Eight Men Out: Panthers try to overcome major turnover

A mass exodus of graduating seniors left the Carolina Forest boys basketball cupboard empty, but Panthers coach Will Brunson sees it as an opportunity to go grocery shopping.

Carolina Forest lost eight players off last year’s Region 6-4A co-championship roster, including all five starters. But with the combination of a handful of returning players and some incoming youngsters, Brunson is excited about the possibilities.

“This year’s team will be young and inexperienced,” said Brunson, who is seeking his third region crown in his fifth season at Carolina Forest. “Although some may see this as a rebuilding year, expectations are high and the potential is great.”

Returning players include seniors Isaac Wathen and Donovan Williams, juniors Chris Johnson and Ryan Yurachek, and sophomores Zavier Jones and Will Brunson, who will see increases in their playing time. Newcomers Zavier Jones, Jawan Butler-Stevens and others look to provide some depth for the Panthers.

Carolina Forest posted a 15-7 overall record and 6-2 region mark with last year’s senior-laden lineup. A repeat performance may be a bit much to ask from the new crew, but how well the Panthers are playing at the end of the season will determine whether the glass is half-full or half-empty.

Carolina Forest opens the season Friday at Socastee and play their home opener on Dec. 4 against North Myrtle Beach.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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