MB girls bounce AC Flora; face Wilson in Lower State

The Myrtle Beach High girls basketball team has been battling comparisons to last year’s loaded team all season. But on Monday night, the Lady Seahawks did something their predecessors couldn’t – advance to the Class 4A Lower State championship game.

Myrtle Beach defeated visiting AC Flora 51-37 in Monday’s Lower State semifinal, where last year’s team was eliminated. This year’s squad showed the depth, defense and hustle that has made them a title contender in a supposed rebuilding season.

“At the first of the year a lot of our girls were looking around because we lost so many good players off last year’s team,” Myrtle Beach coach Jennifer Dennison said. “We told them they could be just as good or better if they work hard and listen, and they bought into it.”

The Lady Seahawks took the lead after one period on Janell Horton’s 3-point play, 9-7, and they turned it into an 8-0 to take control early. They maintained a narrow advantage for most of the game, leading 22-17 at halftime and 30-25 after three quarters.

AC Flora cut the deficit to two points early in the fourth, but Myrtle Beach had too much firepower from too many sources. The Seahawks hit their free throws down the stretch and wore down the Falcons on defense to pull away late.

Myrtle Beach got a huge effort from junior Asia Smith, who posted a double-double of 13 points and 18 rebounds. Seniors Ivy Collins and Janell Horton added 12 points apiece. Ajia Kelly and Shillae Campbell made some key defensive plays down the stretch.

“I always believed in my teammates that we could pull together and make (a deep playoff run),” Horton said. “A lot of teams have seven or eight players, but we have all 14 on our team playing their role and working to help the team.”

Myrtle Beach faces a familiar foe in the Lower State final against region rival Wilson, which defeated Crestwood 52-44 in Monday’s other Lower State semifinal. The Seahawks swept the Tigers home-and-away series during the regular season but must play in the Lady Tigers’ backyard in the third and most meaningful meeting. The game will be played at 7 p.m. Friday at the Florence Civic Center.

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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