Braves open ‘The Wave’; MB, NMB, Tigers hit road

Four Grand Strand area schools will tip off their 2011-12 basketball seasons tonight, but only one will play remotely close to home.

Myrtle Beach travels all the way down Highway 378 to Lake City to face the Panthers and North Myrtle Beach crosses the state line to take on West Brunswick (N.C.).

Conway has a slightly shorter bus ride to take on Horry County rival Loris, while Socastee opens “The Wave” with a visit from Carvers Bay from rural Georgetown County.

Socastee’s boys and girls squads have already seen some action in preseason tournaments, with the Braves at the Island Jam in Puerto Rico and the Lady Braves hosting the Sand and Hoops Invitational, but tonight will mark their first official games of the season.

The Braves face a tough test against the Bears, who advanced to the third round of the Class A state playoffs last season and return an athletic and tight-knit lineup. The Lady Braves also hope to start the season on the right foot.

Perhaps the most interesting matchup of the night will also be the one that is farthest away from the Grand Strand in Lake City. The Myrtle Beach girls are going for a Class AAA state championship three-peat but lost several key contributors from last year’s team, while the Seahawks were banned from the playoffs for holding illegal practices and enter 2011-12 looking for redemption.

North Myrtle Beach’s girls are looking to make a deep run to the postseason but begin the quest against out-of-state talent, while the Chiefs enter Tuesday’s game under a new coach, Frank Moorhead, and without leading scorer Dylan Poston.

Conway tries to get off on a winning note when girls coach Shamae Hemingway leads the Lady Tigers against the Lady Lions, and former Coastal Carolina coach Michael Hopkins’ Tigers take on Loris.

All games start at 6 p.m. with the girls games, followed by the boys at approximately 7:30.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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