Tide defends title

Published 9:44 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thanks to some last minute heroics by Picayune’s Travis Aubin and Justin Smith, the Maroon Tide defended its Region 8-4A boys basketball championship Friday night in dramatic fashion.

Aubin found Smith open on an inbounds pass with 20 seconds left in the game and Picayune trailing St. Stanislaus by a point, and Smith dropped in the bucket to give the Maroon Tide a thrilling 32-31 win at Pearl River Central High School.

The win pushes Picayune to 28-4 on the year and the Tide will host Stone High to open the Class 4A South State playoffs Tuesday at Kelly Wise Gym.

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It was the third win for Picayune this season over the eighth ranked Rockachaws, and the second time this year that Picayune had won by a point.

“A lot of our games with them have been like this,” Picayune head coach Daniel Kennedy said. “Unfortunately, we might see them again. Travis made a very smart pass on that play.”

After the game winning play, SSC missed a pair of shots at the basket that could have won the game.

“We had our opportunities at the end of the game,” SSC head coach Jay Ladner said. “It looked like we fell asleep (on Picayune’s winning play)”.

Picayune started the game strong, as Chris Dees, Reshun Smith and Brandon Fortenberry all hit 3-pointers in the first period to put the Tide up 11-2.

But SSC continued to fight back, and knotted the game up at 27-27 late in the third quarter thanks to eight first half points by freshman center Daniel Grieves.

But David McClain nailed a trey of his own to put Picayune back up 30-27 just before the fourth quarter began.

The Rocks wouldn’t roll away, though, and SSC finally took the lead at 31-30 on a 3-pointer by Pedro Maciel with 1:15 to play setting up Aubin and Justin Smith’s game winning heroics.

Dees paced Picayune with 11 points and McClain added 10. Maciel and Grieves had nine points apiece for SSC, which dropped to 27-4.

Picayune will host the South State Tournament for the first time in six years with a win on Tuesday.