By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
The boys basketball teams from both Both Picayune and Pearl River Central have enjoyed successful seasons on the hardwood.
Only one of the local rivals, however, will make it to the state playoffs.
The Maroon Tide and Blue Devils face off tonight around 8:30 in the opening round of the Division 8-5A Tournament at Kelly Wise Gym on the campus of Picayune High School. Not only is a berth in Friday night’s league championship game on the line, but a spot in the Class 5A South State playoffs is u for grabs as well.
For the team that loses, though, the season is over.
That contest is the featured one of a four game slate to tip-off the opening round. Picayune has beaten the Blue Devils twice this season in close games, by four points at home and by thre points on the road.
“It should be another close, competitive and exciting game,” first year Picayune head coach Scott Stephens said. “It should be a great atmosphere. I am glad we are at home, but I’d rather be playing someone else. I’d rather face Duke than those guys again after they way they have played us this year.”
The Maroon Tide stands 18-7 on the season, and PRC is 13-13. Picayune is the second seed, after finishing 4-2 in the regular season in league play, and the Blue Devils are the third seed after going 2-4. Both local teams were swept in the regular season by West Harrison, who is the top seed with a 6-0 mark. The Hurricanes face Long Beach, the fourth seed, in the other boys semifinal at 5:30.
The host Picayune girls tip off play in the tourney at 4 p.m., taking on West Harrison. The Lady Hurricanes are the top seed at 6-0, while the Picayune girls and Long Beach girls both finished at 1-5 but the Lady ‘Cats won the tie-breaker. Long Beach will face the Pearl River Central girls at 7.
The Lady Tide have managed just two wins this season.
The West Harrison boys and the Picayune girls are the defending district champions. The winners of tonight’s two girls games will face off at 6 p.m., Friday night for the league title and the survivors of tonight’s pair of boys contests will follow at 7:30 to decide the league winner as well.
The PRC girls are trying to reach the state playoffs for just the second time in the past two decades. The Lady Devils are the second seed, and stand 14-12 overall.
The Picayune boys will be trying to avoid the same results the Maroon Tide encountered the last time the district tourney took place in Kelly Wise. Three years ago, after beating Stone County twice in the regular season, the Tomcats upset homestanding Picayune to earn a playoff bid.
A win by the PRC boys would mean a rare playoff appearance for the Blue Devils.
For the losers of tonights game, the season is over. Friday’s finals will determine the seedings and the host teams for the Class 5A South State playoffs, which begin on Monday for the girls and on Tuesday for the boys.