Life Inside the Lines: High hopes open hoops season

cfhoops-21tip(Editors Note: This is the first in a series of articles by Carolina Forest junior basketball player Kyle Ewing, who is chronicling the Panthers’ season to give readers insight into “Life inside the Lines”. The 2016-17 season opens Monday.)

It’s finally that time of year again –  the official start of basketball season.

I think about the opening game constantly – the first time walking out onto the court, the music, the Black Hole, the new mural. It gives me a sensation like no other. I get chills and a sense of adrenaline hearing the roar of the crowd, the bouncing of the ball, even the squeaking of the shoes. I have a real passion for the game and I can hardly wait to experience the electrifying atmosphere I’ve been waiting for my whole life.

I moved to Horry County in my seventh-grade year and played for Blackwater Middle School in the eighth grade. That following summer I had my first experience with Carolina Forest basketball, when I made the Carolina Forest Basketball Association AAU team. I met Coach Mammes and many of the guys who I now call my best friends. Ever since I joined this program, I’ve loved everyone in it and have really felt the family bond growing with the team.

The family concept is one that Coach Brian Brunson really emphasizes. He preaches loving one another and playing for each other rather than ourselves. That goes along with our whole team play-style of sharing the ball and playing unselfish team basketball.

Make the play, play unselfishly, and defend with heart; these are the signs posted in our locker room, the commandments we thrive on. Everything counts, from the smallest of fundamentals to the greatest of plays. Sharing the basketball and playing intense defense for four full quarters are what it takes to win a state championship.

Every day we practice with all the energy we have so that games will be 10 times easier than practice. While developing our individual skills in practice, the coaches make sure to run some team drills every day to tune up our chemistry until our unit is unlike any other.

For our opener, we are dealing with a big injury, as well as a suspension carrying over from our final playoff football game earlier this month. While it will be difficult without those two out there, we all keep the next-man-up mentality in our minds are do our bests to step up and prove ourselves while improving each other.

This season we will accept nothing less than a state championship. Last year we made it to the Lower State semifinals and we only lost one or two key players from last year, while adding many more young talented guys this year. We truly have the talent, mindset, and motivation to win it all this year, and we expect nothing less.

It will be the best experience of my high school career to be a part of this season. I’m looking forward to growing as a player and as a young man, but I am most excited to play in Colonial Life Arena on the first weekend in March at the state championship game.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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