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Five local teams open 8-4A tourney Monday

By CURTIS ROCKWELL

Item Sports Editor

BAY ST. LOUIS — The Division 8-4A basketball tournament kicks off Monday afternoon here in the Tigerdome and quite a few teams from Pearl River County waste no time in getting into the action.

The Picayune and Poplarville boys will meet for the third time this season, as the Maroon Tide and Hornets kick off the event at 5 p.m., with a trip to the Class 4A South State playoffs on the line.

The Maroon Tide, under the direction of first year head coach Tom Taylor, swept both regular season meetings from the Hornets, winning a pair of close exciting games in 50-48 in Poplarville and 69-65 in Picayune.

Picayune, the third seed, stands 11-12 overall and is trying to avoid a losing season on the hardwood for the first time since 1974. Also, Picayune has qualified for the state playoffs for 12 consecutive seasons and the Maroon Tide has won five straight South State championships.

Poplarville stands 5-19 on the season, but is coming off a win Friday over Pearl River Central.

“We’ve had two nail-biters with Picayune, so we are excited about getting another chance to play them on a neutral court,” first year Poplarville head coach Kwame Smith said. “If we win Monday it won’t matter at all what happened in those first two games.”

The Hornets last made the state playoffs in 2006.

Also on Monday, the Pearl River Central Blue Devils hope to snap a seven game losing streak and earn a playoff spot, but will have to beat homestanding Bay High on the Tigers’ own court to do so.

PRC, the seventh and last seed, is 7-17 on the season, while Bay High stands 17-10 on the year and has won 10 straight games including a 59-40 win over Hancock Friday night.

The Blue Devils and Tigers are set to meet at 6:30 p.m.

In the finale of the action on the first day, Picayune’s Lady Tide will meet D’Iberville. The Lady Warriors are the fourth seed, and Picayune the fifth seed. The Lady Tide stands 5-17 and D’Iberville is 13-8.

It will be the second time in less than a week that the two teams have met, as D’Iberville beat Picayune 65-39 on Tuesday.

The Lady Tide have lost six straight games and eight of their last nine. Picayune is looking for its first trip to the state playoffs since 2006. D’Iberville beat Picayune in the first round of last year’s division tourney.

On Tuesday, the second day of play, the Pearl River Central Lady Blue Devils swing into action meeting Long Beach at 5:30 p.m.

The Lady Blue Devils are 6-18 overall after losing to Poplarville Friday night, and are the sixth and last seed while Long Beach, the third seed, stands 17-9 overall and is coming off a win Friday over D’Iberville.

All winners from the first two days will earn state playoff berths and advance to the semifinals on Thursday, while the season will come to an end for the losers.

The only local team to already have qualified for the state playoffs is the Poplarville Lady Hornets, who are the second seed and earned a first round bye in the tourney and will play at 5:30 Thursday against the winner of the PRC-Long Beach game.

The event will feature four games Thursday and another four games Friday to finish up play.

The state playoffs begin Feb. 17-18.