Athlete of the Week: NMB’s Chestnut leads by example

nmbghoops-32After losing three all-region selections off last year’s team, the North Myrtle Beach girls basketball team wasn’t expected to be a contender this year. Someone forgot to tell that to Marci Chestnut.

The senior center is leading the Lady Chiefs into the Class 3A playoffs thanks to her tenacious play in the paint as of late. She has recorded double-doubles in NMB’s last four games and is averaging 15.8 points and 12.4 rebounds per game since the start of region play.

“As a senior on the team, it’s important for me to be there offensively and defensively and to be big in post as well,” said Chestnut, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week. “If we’re having a bad night shooting, it’s important that I do work on defense and make sure I’m pulling down rebounds.”

Chestnut has been a beast on defense and the glass for the Lady Chiefs, turning cold-shooting nights into second-chance points and limiting opponents to one-and-done opportunities on offense. More importantly, she is providing some much-needed leadership to a team that was decimated by graduation.

“She is the definition of a blue collar player, leading our team in most categories through just her sheer determination and refusal to give in at any cost,” said NMB coach Jude Hunt. “After being the one returning player that offered major contributions to last year’s region title, she has taken a key leadership role for us and when she has a good night, it really gives the entire team a big spark.”

Chestnut, who also led the Lady Chiefs to back to the Class 3A state volleyball final in the fall, knows the importance of having seniors step up in crunch time. She saw former teammates Taylor Allman, India Farmer and Jaquella Livingston do so last season, and she is looking to fill the void.

“Last year we had some great leaders and teammates, like India, Taylor and Jaquella,” Chestnut said. “They were all big leaders and I’m trying to step into their shoes and make the best of it I can.”

Chestnut is currently weighing scholarship offers for volleyball, but it’s not surprising that those schools’ basketball coaches have already expressed an interest in keeping her occupied during the offseason. She plans to deal with that decision after the basketball season, which she hopes to help last as long as possible.

“I’m going to take some visits and make a decision by April, but right now I just want to focus on finishing up strong in basketball. It’s my last year playing for North Myrtle Beach and every game could be the last time I’m wearing that name on my jersey. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and encourage my teammates to do the same.”

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