Tide hosting South State

Published 5:46 pm Thursday, February 21, 2008

The only previous time Picayune hosted the South State Tournament, the Maroon Time went on to make it to the state championship game.

Maroon Tide head coach Daniel kennedy and his crew hope, that in that respect, history repeats itself this year.

Picayune hosts the Class 4A South State event, starting today with four games beginning at 4 p.m.

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The Maroon Tide cap off first day play, meeting McComb in a contest slated for 8:30 p.m.

“It’s big to host it, it’s exciting for our kids and the school,” Kennedy, the second year head coach who has guided his team to a 29-4 mark this season, said. “But just because you’re at home you can’t relax. You really have to be even more focused.”

And Kennedy need go no further back in time than the past two years to give his players a history lesson on just that fact.

The past two years, host teams Pass Christian and McComb have both failed to make it out of this round and neither advanced to the overall state tournament, which begins next week in Jackson.

In fact, Picayune has won the past three South State titles, and four of the past five all on the road.

All games today are, just like Tuesday’s opening round, elimination games with the season coming to an end for the losing teams.

“You’ve got to bring it every night,” Picayune Dandy Dozen standout Chris Dees said.

Dees and stalwart Brandon Fortenberry have been the crux of a senior laden squad that has lost just one home game over the past two years. In fact, Picayune is 52-2 in Kelly Wise Gym over the past four seasons.

Picayune’s top seven players comprise that senior group, which also includes Ben Daly, David McClain, Travis Aubin, Reshun Smith and Justin Smith.

“They are a special group,” Kennedy added. “They are the nucleus of the success we have had over the past two years. I feel real close to them, and we have a good chemistry not just on the court but off the court as well.”

Today’s action kicks off with Moss Point meeting Northeast Lauderdale at 4 p.m., followed by St. Stanislaus vs. Forest Hill at 5:30 and then Forrest County AHS vs. Port Gibson at 7 followed by the Maroon Tide and McComb.