For a half, Myrtle Beach gave Scott County (Ky.) all it could handle Monday in the nightcap of the 36th Beach Ball Classic’s opening night at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
The Seahawks weren’t able to keep up with the Cardinals’ pace in the second half, however.
After leading by just three points at halftime, Scott County opened the second half with a 15-0 run to take command and earn a 76-50 win.
“The first half was a little bit more what we were trying to do. The second half, not so much,” Myrtle Beach coach Craig Martin said. “I think they made some adjustments in the halfcourt game, and we didn’t do the little things it takes to be effective. Our cuts weren’t as hard as they needed to be, our passes weren’t as crisp as they needed to be. It just came down to those little things.”
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In a matchup of guard-dominated lineups, the Seahawks (6-5) used a variety of half-court press defenses in an attempt to disrupt Scott County (8-1), and offensively it utilized a spread motion offense that created some open outside looks and lanes to the basket in the first half.
Scott County opened up leads of 6-0 and 24-15 in the game’s opening six minutes, but Myrtle Beach battled back to tie the score at 32 before trailing 37-34 at the half.
“I thought the second half we started playing team defense,” Scott County coach Billy Hicks said. “In the first half we didn’t contain the ball well and didn’t get in a position to help very well, either.
“You have to give Myrtle Beach credit. They played as hard as anybody. They battled every second and they were really physical. They made it tough on us in the first half. Thank goodness we came out and got that lead and got a little run out there to get that cushion.”
Scott County’s 15-0 run included points following three Seahawks turnovers, and three baskets off offensive rebounds. The Cardinals held the Seahawks scoreless for more than five minutes to begin the second half.
“We played more team position defense. In the first half we were out of position,” Hicks said. “… We were just out of sync, and I give Myrtle Beach credit for that. I thought their guards handled the ball well and spread us out and drove us. I thought Myrtle Beach had us on our heels in the first half. We got a couple steals right before the half and got the lead back, and that was the little momentum we got going into the second half.”
Scott County is an experienced team, having lost just one senior of a team that went 29-6 last season, though it is still young with just three seniors on the roster. The Cardinals were led by sophomore Michael Moreno and junior Cooper Robb, who each scored 23 points and combined to record nine steals.
Robert Swanson paced Myrtle Beach with 16 points, Blake John scored 13 and JaQuan Chestnut had six points on 3-of-3 shooting and a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Seahawks hit 5 of 10 3-pointers in the first half. But they went cold in the second half, shooting just 26 percent from the floor after shooting 48 percent in the first half, and were forced into 15 second-half turnovers for a total of 26 in the game, which was 12 more than the Cardinals.
Scott County scored 31 points off Myrtle Beach turnovers, while the Seahawks managed just five points off the Cardinals’ turnovers.
“We turned the ball over I think 15 times in the second half and you can’t do that against a team as good as Scott County and as well coached.” Martin said. “… They did a better job tonight of putting pressure and we didn’t do as good a job as we should have handling the ball and handling the pressure.”