SOCASTEE – Things haven’t gotten any easier for the Socastee boys’ varsity basketball team.
The Braves fell to Carolina Forest 83-61 at home on Friday night, falling to 2-13 overall and 0-1 in Region VI-5A play.
Due to injuries and the youth of the team, Socastee head coach Derrick Hilton has had to adapt on the fly.
“We moved two guys up from JV to go ahead and give us some help at guard,” he said. “We just got some young guys and we’re trying to get them some experience. We got to be able to put the ball in the basket. We shot 21-for-65 from the field. Anytime we end up doing that and allow them to make 12 3s in the game, we’re going to end up shooting ourselves in the foot. And then turning the ball over 20 times, it’s going to be hard to give ourselves a chance to compete. But if we end up making some shots and make some free throws, then we can end up giving ourselves a chance to go ahead and make it a game.”
Hilton knows his team will have to come prepared to play in a region like this.
“Yes, definitely,” he said when asked if this game was a good litmus test for how tough the region will be. “Because that team (Carolina Forest) last year ended up 1-9 in the region. They got a new coach (Emmanuel DeWalt) and they got pretty much most of those guys back and all, but that just shows you right there how tough that this 5A region is going to end up being for us and we’ve got some pretty good athletes and some good teams in here.”
Socastee senior power forward /center Cameron Spain led the team in scoring with 19 points, junior guard Mike Herrin had 15 and junior power forward DJ Willard and junior shooting guard Marcus Smith both added seven.
On the other side, DeWalt was pleased with his team’s performance.
“I’ll tell you, those guys, they really played extremely hard,” DeWalt said of his team. “There’s no substitute for playing hard. And that’s the main thing; we’ve got to play hard, especially defensively. Our goal is getting one shot, box out, we rebound, push the tempo and run the floor. And it helps when you make shots. We hit a couple shots tonight and the guys really played well together. That’s one thing we’re really hard on is be a team unit. It doesn’t matter who scores the points, who gets rebounds, as long as at the end of the day we’re being successful as a team unit and the guys are really starting to buy into that and that was big for tonight.”
With it being the first region game of the season, DeWalt knew his team needed to be prepared.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” he said. “Those guys (Socastee) are hungry as well. I told the guys we’re in control of our own destiny. We’ve got to go out there and try and make it happen ourselves and we have to bring the energy. We can’t wait for somebody else to make it happen. I was really pleased with the effort we had tonight.”
The Panthers improved to 7-9 on the season and 1-0 in region play.
Junior guard Kyle Watkins led the team in scoring with 22 points, junior guard Alex Greene and junior guard/forward Mark Walker both had 11, junior guard Grant Warren added 10 and sophomore forward Jonah Nesmith contributed nine.
Carolina Forest led Socastee 18-14 at the end of the first quarter.
The Panthers outscored the Braves 18-9 in the second quarter to take a 36-23 lead into the half.
Carolina Forest outscored Socastee in the third quarter, this time 21-17, to take a 57-40 lead into the fourth, where the Panthers put the game on ice by outscoring the Braves 26-21.
After playing West Florence at home this week, Socastee will face rival St. James on the road at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Carolina Forest, after playing South Florence at home this week, will play rival Conway at home at 8 p.m. on Friday.