennis team waltzed [more]

Socastee boys make it seven straight region titles

Socastee boys make it seven straight region titlesThe Socastee High boys cross country team captures its seventh [more]

Lady Sharks capture fifth straight Lower State title

Lady Sharks capture fifth straight Lower State titleThe St. James High girls golf team officially made it [more]

NMB girls, SJ boys run to region XC championships

NMB girls, SJ boys run to region XC championshipsThe North Myrtle Beach girls and St. James boys cross [more]

Carolina Forest, Socastee qualify for state golf finals

Carolina Forest, Socastee qualify for state golf finalsThe Carolina Forest and Socastee High girls golf teams qualified [more]

Washington strikes gold, silver at SCISA state meet

Washington strikes gold, silver at SCISA state meetChristian Academy of Myrtle Beach sent eight qualifiers to the [more]

Trio of Lady Chants sweep weekly conference honors

Trio of Lady Chants sweep weekly conference honorsCoastal Carolina nearly swept the Sun Belt Conference weekly volleyball [more]

CCU shoots under par as team for top-five showing

CCU shoots under par as team for top-five showingFor the ninth time in nine opportunities this season, the [more]

Two local swimmers claim gold medals at state meet

Two local swimmers claim gold medals at state meetCarolina Forest's Taylor Steele and St. James Casey Mitchell were [more]

Keane injured as Coastal routed by Arkansas State

Keane injured as Coastal routed by Arkansas StateArkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen threw five touchdowns to lead [more]

Melchor's hat trick helps Chants upend Monarchs

Melchor's hat trick helps Chants upend MonarchsMartin Melchor scored a career-high three goals in leading Coastal [more]

Seahawks blast Bulldogs for second straight rout

Seahawks blast Bulldogs for second straight routDoug Shaw Memorial Stadium recently underwent major renovations. Perhaps they [more]

Chiefs capture first-place showdown with Wilson

Chiefs capture first-place showdown with WilsonThe North Myrtle Beach High football team placed itself firmly [more]

Football: Tigers rip Bruins; Panthers falter at Sumter

Football: Tigers rip Bruins; Panthers falter at SumterThe Conway High Tigers made a homecoming statement Friday night, [more]

Syracuse stuns Clemson, damages title repeat plan

Syracuse stuns Clemson, damages title repeat planNo. 2 Clemson suffered its first loss of the season [more]

Seahawks outduel Chiefs for region championship

Seahawks outduel Chiefs for region championshipThe top two ranked volleyball teams in Class 4A played [more]

Golf: Sharks, Seahawks cap season with victories

Golf: Sharks, Seahawks cap season with victoriesThe St. James High girls golf team paid tribute to [more]

Chants fight Mountaineers to finish but come up shy

Chants fight Mountaineers to finish but come up shyFor the fourth time this season, Coastal Carolina had a [more]

Conway claims region title with special win at Sumter

Conway claims region title with special win at SumterA bizarre special-teams turnaround proved to be very special for [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach