NMB hopes hoops success follows volleyball state title

North Myrtle Beach barely had time to celebrate its Class 3A volleyball state championship before it was time to move on to the next sport. Now the Lady Chiefs are aiming for a similarly strong showing on the basketball court.

“With volleyball in the state championship and all, it has taken us some time to get our roster together and make some decisions on the direction we are taking,” said North Myrtle Beach coach Jude Hunt, whose Lady Chiefs went 17-11 overall and 7-3 in region play for a third-place finish.

“Every season we open up with a team meeting where we set our team goals. This year, our girls have decided that they are not going to be satisfied with anything less than a region championship and advancement in the playoffs.  We have had high expectations the last two seasons, only to get upset in early playoff action.  Our seniors are very committed to making sure that does not happen again.”

Among those seniors are swing player Taylor Allman, who anchored the Lady Chiefs volleyball team to the state title. She averaged 17 points per game last season to earn all-region and state honors, but her first state team title in volleyball has her hungry for the same in hoops.

She is joined by an experienced front court featuring senior forwards India Farmer and Ja’Quella Livingston. Farmer averaged a double-double last season with 11 points and 10 boards per game, and Livingston led the team in rebounding last year and served as the squad’s defensive workhorse.

Seniors Sarah McCloskey and Taylor White and junior Marci Chestnut add some solid play in the paint, but the Lady Chiefs’ biggest concern could come in the back court. They lost their first- and second string point guards so ball control and distribution could be their Achilles heal until someone steps into the role.

“We have a nucleus of six girls that have been playing together for a long time. With our experience and chemistry, we are hoping to over-come many obstacles,” Hunt said. “We just graduated a point guard and her back-up. Both of them were major contributors in our line-up.  We are currently still trying to find ways to fill that void.”

Juniors Hannah McIntyre, Cheyanne Roberts and Breeanna Goodyear and sophomore Ingrid Edge are among the candidates for playing time at point guard, while juniors Laqueisha Stanley and sophomores Ronshelia Dewitt and Julia Cole look to provide quality minutes at forward. How quickly the depth develops could go a long way toward determining how deep the Lady Chiefs go in the playoffs.

“Our biggest key will be the play of our younger girls. We have a few seniors that are good players. We need to find a few younger girls that are going to be able to come in the game and find some niche, something that they can do well, to support our team and provide some positive minutes.”

North Myrtle Beach opens the season on the road at border rival West Brunswick (NC) on Nov. 27 before playing its home opener against Loris on Nov. 30. The Lady Chiefs will host the Shootout by the Sea on Dec. 20-22 before traveling to Charleston for the Dec. 27-29 Carolina Invitational.

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