Picayune’s Brandon Fortenberry drives to the hoop against West Jones on Tuesday.

Published 7:40 pm Thursday, February 22, 2007

For the first time in three games this postseason, Picayune will be facing a team it hasn’t already beaten twice in the regular season.

But, in this case, the Maroon Tide may wish it was a little more familiar with its opponent.

As good as the Maroon Tide’s 27-5 record is, it’s one win short of the foe it faces today as head coach Daniel Kennedy’s crew takes on McComb at 5:30 in the first round of the Class 4A South State Tournament at Pass Christian.

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The Tigers of head coach Hilton Harrell are 28-5 on the season, after dispatching Stone High in Wiggins 67-43 on Tuesday.

On the same night, Picayune stopped West Jones 58-36 to set up tonight’s meeting.

Tuesday’s game was actually the first of the season for Picayune when a loss would have ended the season for the Maroon Tide.

They responded.

“They knew it was win or go home,”” Kennedy, who guided the Maroon Tide to both the league and tournament titles in Division 8-4A during his first season at the helm, said. “Even though we have been inconsistent at times this year, we seem to have played well when we’ve needed to.”

Now, the Maroon Tide has to do it again, or the season will be over.

McComb, which finished third in Division 6-4A despite the impressive mark, has a full complement of players that can do damage to any defense.

In Tuesday’s win, Otis Smith fired in a game high 18 points for McComb, as the Tigers never trailed in the game.

Rodderick Cotton added 16 for the Tigers, while Akeem Williams scored 14 points and point guard Defredderick White added 12 points and handed out seven assists.

In the previous game, a 70-57 win over Lawrence County in the consolation game of the Division 5-5A Tournament, Smith tallied 21 points to lead the way and Anthony Daniels added 16.

The Tigers fell in the semifinals of that event to eventual tourney champ Mendenhall 74-68, after McComb had beaten Mendenhall handily twice in the regular season 75-55 and 85-74.

In fact, McComb had dropped two games to Lawrence County earlier this season before coming back to beat the Cougars in the consolation game.

Picayune got a big game from Chris Dees Tuesday night, as the 6-foot-4 junior poured in a career high 26 points in the win over the Mustangs.

The Maroon Tide gave up only 36 points to West Jones, and will need another solid defensive effort tonight.

A win by Picayune would put it into the South State semifinals against the winner of the Laurel-Port Gibson game Friday at 6 p.m., at the Pass gym.