Tide’s Taylor settles in

Published 8:50 pm Friday, January 2, 2009

By CURTIS ROCKWELL

Item Sports Editor

Picayune’s Maroon Tide stands 7-6 on the prep basketball season as the calendar turns to another year.

And, despite the traditional success the program has enjoyed over the past two decades, some might be a little surprised that this Tide team even has a winning record mid-way through the season.

After all, after falling in overtime in the Class 4A state championship game last year by three points to New Hope, the Maroon Tide lost its top seven players and its head coach.

Enter Tom Taylor, who was an assistant at Fontainebleau High in Mandeville, La., the past few seasons.

But faced with a daunting challenge of replacing everything but the nets and the basketballs from last year’s team, Taylor has Picayune right in the thick of things in the Division 8-4A race once more.

“I think we are doing O.K., but it’s been a learning experience,” Taylor, whose team stands in second place in the league standings with a 3-1 mark, said. “I’m learning the kids and they are still learning me to an extent. I think the most important thing right now is our record in the district. We have taken some lumps in some other games because we are playing some good teams. But that experience should pay off later.”

Vincent Gable, who is just about the only player on this year’s team that even stepped on the court at all last season, has been Picayune’s most consistent scorer this season, and has had help at times from Lloyd Hall and Courtney Nixon as well as Josh Hart.

Chris Nixon and Reggie Bailey, more known for their prowess on the gridiron than the hardwood, have stepped in and provided not only athleticism and some muscle under the basket but some scoring as well.

The Tide will get a chance and continue that tough out of league schedule on Saturday, as both Picayune teams meet Pass Christian in the Ocean Springs Classic. The Lady Tide and Lady Pirates tip off at 11 and the boys follow at 12:30.

The Pirates are 14-1 and beat host Gulfport 62-58 to win the Admiral Hardwood Club Holiday Classic Tuesday night